Final impressions of the 2016-2017 season

I feel ya, Hank

The Rangers’ 2016-2017 season has come to an end.  I, like many of you, I’m sure, was left with a disappointed taste in my mouth following the Blueshirts untimely exit to a fairly mediocre Senators team.  Fortunately, my writing schedule allowed me to digest for a couple days before committing my final impressions of this season to the interwebs.  In thinking about concepts, angles and a final position for this article, I cycled through many emotionally driven think pieces.  The title “What a Waste” stuck in my head for several days.

I was seriously considering a sanctimonious diatribe about wasting another of Hank’s prime years and the complete unfairness of the generational level of performance he has given the organization over the past decade plus only to be rewarded with consistent disappointment.  Though this isn’t ultimately the point of this article, I do want to touch on that concept briefly.

I know there are those out there who would place the ultimate blame for the team’s shortcomings on Hank, himself.  Citing his lack of ability to get them “over the hump”, so to speak.  This is massively unfair and indicative of someone with a profound misunderstanding of the position, its impact on the ice and the psychology behind it.  I also want to make clear that I am not saying that Hank has been perfect and his performance is beyond criticism.  Of course, he hasn’t been perfect.  Of course, he has had bad games.  Of course, there have been times when his performance hasn’t lived up to the players around him.  My point is that those performances are in the extreme minority.  Lundqvist has given this franchise a level of performance over the past decade that has no other team has had the luxury of.  It is a testament to how spoiled we have become as a fan base since he took over the net.

This transitions nicely into the front office.  Jeff Gorton has done a masterful job revamping the forwards and creating solid depth.  Now, his task turns to the blue line, which will undoubtedly be a much taller task.  With a slow rising salary cap and eight figures of dead weight, it might take a minor miracle.  He has made some solid moves in acquiring Brendan Smith, signing Alexei Bereglazov and grabbing NCAA free agent Neal Pionk.  By all accounts, Ryan Graves is approaching readiness and with the emergence of Brady Skjei as a standout option, there looks to be solid depth options on the back end.  There are four problems: Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Kevin Klein and Nick Holden.  If you could re-sign Smith to a reasonable deal and have a top three featuring McDonagh, Smith and Skjei, with Bereglazov, Graves, Kampfer and Pionk serving as bottom pair options, you have the makings of a solid back end with depth.  The issue is cutting over $13m+ in defensive cap hits that have little to no value.

For the forwards, I think we have seen what stuck when you threw everything at the wall.  I think Brandon Pirri was a great idea that just simply didn’t work out.  His skill set was unique and useful, but when he went through long stretches of not scoring, he became completely useless.  Matt Puempel was a solid 13th forward and would not be a bad guy to keep around.  Pavel Buchnevich, while having some adjustment pains, had a nice first year and should continue to grow as a player next season.

Jimmy Vesey was more or less what you would expect if you looked at the scouting reports instead of following the sweepstakes and front office drama.  The fourth line will likely be affected by the expansion draft, so we will just have to see how that shakes out.  Point is, the forwards are in pretty good shape.

There is a good possibility that Antti Raanta could be moved for some value to a team that doesn’t think Ben Bishop is a $6m+ goaltender at this stage of his career (he isn’t).  I’ve come to believe that Benoit Allaire could grab someone out of the stands at MSG and make them a viable NHL backup at this point, and there are no shortage of interesting possibilities for a cheap and effective option, should Raanta find himself elsewhere.  Darcy Kuemper, Michael Hutchinson, Eddie Lack, Jack Campbell, Malcolm Subban; there are plenty of candidates out that that could make for interesting development projects.

Which I suppose brings me to the coaching staff.  Individually, there is some variance.  I have seen enough of Scott Arniel’s power play.  Let him go to fulfill his destiny of leading a division rival to a Stanley Cup as head coach.  I feel like it’s hard to judge Jeff Buekeboom’s performance because he had a challenging assignment with this defense.  Obviously, Allaire is safe.

As for AV, I guess it depends.  I always think the notion of having to take away a coach’s “toys” to compel him to make the right decisions is always symptomatic of a bigger problem.  I think with AV this points to him simply being a bad judge of talent.  When he has an objective structure and philosophy, he is a very good coach.  When he relies on his gut and his comfort level in tough spots, his flawed assessments end up in full view.  His stubborn decision to lean on Marc Staal in close games in the playoffs is Exhibit A.  He will be back next year, however, no matter what we all think.

I think the bigger problem is the lack of willingness by the entire organization to adapt to a new business model in team building.  You can (very validly) feel that physicality, heart and soul are still very much of a part of the modern hockey landscape (just look at Zuccarello), but lose the commitment to giving those assignments to bad players.  As an executive or front office member, you can actively seek out those traits in players that you acquire; go nuts!  Just make sure those players can play the game well while they are doing it.  Until the “I’m a hockey man, so I know better than everyone else in the room because hockey” attitude will die, the Rangers will lag dangerously behind the curve of more progressive organizations.

I guess, going back to my original thought, this season was a waste.  The team was exactly who we thought they were, the coaching staff and front office were exactly who we thought they were and the results in the end were predictably mediocre.  I know many out there will just say “be a fan, watch and enjoy the games and don’t worry about all the analysis”.  I wish it were that easy.  It’s like watching a movie where you know the main character is going to die at the end and fully investing in his journey anyway.  Hopefully next year will be different.

"Final impressions of the 2016-2017 season", 5 out of 5 based on 17 ratings.

47 thoughts on “Final impressions of the 2016-2017 season

  • May 12, 2017 at 7:23 am

    this season was not a success yes the rangers crossed over to the Atlantic where they dispatched the Canadians in six games but they couldn’t beat the Ottawa Senators yes they came home evened the series but when you look at it they blew leads made bad decisions and didn’t execute the game plan the way the sens did yes brass did score in game 5.

    • May 12, 2017 at 8:53 am

      Amy when are you moving to Ottawa

      • May 12, 2017 at 3:37 pm

        You can take the rose-colored glasses off now; the season’s been over for a few days.

  • May 12, 2017 at 8:20 am

    Good season that ended on a sour note. We added some new pieces on defense, an we need to subtract some as well. Center ice needs some changes with Stepan gone. Need a tough centermen with size an speed. Need to start using Raanta more an more, as the King needs to play less.

    • May 12, 2017 at 8:46 am

      Yeah I would love a really defensive minded center who plays the 3c role, it would allow Hayes and Zib in the top 6. Unless you’re talking about those big and fast top line center’s who grow on trees? Lol your comment became irrelevant for anyone that read ahead to your last sentence. You didn’t get the memo yet?

      Here’s my reasonable side- Hank is here to stay and start without a doubt for the next 2-3 years.
      Now here’s my personal side-Are you high or just delusional? This was Raaanta’s first time playing in this many regular season games and mainly due to default. I’m guessing you want this team to win more but you want a backup to take them to the promise land?

  • May 12, 2017 at 8:34 am

    This season took giant leaps with Hayes and JT Miller imo. Fans who say otherwise were people who just don’t know how much potential those two have. Hayes could still easily be a high 60s-70s pt center by racking up assists and same for JT while having most likely 30+ goals, at least with season highs. They were our best prospects and even though hey didn’t necessarily take off to be the next Joe Thornton and P Kane right now but they’re still reaching. I think regular season wise they’ve took the appropriate leaps. I found a strange connection with the Hayes haters who have always been insecure because they’re scared of losing Stepan, even in a Stepan rant they’ll group kid in there for some strange reason. I look at EVERY prospect that this club has had and you won’t be able to match there individual roads to his because coming out of the NCAA with zero AHL time and switched to arguably the hardest position to cover in hockey is no simple task. He did it flawlessly and was ranked 4th in a deep rookie class, then he averages Sean Couturier number’s in a sophomore slump and people freak out. What happens if Vesey gets 10 less points next season? It just shows you in the bigger picture that someone like Hayes will be good, he ranked as a top PK’er this year beating Mess and Leetch’s numbers in one try as a go to man on the PK and already is easily the top 3c of the league. JT and him will be going up into the top 6 next year because it will be cheaper for Gorton. They’ll get the trust to top their old production and remember one of them had 4 less points than our “1c” and the other had 2 less points than Zucc. Hayes is repping team USA with the other high skill degenerates while Stepan will never get a shot at interracial play again and Kreiders will continue to get looked over by more solid names. Now let’s throw rotten tomato’s at Hayes and JT for having half the production as our “1c” in the playoffs. Then let’s all think that trading them is a sensible option that Gorton is legitimately thinking of.

  • May 12, 2017 at 8:42 am

    When the season started I honestly didn’t think this team was for real, and so stated. My main concern was the defense, and was disappointed that the twins were returned, and so stated. I also thought we were too soft up front, and was roundly booed for my opinion. Well folks, all my complaints were right on the mark!!!!!!

    Going forward, we all know what has got to be done. JG has started the process by addressing the defense first with Smith. Very good moved, based on what we gave up, no complaints. The signing of the big Russian kid may help in two ways, first on defense, and secondly help get the Buch kid’s mind off of home, and have someone to hang with. Good move again. The other kid Poink, I know nothing about, so I’ll say nothing. Problem now is how do we rid ourselves of the twin boat archers on defense? Advise them that they will be bought out if they don’t consent to a trade, try to work out a deal, or worst case scenario, buy of Staal, and keep Dan if we can’t get to unload him, as our 7th d-man. We need a PP QB, with the ability to carry the puck out of the zone. You see, the icing strategy doesn’t work, but no one ever got around to inform this coach that the game plan which includes this is terrible! This d-man has got to be more physical than anything we currently have, which is way too soft. Why as a team do we suffer from the contact aversion syndrome? And please don’t sign Shatty to a mega deal, another Pylon Twins issue down the road in 2-3 years?????

    Now the forwards, rid the team of Pierri, Pumpernickel, and most importantly Daisy. Stepan has shown to lack gumption, speed, willingness to go to the dirty areas, carry the puck across the blue line. When I think of it, what the hell good is this worm? How did we sign him for the amount we did? Someone should be shot for that contract! If possible let’s get a sniper, and a forward that is willing to go into the dirty areas, muck it up along the boards, and drop the gloves when push turns to shove. That isn’t much of a tall order is it?????

    Last, but not least, JG, please study this coach’s moves, or lack thereof, and first chance you get, put him out to the pastures, the guy isn’t the answer for us to win the CUP!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • May 12, 2017 at 9:40 am

      You lost me at “this team is soft”. When were they ever pushed around physically these playoffs?

      • May 12, 2017 at 10:03 am

        whenever Glass wasn’t around!

        this is a critique of the season, not just the PO’s, but you have a difficult time reading anything I post??????????

        • May 12, 2017 at 10:22 am

          Fair enough! But I do think this postseason showed that the players currently on this team are capable of playing physical and with an edge. The issue is why did they have to wait 82 games to show it!

          Also, you forgot to include at the beginning of your post “even though they exceeded by 1st round elimination prediction” 😀

          • May 12, 2017 at 11:17 am

            They didn’t demonstrate this so call toughness because the coach discouraged it. As for the 1st round predication, well I’m not perfect, and will fess up to it!!!!!!!!

      • May 12, 2017 at 12:35 pm

        Physically? Not at all (since we never played WSH or a west coast team like ANA)

        Mentally? the entire playoffs (see 3 blown leads/OTL’s, etc)

    • May 12, 2017 at 9:53 am

      Stepan got paid by default like a couple of other center’s due to the lack pf them in this league. As we see though that this game is growing with them especially for the future of team USA, then names like Stepan get exposed. It’s not fair with how he’s getting heat from all over now because anyone who could have seen this from 11-13 already knew what he was going to be about in his prime days. This team was his best chance to post up better number’s but he’s failed that and now it’s all over for him imo. He will get moved somehow this summer and from now on he’ll have his back against the wall to fill out his contract every season as a 1c. What I think is in the horizon for him would be eventually getting bought out before he hits 30. No offense but you kind of beat the purpose pf Stepan’s failure as a top 6 center.

      • May 12, 2017 at 10:06 am

        let’s agree to disagree on Stepan, I think he is useless!!!!!!!!!!

        • May 12, 2017 at 10:34 am

          Nah you’re not understanding me, I been saying that line since 2011.

          To really expose something then sometimes you have to play ball and that’s what I’m doing with fans. The one’s that think he’s consistent, better than Brassard, underrated etc. I’m just pointing out the facts that he has had his same underwhelming season since say 1. He was barley the top productive center Check. He averaged his same point total while never really helping out on special teams Check. He had above 50 points without touching the better center’s assist total Check. He had another season without even reaching 20 goals Check. He got out produced in the top 6 during the playoffs by this time Zib instead of Brass Check.

          Some say he’s a playoff “performer” while all I see is that he added more poor quality of points to his post season total. A assist here and a goal there but trust me I know he’s been utterly useless. I just roll with the punches when his fan club decides to talk him up as if he could even be in Bergeron’s category, he doesn’t even have Crosby’s heart of playing through the pain.

          • May 12, 2017 at 11:20 am

            I miss read your remark, and am guilty of what I accused Spozo of myself!!!!!

  • May 12, 2017 at 8:47 am

    Justin your comment about Benoit Allaire taking anyone from the crowd at MSG is classic!


    and your 100% cracking me up with the Scott Arniel destiny line as well.

    You may as well toss in something about some of the players leaving to shine somewhere else, perhaps JT Miller becoming a stud on a west coast team….

    🙂 or Stepan scoring 40 and getting the conn symth with his new club next year…

    excellent Friday fun! thanks

    • May 12, 2017 at 10:03 am

      Rumors that use to speculate that JT could be the odd man out before this must have had some truth to it. I say this because GM’s usually calling in for a certain name during the deadline don’t happen by randomness. There probably was a inside souce giving a heads up prior to the 16-17 season. Gorton and the upper management shutting that down makes me believe that there’s a very slim chance that JT gets traded though now. I could see Kreider being dealt for a top 4 D man before him imo but we’ll see this summer how it all shapes out. If the a team like the Preds wanted to involve someone like Subban for Kreids then I sure hope Gorton would take that similar offer.

  • May 12, 2017 at 8:55 am

    The forwards corp is solid, and deep and talented but lacking in elite scoring talent. I can think of reasons for sticking with Hayes, Miller and Kreider but I can also think of reasons for trading any one of them. I wouldn’t part with any of them easily and would expect a good return but there are enough questions about all of them that if the opportunity came up to acquire a comparatively young, comparatively talented defenseman or a forward with more reliable scoring punch and one of those guys was part of the price I think I’d pull the trigger. After all you can’t just expect to trade your crap for a savior. If the Rangers are going to improve their team via the trade route expect it to hurt a bit.

    I don’t see the season as a waste because I think the team was too flawed to make a real SC run. They were exposed in the playoffs but got bailed out by Lundqvist in the first round. Ottawa may not have the overall talent of the Rangers but they played better as a team and had the best player on either side (Karlsson) working for them. All of the Rangers’ flaws were laid bare in that series: bad PP (totally agree on Arniel), inability to hold leads or close out games, lack of elite scoring, shaky defensive play (and not only by the guys on the blue line) and yes, questionable coaching decisions,

    I’m not on the fire AV bandwagon but I wouldn’t have a real problem if it happened. I suspect that he will have his assistants (outside of the goalie whisperer) chosen for him and some of his favorite toys taken away and he may be on a short leash for a guy with a contract extension but I think he will be back. Whether he finishes next season behind the bench may be another story.

    • May 12, 2017 at 10:01 am


      Our warts weren’t exposed during the PO’s, they were front and center for at least three years. Girardi was exposed by the Kings during the finals. Staal was exposed after his concussion, and to a certain extent after an eye injury. The coach was they’re main cheerleader, and they were his security blanket, and he over utilized there services, to the determent of the team. Holden was decent on offense, terrible on the defensive side of the house, yet deployed at crunch time. Mac Truck hasn’t played well for some time now, maybe trying to cover up for his partner, the anchor Dan. Over all, the grade for the defense was a C-D at best!!!!!!

      Then Stepan doing nothing when it counted, all season long. He played the perimeter, refused to get into the mix, where he may have had to use his purse to hit with. Some of the players who showed any guts weren’t played as much, in order to play our Daisy boy. Why have him on the PP, his shot is nonexistent? See what I mean? Crap like this all season long.

      You, and I have had words, but that’s OK, we disagree on a few things, but the main issue is the coach. Time and again, the same old same old by him, and the use of the players he has is questionable at best. I’m more vocal about it, I’ve watched him for some time, and to be perfectly honest, I think he is a great regular season guy, but when it comes to the PO’s, he’s an open book that is easily read by opposing coaches, and out witted.

      Oh, let’s not forget how he lost his best players in a game, and sat them for the closing minutes of same, again deploying his security blankets. Why would anyone put two players out there knowing that 13 of the 15 goals were scored while they were on the ice in the last series, at the most important time of the game, with a win in sight. Too busy looking like a cow, chewing his gum, while trying to look like Buddha with his arms crossed. Now that’s a joke of a coach!!!!!!!!

      • May 12, 2017 at 11:39 am

        Yes, Walt I agree with you that some of the warts have been in plain view for some time now. Girardi was already declining by the 2104 SCF (but do we even get there without him?) and Staal, a favorite of mine during his peak years because of his steady, reassuring play has never been the same since his multiple injuries. Stepan, yeah – he was terrible in the playoffs and I agree that he’s past his sell-by date. Get what you can for him before he starts really getting paid and wins a NMC. As to why he’s on the PP, well, who else is there? Pirri didn’t get it done, Buchnevich isn’t really a center. Hayes wasn’t great and Zbad was kind of meh although we have to give him some latitude because of his injury and missed time.

        As far as AV – well, I can’t really disagree with you about the blind spots he has and questionable judgements he’s made. But I would disagree that he’s the only problem. The players are as big a part of it as he is and I don’t think Mike Keenan or even Scotty Bowman could take this group to the promised land. There are just too many maddeningly inconsistent guys (Hayes, Miller, Kreider, Stepan) and only two really elite talents (McDonagh and Lundqvist) with two other guys who are just sub-elite (Zuccarello and Nash). I think McD and Hank finally wilted under the strain of having to carry the load for the rest of the guys.

        Anyway, this season is done. Let’s see if they can make enough changes and get enough growth out of Vesey and Buch to take the next steps. It wasn’t going to happen this year no matter how bad we wanted it. Look, I live in the DC area and I can tell you that Caps fans (haven’t been past the 2nd round in nearly 20 years) would kill for what the Rangers have accomplished under Torts and AV.

        • May 12, 2017 at 6:04 pm

          I did a load of work in the DC area, and remember the last time we took out the Caps, (2 years ago?) the sports radio talk shows were up in arms about if it was worth resigning some of the players, etc… Can’t think of a third best team to root against, after Filthadelphia, and the Pens!!!

          • May 12, 2017 at 6:47 pm


    • May 12, 2017 at 10:15 am

      I look at it at who looks to out up more points in the distant future. Kreider averaging Hayes rookie and junior NHL seasons doesn’t make me hopeful for him. Hayes is a lock because he’s a center and his game covers more area’s, he plays with the puck in tougher spots and makes more quality plays with it especially if he pans out correctly. JT plays without the puck in the tougher spots in the offensive zone and even though he was bumped off of it his game still covers the PK. I wouldn’t hesitate to give Kreider to a East Coast team if the price was right like to the Buffalo Sabres. I honestly rather take my chances on Evander Kane then him, both are head cases but one is at least showing signs of maturity and desire to be on the winning side. We would win that trade all day and night with how Kane could get used over here and especially in AV’s system.

      • May 12, 2017 at 11:27 am

        I have to admit, I’m not a big Kane fan, I always thought of him as a cancer, but maybe your on to something here. He would definitely add some well needed grit to the lineup!!!!!!!!!!!

        • May 12, 2017 at 3:41 pm

          Trading Kreider (and not getting back a guy like, say, Ryan Getzlaf) would be the dumbest thing they did since trading that Middleton guy.

          hot take alert

          Hayes, however….. total ham and a half. Seems like he’s more interesting in showboating than playing hockey. Maybe he grows a heart like the grinch…. wouldn’t get my hopes up on it though.

      • May 12, 2017 at 11:45 am

        I follow the Rangers, the rest of the league – not that much – so I can’t really evaluate Kane or Trouba or any of the other guys people talk about trading for. It hurts me to say this but I’m agreement with you about trading Kreider before Hayes (and I have many issues with Hayes). One reason is that I think we could get more for Kreider at this point. The other are the same reasons you articulated about Hayes being a center and his puck handling skills. I also think Hayes is a much smarter player than Kreider and has superior hockey instincts. Miller is an enigma to me. Not sure what to make of him at all.

        • May 12, 2017 at 2:24 pm

          I am in complete agreement here with Kreider and Hayes. I think given all physical attributes Hays has to get tougher, but he definitely a smarter player. Heck, I even question Kreider’s hockey IQ based on how many stupid penalties he takes outside of D-zone. Holding and holding and holding.

  • May 12, 2017 at 10:06 am

    So obviously a tough run from a frustrating organization. For starters totally agree on Scott Arniel. He should have been gone long ago. Also he was not a good coach in Columbus. And he has really never been effective with us on special teams. Time to think Brian Leetch or Adam Oates to come in to help the PP. I think Beukeboom deserves the benefit of the doubt for another year. Look at what he had to work with on D? Granted the style they played was not great for the players they had, but we don’t really know how much influence he had on deployment decisions vs AV. Also he played a good role in developing Brady Sjkei and Graves(yet to be determined) until he came up to the NHL. I think he is at least decent developing these guys and that’s what we need with the newer guys we have signed so far this off season. As for AV, he will be back next season unless we see a Tortarella type revolt in exit interviews. I am not really sure he deserves another chance but believe he will get one. If he does not change his ways however, he may not be coaching this team next April if we do make the play offs.And it is time for him to be on the hot seat.

  • May 12, 2017 at 11:01 am

    From a layman’s perspective, someone or something has to change the culture of the franchise. Living in San Diego for the past 30 years, I’ve been treated to some really bad sports organizations. Bad always seemed to flow from the top.
    While I know nothing of NYR ownership, I do hope Gorton is that change agent.

    • May 12, 2017 at 11:24 am


      Let’s put it this way, the owner Jim Dolan, trusts a man like Sather to be the top dog for his franchise over the last what 15 years, should tell you all you need to know!!!!!!!! By the way, you live in a great town, my wife and I were out there 10 years ago, stayed in the gas light section, beautiful, just beautiful!!!!!!!!

      • May 12, 2017 at 12:13 pm

        Thanks, Walt. Losing and relocating franchises aside, SD is paradise!

  • May 12, 2017 at 11:11 am

    Any confirmation if a BSB offseason plan contest is in the cards? Given the expansion draft, this is an extremely exciting year for it.

  • May 12, 2017 at 11:33 am

    Help me understand something, how was it our regular season record for maybe the last 3 years, when we had the lead going into the third period our record was unbelievable. Something like 97-98%. What happened?

    • May 12, 2017 at 12:47 pm

      We are a very different team in the playoffs – you have to go for it all – or you wind up playing scared and going for nothing. If you remember the 5th game loss to Ottawa in the 3rd period where we tried to just hold the lead like so many other games – this one was worse in that we were not even making them come 200 feet, we were happy just clearing our zone to the neutral zone or icings. A clear to the neutral zone brought Ottawa back in time after time after time – which made it yet again only a matter of time before they scored. That was not how we got there and that even goes against the simple fundamentals of the game. Play to Win OR Play to Lose!

  • May 12, 2017 at 11:50 am

    Time to revamp, we have 2 players who play the center position ( Stephan & Hayes) who play with no fire or passion, they are not playoff caliber players, unload them. On D, Goodbye Holden/Girardi /Staal/Klein. We have a good young nucleus , build from their, You may want to consider trading Hank, if you are offered a Kings ransom??? , NEED TO GET MEANER, TOUGHER, AND GET AN ELITE SCORER,

  • May 12, 2017 at 11:59 am

    “Waste” nicely sums up why I found this to be the most frustrating season ever. For me, I can’t get into trade this guy or that guy & things will be better. I also get frustrated by get this D or that D, when we have two D that have to be moved first & two more that can be sent out for a bag of pucks. Management made a big mistake not trading Klein two years ago as I was advocating. They missed the boat. Signing Brandon Pirri was another foolish move. It’s very clear to me that there is something wrong with this team from a psychological perspective that will only be changed when the coaching staff is shown the door. I’m tired of hearing what a great coach AV is when his decisions demonstrate otherwise. It’s not only a player makeover that is required but a cultural & philosophical change as well. This team needs leadership from the top down that predicates playing time on results & effort, not on “experience.” There is no need to trade Kreider, Miller etc., these guys need a coach to lead them & teach them. AV says he “wishes” he’d seen that Kreider in period 3 of the last game all the time. That’s his job to make it happen! not “wish” that it happens. The trouble with Hayes is that he is NOT a centre & JT is. Hayes does not skate well enough to play centre, he’s not physical enough & he holds on to the puck to long. The latter is a skill you want from a guy playing the boards. Miller is a natural born centre(he was tried there briefly) and he’d thrive there.
    I really don’t know how much input Beuke had in the deployment of making of D pairs or whether AV called the shots. Given his personality makeup I suspect AV had the most control, as hard core obsessives really have a hard time delegating responsibility, because they overvalue being in control, and don’t trust others to make decisions as good as they can. I’ve seen it so many times as a behavioural structure. The Suit calls it the dark side and that’s where I sit—Alain Vigneault MUST be fired & a new head coach hired.

  • May 12, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    The truth is no one really saw them going past the next round even if they beat Ottawa. The problem seems more how they lost. Adapt really that is what you think the problem is? We have watched that weak first line PP all year it wasn’t an adapt problem – it is that AV is a creature of habit – and those habits are all fail once the post season starts. Depending on those who got you there as seen for his entire playoff tenure will take us no further. The only reason we are torn is that he gets us to the playoffs and that is no small thing – BUT we will never win a CUP with him behind the bench once the playoffs start. Stephan knowing he played terrible in the playoffs is laughable he is like so many other NYR that once we show them the $$$ they go MIA. He is part of the slow that now must go. Not to pick on him – just an example of one more contract turned sour.

    • May 12, 2017 at 5:18 pm

      That no one saw them going on is not really right. Could the Rangers beat Pitt? Maybe not when Pitt is sharp. But Letang is out. Trevor Daley will miss how many games? A third defenseman could get hurt and all of a sudden, where is the blue line. A series isn’t over until it is over.

  • May 12, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Love this: “I’m a hockey man, so I know better than everyone else in the room because hockey”. I think that holds a lot of teams back.

    But Sather is still the president, and isn’t he the ultimate hockey fat cat? Looking at him up in the box, chewing his cigar, fiddling with his top hat, and cleaning his monocle gets annoying fast.

    I wish they would go with a little more modernity and forward thinking up there in the front office. Seems like they are all stuck on AV’s concept of “play your old war horses, when it comes to crunch time, they’ll deliver.” Oops.

  • May 12, 2017 at 2:53 pm

    Amen to your wasted season. Yes, they basically had a good season, but they are no closer to the promised land. We didn’t learn anything; we didn’t fix anything.

    Fun to watch, but no progress.

  • May 12, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    I do want to take issue with the Lundqvist assessment. That goaltender metrics overrate Hank should be as controversial as where the sun rises. They focus on his strengths and sidestep his weaknesses. The question is not if, but by how much — or more to the point, whether the error is substantial or close to negligible.

    • May 12, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Sorry Ray, I would’ve responded to the post you made in that prior thread, but instead (since you’re still pushing this narrative), I’ll do it here.

      In regards to your prior statement that ‘teams shoot more at him’ because they know he cannot handle the puck…. that is a total headscratcher. Perhaps you meant to say that they attempt to shoot the puck in the zone in such a manner that forces him to handle the puck more often? Because the notion that he sucks at rebounds is quite false.

      I agree that his puck handling (and decision making; see that first Ottawa goal I know you’ll invoke) leave something to be desired. But to say that (despite the aforementioned) that it causes him to be overrated… I don’t understand.

      Are you attempting to argue that we should ignore his (unmatched) GOALTENDING metrics just because he’s not able to do something he arguably shouldn’t even have to?

      While it would help if we had more than two or three competent defensemen that can move the puck… I don’t see (nearly enough) puck flubs & mistakes to consider that a serious detriment to his numbers, other than maaaybe accounting for a tiny amount (<5%) of flukey goals.

      However, I agree you raise an interesting point on perhaps what the total function of a goaltender COULD/should be, and that (if all other things are equal), that the puck-handling goaltender is superior. How superior? Difficult to say. Perhaps you could investigate how effective different goaltenders are at passing (and how that further affects the game). I don't know; I think I see what you're trying to say though.

      The problem with the aforementioned assessment is that the only goaltender who was probably ever great at puck-handling was totally hamstrung offensively by the trap they ran there (surely you know what I speak of). We've never seen a goalie (at least I haven't) that was capable of making stretch passes effectively to highly talented skaters on a reliable basis. As such, we don't have an upper limit to compare the potential effectiveness of (lol, i don't know, an offensive-minded goaltender?).

      Still, the argument, however, that (overall) we'd be better without the guy is, quite honestly, insane. You haven't addressed the tire-fire that we are defensively, and how (even with better puck management), our goaltender would still be subjected to a wildly disproportionate amount of high-quality chances against.

      Lastly, I've noticed that, whenever this squad has had their backup in (the same held true when it was Talbot), they seem more… engaged? I don't know, it just feels like they know they have to try harder in order to get the same result. (This one's a 'Hot take', I know.)

      • May 12, 2017 at 6:12 pm

        Assessing goaltenders is one of the most difficult thing in sports math – so few people, all facing different conditions. It doesn’t make sense to believe we have the answer, especially after so little serious work. The metrics more sophisticated than W-L and GAA all try to normalize goalie conditions and imagine how each goalie would perform under identical conditions. They see the goalie’s job as stopping goals, not winning, and totally disregard the tender’s influence on the rest of the players. Consider Hank with eleven other players on the ice. Picture Brodeur in his prime with the same eleven players. Actually you can’t. They aren’t the same eleven players because they are living in a different world. An opposing player struggling to maintain control tosses a soft shot at Hank, maybe he’ll catch it and give up a faceoff, or kick it into the corner. With Brodeur, that soft shot is just a giveaway.

        Fact is, the Penguins really look like a better skating team with Fleury or Murray than they would with Hank. The goalie enhances the flow. We think Hagelin is better than we thought before. Notice how many Ranger acquisitions disappoint. How important is this? I just don’t know.

        What I do know is that it is not just a goaltender’s environment that affects his results. The tender himself influences his environment.
        i also know that the goal is not to prevent goals, but to win. {Grant Fuhr handled breakaways well and allowed the Oilers to take more chances.}

        Alternative metrics are hard to come by, but by comparing a tender with his backup, you actually see two goalies with basically the same stuff to work with. Over the last four years, Hank has fared slightly worse than Talbot/Raanta. And I looked closely enough at the schedule to see that there was not much difference in the opposition. During Biron’s tenure, Hank’s winning percentage was .572 to Marty’s .564. [One and half extra wins total and that stretch included a Vezina.] I didn’t check the opposing teams for that period. I didn’t go back further; I have little doubt Hank vastly outperformed Valiquette et al. The point is that when the Rangers have had a legit NHL goalie as a backup, Hank has not won extra games.

        Statistically, one must be careful. Hank certainly may be better and bad luck is intervening. No doubt he could be worth one or two wins a year and my analysis neither supports nor contradicts that. However, if you assume he is worth four wins a year, Biron,Talbot, Raanta needed to be incredibly lucky to keep up with him.

        Now, and this is key there is a difference between being worth 4 games a year and “should be worth four games a year” and then one must also consider ‘bad luck” for hank.

        And finally, you say the team seems more engaged with Talbot or Raanta. Well, since the name of the game is winning, that is one way in which they are better than Hank.


        I like Cam Talbot a lot. I actually enjoy watching him more than Hank. The comparison is puzzling. You watch the two guys in net and it is just so obvious that Hank is worlds better than Talbot. Yet in the playoffs, the save percentages were nearly identical (.927,.924) and Cam even got lit up one game. Certainly real experts (not Ranger doom and gloomers) saw the Rangers with a stronger D than Edmonton before the year. I believe Kris Russell was derided much like Girardi; the coach sheltered the third pair. So how does Talbot do so well?

        Talbot is always engaged. When he has the puck, he passes it to a defenseman with as much skill as most of the skaters on the ice. He makes everyone else’s job easier. If I saw one play correctly, the Ducks cleared the zone on a PP and the puck miraculously reappeared. I am not sure an Oiler even crossed the red line. I am not sure how much this helps, but – and this goes to something you said — I want this guy who is making my life easier on my team.

        Hank keeps the puck out of the net and he bails out his teammates, but he doesn’t help them. I prefer a guy who helps me not make mistakes to one who softens the consequences of my errors. As a teammate, I would admire Hank, but I wouldn’t walk through fire for him.

        And so yes, maybe the Rangers just play better when Raanta is in net. Or maybe, AV has the Rangers playing a system that magnifies Hank’s weaknesses.

        • May 12, 2017 at 11:49 pm

          I’ve never commented before but I’ll actually make an observation on the comment that the team seems more focused and engaged when the back up is in.
          I’ve worked in Sports Analytics in the past, specifically basketball. For those of you familiar with 2000s NBA, you’ll recall that Marcus Camby was one of the best defensive players in the league during his career. Specifically during his years with Denver, while paired with Carmelo, he won Defensive MVP honors. Individual statistics surely indicated that he was the best defensive player on the team, if not the whole league – but line-up analytics determined that the Nuggets were actually better on defense when he was not on the court.

          The paradox flustered some of the top analytics experts and fueled the fire for those who wanted to rely on old fashion scouting and “eye” tests rather than numbers based analysis. Further analysis, and traditional scouting applied to game tape discovered an interesting conclusion. Camby was indeed the best defensive player in the NBA – so much so that Carmelo and the rest of the team often skirted their defensive duties assuming that Camby would make up for mistakes made by cheating up, going for a high risk steal, etc. When Camby was on the bench, Melo, et al., couldn’t rely on him to cover their 6, so they would be more engaged on defense, resulting in better team defensive results for line-ups without their best defensive player on the court.

          That’s not to say that it was Camby’s fault by any means; the analysis served to highlight a flaw in his teammates efforts and a lack of recognition (or was it a lack of concern) by the coaching staff. Perhaps that would better explain the phenomena that the defense seems to play better when the back up is in, instead of with Hank, or why some have cited that the teams metrics stay relatively unchanged regardless of whether Hank is in net or the back up is, even when Hanks individuals metrics support the case that he is in fact an irreplaceable, elite goalie.

          • May 13, 2017 at 5:22 pm


  • May 12, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    The final impression I have is the Rangers losing a series that they should have won in 5, with one arm tied behind their backs.

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