NY Rangers thoughts following a weird week

The NY Rangers won twice but needed stellar goaltending

It’s been an interesting week in Rangerland. The Rangers won, Henrik Lundqvist is still The King. Artemi Panarin is as advertised. The kids, the ones who play at least, are improving. But the Rangers still get caved in regularly. As per usual, I have my thoughts.

1. Last night, Lundqvist stopped 45 of 47. The night before, he stopped 35 of 36. That’s 80 of 83 for a .964 SV%. He faced a 3.51 xGA from Carolina (allowed two) and a 1.95 xGA from Detroit (allowed one). To explain that, the Blueshirts, all things created equal, should have given up 5.5 goals in those two games. Because of Lundqvist, it was only 3 goals against. Vintage Hank.

2. I do like that veterans are being held accountable for their poor play. Marc Staal and Brady Skjei have been healthy scratches. What I don’t get is why some of the kids who are clearly playing poorly, Libor Hajek and Brett Howden, don’t get scratched. It’s not a vendetta, it’s that they aren’t playing well. But what do I know?

3. I can’t have been the only one who laughed when Lias Andersson deflected the Sebastian Aho goal last night. Lias’ first of the season is surely to get him benched next game. I’m being facetious, but it was the first thing that crossed my mind.

4. There’s a lot of talk about how Jacob Trouba needs to be better. And yes, that is true. He’s been struggling while adjusting to whatever system this is. He’s also been saddled with the zombiefied corpse of Brady Skjei and Hajek for most of his time. Trouba should be good enough to drag them around at some point, but yikes those top pairings have been bad. The need for a true 1LD is very apparent.

5. How about that Ryan Strome? His underlying numbers are still awful, but he’s able to keep up with Artemi Panarin. That works for me. The rub on Strome was that he couldn’t create on his own. But if he can do this consistently with Panarin without dragging down his production, then so be it.

6. If Strome continues to produce with Panarin, I guess we will see Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich reunited, bumping Filip Chytil to the third line with Brendan Lemieux and Kaapo Kakko? Where does that put Lias Andersson and Brett Howden? Something to watch as Zibanejad gets healthy.

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  • 1. Libor play pretty good for the guy with only 19 games under belt.
    2. They are going to put Strome on a right of Breadman and Ziba, and Lias will have Jesper in help
    3. Staal must receive season ticket in press box, he is not terrible, and he is not awful, he is absolutely other level, when bloggers claim Rangers should trade Staal it only enterteins me, it’s hillarious
    4. Trade Strome while he is PPG player, this will nosustainable, earlier or later he is going to drop productivity, trade for Cole Caufield, love this boy

    • Don’t disagree with your points with the exception of #1. Hajek has not been good. In fact, he’s been bad. I think he should spend some time in the AHL. Hartford is actually conducive to growth now and it should help him (same for Lias/Howden but I digress).

      • There’s nothing wrong with Hajek’s game, he’s been playing quite well and getting top line minutes. Analytics doesn’t work in hockey it just doesn’t because there’s to many variables. I’ve looked at Hajek overall play and he’s developing fine. You look at film not computer generated paper.

          • I believe the coaches opinion carries the most weigh Dave. While we in the peanut gallery are quick to second guess, often times there is good reason while some players play more then others.

    • Everyone wants to look at individuals compared to the affect they have in the team. Getting rid of Stome and Smith will have more impact on this team than missing Mika for 5 games.

    • It would take A LOT more than Strome to get Caufield, a lot more ….. and I agree, his 20%+ shooting percentage isn’t sustainable, but his point production just might be.

    • I’m fine trading Strome, but there is an argument that hed be a fine RW for the top line, if hes not a center. Less defensive responsibilities and he can score. It creates more depth to get Haley off the ice because Fast could go down to the 4th line and help Lias.

  • You do not bench the kids….They will learn as they play….okay maybe bench em for a game here and there….but Ice play is the best form of experience

  • Strome is not old by any means. Krieder is older.
    Why is Smith still playing wing?

    Zibby should return and Smith should sit
    Go out and get a RW for the 3rd line – did someone say Kraftsov?

  • Anybody who believes Trouba isnt living up to his billing, hasn’t watched him play in Winnipeg. Yes he is a good stabilizing Dman, but he is not going to carry a team on his back.

  • I would sit Staal again, I mean how many times can you fail to get a puck out of your own defensive end without thinking he’s secretly playing for the other team? he’s definitely the top buyout candidate for this summer, Smith on the other hand has proven to be somewhat valuable.

    Slowly but surely I’m starting to adjust my feelings about Strome. Sure, 20%+ shooting percentage isn’t sustainable but he’s been incredibly productive playing on a line with Panarin — they do work well together, along with Fast. I’ll want to see this type of play from Strome for another 20-30 games, but after that the Rangers might want to consider signing him for a few more years … and with regard to Tony D, they should definitely be talking. I’m ASSUMING here, but I imagine both could be signed without an odious NTC/NMC … and that’s a key component with any deal, sometimes even more so than an extra 500k cap hit.

    • I was thinking the same thing last night,Staal is the worst player I’ve seen in my life at clearing the puck out his own D zone.

  • Hajek should be the next one to take a day off. Trouba’s play has been affected by Hajek. Don’t know why Lindgren was given the day off when Staal initially returned. Lindgren and Fox have been the best tandem we’ve had.

    Buch-Chytil-Kreider line should not be touched. They have played well together. When Zibs comes back he should center Panarin and Strome. If they want Strome to stay at center keep the Strome-Panarin-Fast line and have Zibs play with Kakko and Lemieux. Howden or Andersson should be sent down to Hartford but Quinn loves Howden so he’s going nowhere. McKegg-Howden/Andersson-Smith is a decent 4th line. Haley should only see the ice when someone else needs a “maintenance” day. That’s 3 solid lines with a scoring threat on each line as well as a grinder.

    • Haley should never see the ice ever. He takes bonehead penalties and can’t keep up with the play. The Rangers squad can take care of themselves, they don’t need extra baggage.

      • Actually Haley does not take to many penalties for someone in his role. That is why he still gets to play from time to time.

        • All year, you mean in 8 games where his average ice time is 6 minutes. He is not even a deterrent on the ice, unless you believe getting beat up is going to some how inspire his teammates.

          • He’s had 2 fights this year and won both of them,taking more skilled players than himself off the ice with him,,like you said he plays 6 mins a game,I think you are greatly exaggerating his negative impact on the team.

  • 1. Hank has been the man the past 2 games.
    2. Staal and Skjei should actually both sit some time. Let Smith play with Trouba on left D. Fox-Lindgren and Hajek-ADA. Glad the coach sat each one. The only way to deal with a problem is to know you have one. In this case we have a few.
    3. Lias took a penalty too. It’s almost like he’s jinxed.
    4. Agree his partners have not been great, but he’s had some bad moments this week on his own. All this talk about the D makes me continue to wonder how Lindy Ruff remains employed here.
    5. Strome is enhancing his trade value. If we are looking like the play offs are a no go( still to early to tell, but a lot needs to break our way) he should be traded. If he keeps producing points , even with Panarin, he should bring back a pretty good return. Still an RFA too.
    6.I would not be surprised to see Lias sent to Hartford. Seems he can do no right. At least no one in management can see it.

    Lots of chatter on Puljujarvi this week. I believe he gets traded this month due to the December 1 signing deadline. I also believe The Rangers will be in on him too.

    • and nice week for Lemieux too…I thought he brought a lot of grit and offense this week. He really elevated his game.

  • For Quinn to finally give in and say Skjei is playing poorly is a revelation. Can Rykov and KMiller be the eventual heirs to the left side with Hajek? Robertson? It’s going to be a couple of years before the left side is sorted out but I wont be shocked if a waiver move on Skjei is in the future. He appears to be regressing. The best case is if Seattle takes him in the expansion draft… I would add an incentive to make that happen. Per Cap Friendly I don’t see a NMC in his contract.

    • The whole LHD is a problem. Skjei has not played well for a 2nd season now, he still has the best skill set of the 4 guys playing there now; but obviously the longer he doesn’t get it together the less likely he will ever establish himself. It’s far from certain the Hajek or Rykov will even make it as top 4 dmen. Hajek has struggled so far and should not be playing with Trouba but we have no good candidates for that. Lindgren has looked decent but has poor puck skills so his upside is limited. So we look to the next set of prospects with Miller by far the most promising. Robertson is a good prospect, that all at this time; he could develop or just be another Hajek level B prospect.

      Agree that Skjei could ultimately be left unprotected for Seattle if he doesn’t turn it around; no point worrying about that now. I see the 4 LHD’s rotating who is sitting out with Staal probably the most. It’s not like Quinn has good options at this time so its probably best not to freak out about which LHD sits out on a given night. Any of them that actually start playing well will have little competition to stay in the line-up, and injuries are bound to pop up as the season progresses.

  • Kakko is showing he is our best right winger. He belongs on top line when Mika returns.
    I wouldn’t touch Kreids/Chytil/Buch they are playing good heavy hockey.
    Strome and Fast sprinkled on 3rd and 4th line is pretty sweet.
    Yes Henrik played well last night and won us the game but I don’t think the game was as lopsided as the stats imply.

  • Let’s give Buch some love here. He has clearly been our best right winger. His playmaking is elite for a winger and he can score too. And Quinn seems to have figured out how to coach him to get him to play at his best (unlike AV).

    Kakko has still not figured out the game here. He is very strong with the puck and making solo plays but has not really developed chemistry with any line-mates. And you can see his frustration as he continually tries to make plays that don’t lead to as many goals as he is used to. He will almost certainly figure it out and he’s only 18 but he has not played that well so far – just sayin’.

    • I agree on both points. Buchnevich has been playing very well while Kakko certainly has not.

      Buch is passing the puck so well it is scary. Kakko has indeed tried too much solo diddling (a la early Kovalev!) Kakko might have benefitted from some Hartford time, but his skill level is such that it is understandable that management wanted him to stay with the big club. I am sure he will learn, but right now he definitely has a ways to go.

    • You’re right Buch has been the better winger to date. He has earned the top line status. But, it simply doesn’t make sense to breakup the 2nd line – they are playing too well. Still, Panarin/Mika/Kakko is the future.

  • I am completely puzzled by the travails of Brady Skjei. The kid has a great skill set and in the past has played good hockey. It seems that once he went from being an understudy to being depended upon that he fell apart. I hope he can get it together.

    • Peter

      You have a valid point here, and if I were a betting man, I’d say the pressure is getting to the kid???????

  • I am seriously doubting player evaluations and useage…
    1.. Anyone who isn’t 100% convinced Stall is the worst ought to be put in stretch jacket

    2. Don’t get Kreisler now switched to his off-wing when all his goals were off the flying rush from left side (truthfully the guy has limited scoring skills and trying to shoot off the wrong foot is not funny)

    3. Lias should be traded cause use here is killing his dream

    4. Howden is at-best a 4th line center

    5. Can u believe DQ put Stall (can’t get the puck outta the Dzone) and Kreisler (can’t get the boards off the boards and up the ice) in the final 2 minutes yesterday…. oh and Panarin. Just what we want, our best O player trying to block a shot….wow

    • Neither will last at their current point production rate. JT Miller is already on his 3rd organization and has started quickly after each trade he’s gone through—he was garbage for Tampa last year and that’s why they traded him. For all the talk of high maintenance with Kravtsov—Miller’s parents are allegedly part of the package that comes with him, and that’s one reason why JT has never gotten along with his coaches. He’s a cocky spoiled brat who runs to mom and dad when coaches (deservedly) get on his case. And he stinks in the playoffs.

      Shattenkirk and Tampa. Gutless overrated player meets gutless overrated team. A perfect match. Neither player is missed by the Rangers, Shatty especially did nothing for NYR in 2 seasons and was the wrong fit for Quinn and Ruff’s “defensive scheme”.

  • At least Stall is untradable – we won’t have to see him as a somewhat serviceable 3rd pair d on a properly coached team. The more I see of this group under DQ, the more I like the players and the less I like the coach. His good qualities (good with the kids?) don’t cover his lack of defensive system. Trouba, Skjei, Hayek, and Lindgren and even Stall are not the real problem. It’s the coaching and d system. For all of Hank’s brilliance last game, how many times were he and the d on totally different pages on plays behind the net? That’s coaching.

  • It was kind of funny that Lias tried so hard to score the 1st goal of the season and unfortunately he tipped the puck in his own net behind Hank, and Hank was jumping up and down, I guessed he was cursing in Swedish or something. Honestly I kind of feel bad for the kid, we all know he tries very hard and I don’t think DQ is going to bench him next game for this.

  • Yes, Libor Hajek made some minor mistakes but he didn’t play that bad, he is OK. Hajek needs more playing time. Howden is a 3C on a good team, and he is pretty good defensively and his faceoff is not bad. What worries me about Skjei is his defense is getting worse and worse compare with his first two years, but he is still only 25.

  • If Zib comes back healthy and Strome is playing well, then Filip Chytil will move to 3C, and no doubt Howden will be the 4C. What about Dave’s favorite young Ranger, Mr. Andersson? Maybe a trip to AHL?

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