lindy ruff

Three questions for the mailbag. As always, use the widget on the right to submit questions for the mailbag.

Dave asks: We keep hearing about how Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello are going to be traded. Has there been anything legitimate on these rumors?

The short answer is no. None of the rumors are legitimate, at least not for any specific teams. It is safe to assume that the Rangers are at least getting calls about both, though.

The rumormongering is educated guessing. Winnipeg could use an upgrade at 2C. Most teams could probably use Zuccarello. It’s educated spitballing. Given the free fall, it wouldn’t shock me to get actual teams connected to rumors sometime soon.

Ray asks: What is going on with the defense? It’s like they forgot how to play all of a sudden.
Anthony asks: Does Lindy Ruff still coach the blue line? This has been terrible.

These are kind of the same question, so I’m going to group them together. For those that don’t know, when Alain Vigneault was coaching the Rangers, Lindy Ruff was really in charge of the blue line. They shared similar styles of coaching, so AV delegated.

As for the current issues, the major issue is that no one can seem to stop the easy passes from getting through. The good defense from early on, where they limited chances to the outside, is all gone. They are regressing to old habits. The weird thing is the defensemen aren’t chasing guys to the blue line, so that aspect of the defense isn’t a problem. It’s something else.

Part of the issue is personnel. As good as Fredrik Claesson has been, when he’s arguably your best defenseman, you have a problem. Eventually Brady Skjei will figure it out, of that I’m confident. But the rest of the blue line? I want Neal Pionk and Tony DeAngelo to stick and improve, but they are kids and only time will tell? Marc Staal has been better, but not great. Kevin Shattenkirk has been covered extensively here, plus he’s hurt. Adam McQuaid and Brendan Smith are just bad.

This is the difficult part of the rebuild. It’s going to get worse before it gets better. But in theory, the end result will be worth it.

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