Random Friday Thoughts

Photo credit: Julie Jacobson

With their nail biter win last night, the Rangers have now won two in a row and the process looks a lot better than it did a week ago, despite a rash of injuries.  The Blueshirts have four games remaining before the All-Star break, all against Western Conference opponents.  Should be an interesting week. Anyway, I have some thoughts…

1. It’s nice to see Rick Nash see some reward for his effort.  According to Matthew Barlowe (@matt_barlowe), Nash leads the Rangers in discrepancy between his iXG (expected goals) and actual goals.  The implication here is that Nash is snake bitten, which is certainly true, but I think there is also reality that he just simply isn’t the finisher that he used to be.  He still creates, as he is 26th in the league overall in iXG, and we are seeing some of that statistical correction this week, with four goals in his past two games.  This raises his season total to 13 on the season, which increases his pace to just over 23 goals for the season.  Obviously, not what you would expect for a $7.8 million cap hit, but this is still a very useful player the team should re-sign if the cost is reasonable.

2. I feel like the lineup decision to ice Nash-Zibanejad-Buchnevich was a “blind squirrel finds a nut” moment for AV.  More “process of elimination” than “process”.  He clearly views Miller as a middle-to-bottom six guy, so it was basically “let’s put my remaining NHL players on a line together and see what happens”.  I think what is so frustrating is that given the talent on the roster, it becomes very difficult to actually gauge whether or not this team could get hot and go on a run, because players are not put in a position to succeed.  (cue the “fire AV” discussion)

3. As you can see from the map below, the Rangers are still hemorrhaging HD shots against.  Now, they had more HD shots than the Sabres last night (14 v 12), but a couple things: 1. the Sabres are terrible, so you better get more HD shots against than them if you fancy yourself a contender, and 2) not all HD shots are created equal.  If you look at the second map, you see the defined area that encompasses HD shots is a pretty decent size.  Mapping the actual shots shows you the Rangers allowed 10 HD shots from what I would define as the “net mouth” (below the dots and inside the circles) to just six shots against the Sabres from that location.  To me, the difference comes down to goaltending, but there is going to be a tremendous amount of statistical variance in those locations, depending on a number of factors.  More often than not, though, Henrik Lundqvist is better than Robin Lehner.  Not that anyone needed additional evidence that goaltending is masking massive systemic deficiency, but here in a micro-example.


4. Now, onto less technical things.  Let’s start with the All-Star game.  Snore.  The NHL lost me when guys started wearing capes for the breakaway relay.  I remember being a kid watching the Skills Competition and being blown away.  It could be because I was young and stupid and thought it was entertaining. Or, it could be because no one takes it seriously anymore and it becomes forty guys dicking around for their own amusement instead of the audiences’.  The new 3-on-3 format was fun when the NHL was pissed at John Scott, but I can’t imagine bothering watching this year unless there is really nothing else on.  Maybe for Lundqvist, maybe, but probably not.

5. You know what else is motivating me not to watch the All-Star game?  Kid Rock.  Really?  We are legitimately hiring Kid Rock to play an NHL All-Star game in 2018? Forget any potential political connotations that may rankle half of your fan base (we are not getting into that part of it here), how about the fact that he is a terrible musician and nobody associates hockey with the American south? Intrepid Twitter user Ian (@Ie_canuck) tracked down a list of comparably priced acts that the NHL could/should have hired instead of Kid Rock. (see list below).  There is so much opportunity there!  Want some brit pop? Sure, how about some New Order? Want the folk rock that hockey fans love so much?  You got Hall and Oates and Bryan Adams.  Want to get weird?  Throw Jamiroquai out there.  How much would Canadians love to see Alanis Morrisette make her triumphant return? Rock legend Bob Dylan? Let’s let Billy Idol rock out for a six-minute set.  My point is, literally anyone but Kid Rock would be a better choice.  Oh, and the NHL knows this.  They just don’t care.

6. Next on my sh*tlist is the Olympics.  Forget the putrid uniform choices, it’s the rosters that give your gag reflex a workout.  My god, is this going to be boring.  Now, I could be wrong and you could see some inspired, non-professional guts and glory hockey, but who are we kidding? These guys are all pros.  Just not NHL’ers.  They are retreads playing in lower leagues with a few high-ceiling youngsters mixed in.  Give me the World Junior rosters on the Olympic stage over this dreck any day.

7. Let’s pivot back to the Rangers for a minute.  Given Hank’s workload, I would rather he just get some rest over the break, but since he is playing, I think would behoove the organization to get Pavelec some playing time over this west coast swing.  I would give Pavelec Colorado and Anaheim, while giving Hank the Kings and Sharks.  That would at least give him 2+ days off in between games leading up to the break.  Especially since Hank is still on pace for 70 starts this year.

8.* (Updated) Well, apparently, Kevin Shattenkirk has a torn meniscus and will require surgery.  Usually the time frame for this type of thing is anywhere between 4-12 weeks, depending on a variety of things.  This gives us a mid-February best case scenario, but you know it’s waaaaay too convenient for the Rangers to be able to analyze its performance over the next month with an eye on the deadline and have his return imminent.  Honestly, with the injuries to this point, I don’t think the Rangers can stick their head in the sand and not at least consider selling, but you know they will.

Alright, that’s it for me this week.  Good luck staying up for those 10:30pm games, everyone!

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  • With all of these injuries and this lineup help you gather by dicky tape and bubble gum it’s time to blow it up.It’s getting to the point that it’s time to set up this team for next year or the year after

  • New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has recalled defenseman Tony DeAngelo and forward Daniel Catenacci from the Wolf Pack.

    In addition, the Rangers have assigned forward Lias Andersson to Hartford.

    With the injuries and the impending deadline – the moving and shaking has begun…..

  • Selling at the deadline(or not) is going to have a big impact on our future. This draft could really help us get our farm system replenished and set us up for a short but necessary rebuild. Nash getting hot improves his trade value. Grabner should also be sought after and bring back a decent return. If we want to resign these guys next year fine, but do what the Yankees did with Chapman and The Mets with Bruce. Holden and Desharnais could bring back late round draft picks which is also fine. Don’t see us doing a big trade now, but if prices are high and someone wants to over pay us for an asset, please let them. These injuries really suck. Only silver lining is some young kids will get to play. Glad to see Andersson in Hartford now. A sign of things to come for the future. If they do move out a bunch of folks we may see what Andersson and Chytil can do in the NHL.

  • Well I will give Shatty a pass for sucking recently since Zipay is saying he has been dealing with the injury most of the season.

    Time to sell at this point!

    • Yep, who knew? But Shatty was uncharacteristically bad for there not to be a reason.

      I think there’s something seriously wrong with Ranger management to let core players play with such serious injuries for such a long period of time.

  • Maybe we get lucky and Andersson is called back to the NHL. Would really like to see them add a defenseman. Maybe a bottom pair guy that can be effective in a 5-6 D role for depth.

    • The problem is they are all bottom pair guys except for McD and Skeij. At Staal at times. The rest are garbage.

  • My random Friday thoughts: 1st I’m glad Shatty is getting the surgery. I wish they had gone that route sooner as he clearly was not playing up to par. Same thing they did with Mac. Let these guys heal. 2nd: with respect to Hank you could see he was not on his game the way he has been for most nights since Halloween. But what struck me is something he has called “battle level.” He just fought and fought and made 2 unbelievable saves at the end of the game. More of the guys on the team need to develop a better battle level if they are going to get anywhere. Zuuc, Quickie, and Smith have it. Who are the others? For all the Buch love he does not have that compete level that elevates his game when things aren’t going smoothly. Mika is on his way there, but he’s not there yet. I’m not talking about fights or grit or, god forbid, Tanner Glass. I’m talking about the players we have doing the dirty work in the corners, on the forecheck, backcheck, protecting the crease, etc. They need more guys who play like Patrick Hornqvist – skilled guys who harass and intimidate goalies.

  • Whether you like him or not (I do), he is a big star. As far as past performers, I do not consider Clay Aiken, Simple Plan(?), The Hives, Robert Randolph (past performers) to be exactly big stars.

    Getting back to hockey, I do agree that the NHL All Star event absolutely sucks. 3-3? Really?

    Why even bother…

  • I am on record as not being a Nash supporter for what he brings based on salary. And for those who preach his all round game- If he is that good defensively then why has he never been nominated for the Selke.

    But….He was a MONSTER last night – nuf said

    As far as Kid Rock goes – I can’t stand him but who gives a flyin crap – that is like saying you are not going to watch the Super Bowl because you don’t like Bruce as the halftime entertainment – which of course is utterly impossible.

    It is not going to stop me from attending – If anyone happens to be coming to Tampa for the game – give me a shout

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