Thoughts on the lines, special teams, and Canes injuries

The NY Rangers had their last full scrimmage this week, and the lines appear to be set. There weren’t many changes, and there were no surprises in camp. The Blueshirts will travel to Toronto soon, and prep for their exhibition game with the Islanders on the 29th.

1. The Brendan Lemieux suspension impacts the Rangers because they lose a good net front presence. However they have the depth to withstand that injury. Phil Di Giuseppe can slide into that 3LW role, leaving the fourth line relatively unchanged with Brett Howden, Julien Gauthier, and Greg McKegg. When he returns, I can see him being inserted into either the third or fourth line.

2. If there are any changes to the lineup, it will be at the 3LW spot and for most of the fourth line. It sounds like the top eight forwards are set. Di Giuseppe had a solid run to end the season and looked to be a good depth forward. Gauthier did nothing wrong, but didn’t make himself stand out. The issue will be how much Howden is used, and if the long rest helped him at all. So far, he hasn’t showed he belongs, yet the coaching staff uses him regularly.

3. As for the defense, Brendan Smith is the best option to join Jacob Trouba. Libor Hajek is in the Howden boat of needing more time, or just not being NHL players. That pairing should be able to hold their own defensively while Adam Fox and Tony DeAngelo (separately) do the heavy lifting offensively. It’s not ideal, especially with Staal getting regular minutes at even strength and on the PK, but this is a flawed roster.

4. Speaking of the PK, the simple fix is to swap out Staal with Fox. Fox is paired with Ryan Lindgren at even strength anyway, and is probably the best pair the Rangers have right now. To win in the playoffs, you ride your best players. Fox is their best defenseman by a country mile. I get why David Quinn might want to rest Fox, who will likely get 20-25 minutes a night without PK time, but it’s the playoffs.

5. The top powerplay unit will carry the Rangers, if it comes to that. I’m expecting sloppy play in the first 2-3 games of the series, which means stick penalties and powerplays. The problem is the Canes have a solid top unit as well.

6. Dougie Hamilton is out for “weeks,” which helps the Rangers tremendously. That’s a big loss for the Canes, who were already without Brett Pesce. They still have solid defensive depth, but replacing both is a tall order. It wouldn’t shock me to see the top-six of the Rangers pinning them down regularly.

7. The Rangers have a big edge in net. But don’t sleep on the Canes, even with their injuries. This is a very good team.

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  • In practice, DQ switched up the fourth line putting Howden at center and McKegg on the wing. He said it had something to do with face-offs, but I suspect it has more to do with what happens when Lemieux comes back. I think he is preparing Howden to be fourth line center so he can bench McKegg.

    Good and bad news: Good – less likely to bench diGuiseppi or Gauthier.
    Bad – no plans to bench Howden. The latter I suppose is both regrettable and absolutely predictable.

  • This is going to be no push over series. I suspect that management isn’t taking the Canes lightly, nor should anyone else for that matter.

    DQ is taking the guys that got him here, and will ride them for as long as he can. That’s loyalty, but stupid. Howden is a liability, and the world knows this to be the case. McKegg is the better choice for the center position, and also has PO experience. Howden tries hard, but it may be time that the team thinks about letting him play for a while in the AHL, the boy just doesn’t have what it takes. DQ has his pets, and Howden is tops on that list!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    AV with Tanner Glass anyone?????????????

      • “He’s still a kid developing into a role.”

        As what?

        Every stat you can come up with shows what an awful player he is. Traditional stats, advanced stats, stat stats, etc.

        The only thing keeping Howden in the NHL is a thickheaded coach who likes him. That’s it. I would like to know what you see in Howden that makes you think that the rest of us are wrong. Because David here, has put up more than enough stats to show that Howden is a bad NHL player. I would put McKegg in the middle over Howden any day.

        And what’s worse, is that Lias outplayed Howden last offseason, but to no avail because Howden’s “intentions” were better than Lias’, according to the coach. Which started the process for wasting a 7th overall pick. Well done.

        This coach puts a proven goal scorer, Gaut, on the 4th line, rendering him a useless talent, while putting Fast, a pure 4th liner, on with Panarin. So my confidence in how the coach deploys his personnel is extremely low.

        • Hey bro!! Hope everything and everyone is well!!

          As for the hockey, Lias is NOT an NHL player in any way. Not physically and not mentally. The kid is a bust of the highest order and was a pick worthy of Clarke being dismissed. Howden busts his ass and has some work to do still on his balance and his overall strength. He is a tall lanky kid who is just 22 years old and hit career highs in his second year in goals and points. You are giving up on him way too early. It also isn’t warranted. Anyway, that’s my view on it.

          • Hey bro, I hope that all is well with you and your family as well!!

            Yeah, I know where you stand on Howden, lol. I’m not saying that Lias is “all that” but he did not get the long leash that Howden did, and continues to get.

            I don’t see anything in this kid that screams “NHL player.” I posted David’s write up on Howden, dated July 3rd I believe, that is awaiting moderation here to be posted for viewing. I think that you need to read it again, lol.

          • Lias didn’t get the leash that Howden is getting because Lias is an arrogant asshole . Lol

      • Verbeeks Nose

        Why is it hate to mention the truth? What you can’t handle it. The kid isn’t NHL material, maybe down the road, but at this point in time, he’s lousy………………

        • Unfortunately Howden has shown zero ability to play in the NHL.

          His possession stats are beyond horrible and his ability to receive a pass without flubbing is lacking as well.

          On another note, I would take DiG off the 3rd line and try Gaut on the off wing, to have him play with Chytil and Kakko. That would be an interesting line to me since Gaut has proven to be a true goal scorer in the AHL.

          • Tony

            The idea of Gauthier on the 3rd line makes too much sense to me. As mentioned he is skilled, and proven to be a scorer, but his talent is being wasted on the 4th line, when we can have a really young line, with plenty of potential for scoring, that could be together for a few years to come. DQ doesn’t seem to be able to think out of the box, as exemplified by your suggestion………..

          • Walt, putting Gaut on the 4th line with Howden and McKegg is basically rendering Gaut a useless asset and talent.

            IDK, but the off wing for righties like Ovi, Zib, and Panarin seem to work pretty well, why not give Gaut a shot there, to at least TRY and get some value out of him?

            It’s not rocket science.

          • MikeNJ

            What are you talking about?

            Who said to do what your suggesting?

            All we are saying is move Gauthier to the third line with Chytil, and Kakko, and move Lemieux to the fourth, or Phil Di to the 4th.

          • I was sarcastic. DQ have ahort leashes and long ones. As I’ve seen for 2 years, the better talented players used to get shorter leashes. And vets and less talented kids have long or no leashes at all

      • he is lazy kid who stopped progressing from what he started here. He knows he is DQ favorite pet so he takes it as given. I thought he could be a good kid, but he lean on DQ that what DQ does in development. Super talented play well, they don’t need DQ coaching. Kids like Howddy just regressing. See Lem too, he came here and played really well, till became DQ pet

        • “Howddy just regressing.”

          Maybe he shouldn’t have trained with a under achiever all last summer lol (CK).

          • Yeah the under achiever who continues to outpoint Saint Kevin every season. Give up already and stop trolling the site.

      • Verbeeks Nose

        The lack of true hockey experience is what hurts here. I think fans would have a greater appreciation if they had first hand experience with the sport.

        “”Elite”” or “”very good 2c”” Chytilmania
        Points- 49 (lol)

        Plain old Howden

        7 point difference! This is why NHL isn’t as popular as other sports. This wouldn’t be a discussion in football or basketball, maybe that Chytil has a higher ceiling still but that is it.

        • The biggest difference between Howden and Andersson on the one hand and Chityl and Kakko on the other is potential. Brett Howden will never be a top six forward. He will never be a particularly good third line forward. Might he some day be as good or better than Greg McKegg? Sure, it’s possible. Was he better in the regular season than Kakko? Yes. But whereas developing the younger and much more talented Kakko should be a priority, there simply is no reason to prioritize developing the low ceiling Howden to the point where you play him ahead of better players such as Boo Nieves.

          • Ray

            Great post, and spot on with your analysis. Now let’s see that mental giant (NOT) NotsoAvery will dissect your opinion, and tell us all we know nothing. What a jerk!!!!

        • NotsoAvery

          I didn’t sleep at the Holiday Inn last night, but I know bull shit when I see it. My man that’s all you every spew on this great site!!!!!!!!!!!

    • “The impact on Kakko is profound. That’s not good. Again not a perfect analysis, but it does confirm what we saw in the prior two charts. Brett Howden, simply put, struggles at the NHL level and is not a viable option for the Rangers.

      There is some evidence to suggest that Howden might fare better at wing. That said, his overall results don’t warrant much more of a leash. Howden is entering his third and final year of his ELC. If he doesn’t improve, Howden might find himself as the Rangers expansion draft bait next summer.”

      Grade: D

      To the dip sticks who had fun with the thumbs down a go-go, read the above as written by Dave, based on the stats that all players are measured by, and weep. The kid is bad, period. End of discussion.

      Please have you idiotic fun with the thumbs down, or better yet, try to defend your point of view, morons……………..

  • Report: Dougie Hamilton’s timetable to return from latest injury could be weeks away. Fresh from the press, and it may be a blessing in disguise………….

    • Hopefully we won’t see any hot goalies. the Rangers have the best goalie in hockey. That can be neutralized if someone else gets really hot.

  • In my opinion there is every reason to believe that Howden SHOULD be better than he is, but he has obviously not been good at all. The best thing for him might be a long stint in the AHL to find out whether he has it in him or not to be a NHL forward.

    • Peter

      Thanks for seeing the truth, and validating my point. The Howden kid tries, and give his all, but that’s not producing results.
      Maybe a stint in the AHL, as stated above by me, and yourself, is needed to save this career, because it’s going nowhere quick.

      Take a look at the thumbs down for pointing out the truth, too many don’t, and or won’t see the truth if their lives depended on it. I’ll stick to my guns, the kid needs a shot in the arm, a new tooter, and change of location, whatever you want to call it, but he shouldn’t be with the parent team.

  • Personally, I don’t really much care how this series goes down. Either way the team is in good position going forward. The flat cap sucks but it is what it is.
    A loss gives the NYR a shot at a top draft pick and a series win is a win. Done together as a group in the playoffs. The experience alone is invaluable.

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