Rangers/Hurricanes Matchup: Carolina with a big edge on defense

Following up to yesterday’s forwards matchup, the defense in this Rangers/Hurricanes series is going to play a big role in this series. These are two teams that have had months to study one another. Coaching will always matter, but skill and ability will drive effectiveness.

Rangers Defense – Strong on the Right, Bad on the Left

It doesn’t take rocket science to know that the Rangers are far better on the right side than on the left. When it comes to their pairings, Adam Fox carries Ryan Lindgren (although that isn’t as bad as you might think) and Tony DeAngelo drags around the corpse of Marc Staal. Interestingly enough, there’s a case to be made that Brendan Smith is the best LD on the roster, and he can hold his own on the top pair.

The right defense is where the skill is for the Rangers, but you are only as good as your weakest link. That left defense is just bad. The Canes will target that left side on dump and chase, knowing the puck is a grenade on their sticks. Once the Rangers give up the blue line, it will be about positional hockey.

The Canes – Injured Yet Still Great

The Hurricanes will be without Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce for this series. That likely doesn’t matter much. The Canes are still running a top-six of Jaccob Slavin, Jake Gardiner, Brady Skjei, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Sami Vatanen, and one of Haydn Fleury or Joel Edmundson. Each of these guys is better than at least half of the Rangers (mostly the left half), if not more.

The Canes’ blue line is one of the best in the league. And yes, missing Hamilton and Pesce is a big win for the Rangers, but that doesn’t make the Canes any less dangerous. Slavin works with whoever he gets paired with. The only “bad” pairing is Edmundson and TVR. The rest are at very worst “fun”.

The Rangers, when hot, excel at pressuring defensemen and forcing turnovers. The problem is that every defenseman on the Canes excels at moving the puck. Skjei might actually be the weakest link there, and he’s no slouch either.

The X-Factor

Brendan Smith has the possibility to really balances out that top pair with Jacob Trouba. Smith has always held his own throughout the lineup, and on-ice ability to survive is key. We’ve seen that the bottom-four can do more than just hold their own. If Smith can balance out the top pair and keep himself and Trouba in the “dull” category, then the Rangers might be able to survive some of that top-end skill the Canes have.

The Canes have the edge at forward, and they have a huge edge at defense. The Rangers will need some of lady luck on their side in this one. Or just a goalie standing on his head.

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  • So, according to you they are better on offense and better on defense than we are. While our goalie may get the edge over them, please do not select the NYR to win if you feel most of the edge goes to the Canes

  • Clearly we suck compared to Carolina and yet somehow we beat them consistently. Maybe it’s magic?

    “Each of these guys is better than at least half of the Rangers (mostly the left half), if not more.” HUH? If not more? I’ll take any of our RD over their current Top 6 and Lindgren over at least half of them. I don’t think Carolina’s D’ has a BIG edge over ours — certainly not without Pesce and Hamilton.

    • i agree with you Tanto and will add Jake Gardiner clearly trending the wrong way in his career. Brady Skjei conjures up the same question we kept asking ourselves; will we see the rookie season Brady Skjei or the Skeji we’ve known the past 3 seasons? Also Vatanen has struggled to stay healthy the past 2 seasons. And I have to disagree with Dave that missing Hamilton and Pesce doesn’t make their D less dangerous. They are both a lot better than any D men on this team, other than Slavin. They will be greatly missed by Carolina.

    • Completely agree Jerry!
      The guy has played 13 selfless years for the Rangers, and has sacrificed vision in his eye
      So now he’s called the “corpse” of himself?!?

      • Unfortunately, the man has been on a slippery slop for a few years. What both of you are talking is history. Staal is a boat anchor on whomever is paired with him. Sorry guys, the truth hurts. This is the PO’s, if we want to win, you need the best out there, and Marc isn’t in that category anymore!!!!!!!!!!

        • Like most here, you are missing two points. One, Marc Staal has been a class act who has really lost part of his vision IN THE SERVICE OF THE RANGERS. That means that he – and I might add he alone of the current Rangers – deserves a certain level of respect. Does that mean you can’t criticize him – certainly not. But ridicule (such as boat anchor) is out of bounds.

          Point two: Marc Staal is very likely a useful player for the Rangers, unlike Henrik Lundqvist. Like it or not, the Rangers must dress six defensemen and, like it or not, Marc seems to be one of the six best options. He is playing ahead of Crawley (marginal AHLer at best), Hajek (don’t make me laugh) and Darren Raddysh. Raddysh is a right defenseman which is one strike against him, but I honestly don’t know how good he is (pretty decent in the AHL) and I won’t unequivocally state that he is less than Staal.

          In contrast, you need one starting goalie and one backup and Lundqvist is clearly third best and therefore of no value whatsoever. Moreover, if the starter should get knocked out, the Rangers will likely be behind and need goals – a tender who adds no offense is exactly what you don’t need, so Hank is a particularly poor choice for the backup position.


          We forget that every single one of these players is among the best in the world – every single one. Brandon Crawley is an outstanding hockey player by most standards, he just doesn’t measure up to the NHL level. Both Staal and Lundqvist are still phenomenal hockey players. But nowadays they are both in the “wish we had better” category. In one case, we do have better and in the other case we don’t.

          • Ray

            I’m not the one who called Staal “THE CORPSE “, but the truth is it’s true. Once upon a time, Marc was an outstanding d-man, but when he was concussed, and lost some vision in one of his eyes, he became a shell of the player he was. Secondly, he is immobile, slow, and can be found out of position on too many occasions.

            He is being criticized for those reasons, and he’s taking a spot away from another potential player who could be playing the game at a top level.

            Add insult to injury, his cap hit is terrible. He could have retired, being paid 100% of his salary, as a disabled player, helping the team out. Instead he’s being selfish as well. People feel he deserves all the accolades , I say he deserves nothing, he’s been well compensated for years, and didn’t earn that pay for at least the last 4 years. Call me cold, but in professional sports it’s “What have you done for me lately”, and in Marc’s case the answer is “NOTHING”. That Ray is the point of Dave’s remark, and I agree with the statement!!!!!!

          • 1. He is not taking a spot from another player. There is no other player in the organization who belongs in the lineup.

            2. And everyone is selfish to a certain extent. Lundqvist and Staal are hockey players. They want to continue to be hockey players – it is their life. And they want to win a Cup as Rangers more than you want to see the Rangers win the Cup. And they want the money they have been promised. They don’t see solving the Ranger cap issues as their problem and it isn’t.

            I can understand the reaction from kids, but I don’t understand why you can’t sympathize. I was never very athletic, but the fact that I probably would suffer lasting injury if I ran another marathon bothers me (and doesn’t keep me from dreaming). Did you happily walk away from everything when you started to slip? Surely you persisted sometimes?

            The reality is that being Lias Andersson, Kaapo Kakko, Vitaly Kravtsov, Anthony DeAngelo, Adam Fox is easy while being Marc Staal or Henrik Lundqvist or Dan Girardi is hard. Yet fans, ever anxious for the next new toy, are oh so eager to move on. They would rather watch a rookie never-will-be like Brett Howden or Libor Hajek. There is no admiration for the wily veteran with creative ways to mask diminished skills.

          • Ray

            Yes he is indeed taking a spot from another player who probably have better skills than himself. Why do I say that, simple if he weren’t here, the team would have made moves to resolve that issue.

            If he is, as claimed a team guy, he would have walked away with his head held high, taken his money from the insurance the team has covering long term injuries, and he would have been given a job with the organization for life. Rod Gilbert, Adam Graves anyone?????????

            “Did you happily walk away from everything when you started to slip? Surely you persisted sometimes?”

            No, I had the rug pulled out from under me, while I was still producing at a very high rate at age 60, being paid too much, and replaced by a younger person. After 30 years with the company, they felt the need to go on a youth movement, so I got my severances package, full retirement, and said good bye……….

            Ray, you and I disagree on this point, and all I want is to see my beloved Rangers raise the cup one more time before the devil calls my number!!!!!!!!!!! You see, I’m a realist, and time keeps marching on, why not the bad players. Too many will stick with the relics as long as they want to play, too sentimental. Hell, let’s get Mess, Richter, Graves, Gilbert back in uniform while we’re at it.

            Have a good evening my friend…………………..

          • “Tie game,” Ray … 4-4! 🙂
            Very insightful, well thought of post, by fellow Blue shirted friend.

            We got to remember…the two longest-tenured Rangers (vets) Lundqvist and Staal “know a thing or two” about playoff hockey…and though their skills have diminished, they are still valuable to have in the lineup (and more so, on the team). They know the tricks” needed to get by and by their playoff experiences in the past will contribute in some way in helping their better-skilled teammates win the game.

          • “Staal is still phenomenal hockey player”
            Can you proved more prove that he is phenomenal?

      • Maybe it’s a single site that posters have some love for Staal.

        “Marc Staal is very likely a useful player for the Rangers, unlike Henrik Lundqvist.” can you believe it that any Rangers fan can say that?

  • There was a Ranger LD who elevated his game and did pretty well in the 2017 playoff run. If Brendan Smith can do the same now the defense will be okay. It’s a big “if” but Smith was physical and quite competent during that series. I’m optimistic.

  • Relax. Any stay at home defenseman will look bad playing in front of Lundqvist. Advanced stats tell us that any puck carrying defenseman is better than any stay at home guy, i.e., they are absurd.

    And Ryan Lindgren is actually my choice for best Ranger defenseman.

  • Our defensive deficiencies can be more then balanced out by our superior goaltending. Many times in play-off hockey, the team with the hot goalie has an advantage. I believe Shesty will stand on his head and steal this series. Great goal-tending was the difference when we defeated the Canes 4 times this year. We also have the superior fire power in our first two top lies to balance out our weakness in our inexperienced young 3rd line (which has the potential to breakout and excel) and our mediocre 4th line. Carolina has more depth, for sure, but the Rangers will win this 1st round and advance! Time to rock and roll!

  • We are a tenacious team. DQ may be a bit over-matched with behind the bench skills in this series. He will need to make many in-game adjustments. Can’t wait until next game anymore. Playoff hockey is a very different animal. I hope we are ready.

    Big tryout for the new Defensive coach too.

  • Reading the last few-days articles regarding the matchup, it is pretty clear the Rangers have three more positions to address this off-season:

    1. 1 Left- dman- I feel Miller can make the jump mid-season next year, but the created rumor of Brodin from the Wild would be a great acquistion.
    2. Bottom 6 center
    3. Bottom 6 winger who is solid on the PK.

    • I think if you bring back the same team you would be correct, but if Strome, Tony D and Fast all are on the outside looking in, we may need to make some additional moves like:
      1. 2C
      2. 2 Left Defenders, 1 RD
      3. Middle 6 winger

    • 1)*** Miller making the jump next season? Sorry but that sounds like you’re drinking the MSG propaganda juice. Same filter that supplied that Chytil, Lias and Howden can make the jump as 2c, 3c and 4c as rookies and sophomores.

      2)*** Bottom 6 center okay. But what kind? Quality 3c aren’t 40+ point players. It can’t just be a pure offence 3c or else you’re running into the Strome’s and Ryan Spoon’s of the league who need PP time to be 30 point players. All you’re doing is putting more stress on Zib and his line if the 3c can’t take D deployments.

      3)** We need a center, especially 3c who can pk much more than a winger. Center with a responsible game can take/develop someone’s game like Lem to be more trustworthy on the man down.

      Should have kept Hayes and grabbed a reliable bottom 4 pair who can PK instead of Trouba. Imo JD/JG can’t waste resources and $$ now to add. Any additions we need have to go to the top 6 for multiple reasons.

      • Trust me I do not drink the MSG propaganda juice, I actually know some Hockey, not being confrontational here. If you look at how the front office is bringing the young players along, Miller if he adapts fast and shows he is ready sooner or later, he will get a call up for at least a few games. Trust me on this- The Rangers are super high on this kid.

      • couple more points- I agree 100% on your point #3, and regarding Hayes- The two sides did attempt to work out a deal, However, Hayes agent began to price out Gorton. This front office is smarter than when Sather was running the show, Signing Hayes to a 6.5 or 7 mil per would have cost the Rangers a few players they would look to lock up long term shortly.

        • I agree but we got Trouba though and I haope he will be much better than we saw, but far away for contract he got

      • one more point regarding Trouba, Jacob was on the Rangers radar since the 2018 season. When word was going around a few NHL circles, Trouba wanted out and his wife wanted to practice her occupation in NY, it gave the Rangers some leverage. Gorton was speaking to GM Kevin C for two season in regard to acquiring Trouba. I can go on about this but the fact of the matter- the Rangers front office knew they needed to rebuild the blueline with most young d-men from the system and needed a young but seasoned vet to be on the top line-specifically on the right side, Rangers knew Shattenkirk was a fragile player and were in question how long Kevin could hold up for a full 82 game season. My buddy was Kevin’s strength conditioning coach in Colorado when Kevin was drafted and he came into the league. My friend reported to the Colorado management out of the the three young first round d-men in their system top – Shattenkirk was the one he was concerned about from a ability to stay healthy in the long perspective. So, Colorado shipped Kevin out to the Blues and kept Barrie and Duncan Siemens in their system.

    • Hey Gene, how are you big Bro?
      IMO We shouldn’t do for Brodin. I prefer to use our own depth in D department instead of throwing assets for him, not worthy

  • Dave, I think that dismissing the Canes’ missing defensemen is a little too cavalier. The guys they have in their place are not as good.

    I also don’t believe that the Rangers’ D is as bad as you seem to believe. As the season went on they improved greatly and they are pretty young and quick, with the obvious exception of Marc Staal is not. I think Smith might make a surprisingly good pairing with Trouba, and I think big Jake just might be one of the keys to the series.

  • Kevin Hayes just scored a beauty off a Malkin turn over…..

    Why did we let him go and sign Trouba again?

    Coots and Hayes= everything top 6 200 ft centers. Zib and Hayes would have been a formidable 1-2 punch and a welcome added addition to Panarin, Ignor and Fox and ADA.

    • I do not understand why Trouba gets so much crap- are you jumping on the complaining bandwagon? Trouba needs a left hand partner, Smith, Staal and Hajek are not the answer. Trouba is a streaky player offensively but he is a very solid d men . Give Trouba a chance…..

  • Doesn’t inspire confidence, eh?

    Which is why the Rangers need to pound the sh-t out of the Carolina D, and cause them to cough up the puck.

    • In hits/60, the five best Rangers are DiGuiseppi, McKegg, Smith, Trouba, and Fast. (Suspended Lemieux is actually first.) The eight worst are Chityl, Panarin, Kakko, Fox, Strome, DeAngelo, Mika, and Buch.

      FWIW, there seems a strong anti correlation between appreciation here and hitting. (though the much derided Howden and Staal are oddly dead center in this area).

      • Ray all you’re post on here are on fire. Like NBA Jam type of fire (boom shaka laka la) lol.

        You put Walt in his place up there with the new toy comment. Agreed with all that except Lindgren being the new best D man.

        Rangers don’t stall the Ovi/Backstrom era (2012, 13 and 15), cream Pitts back to back (2014 and 15) without G and Staal.

        Some people don’t know what hockey plays look/feel like.

        • This from the Kevin Hayes cheerleader, are you with a limp wrist or what for the man?

          I defended my point, but your fall back is Hayes this, and Hayes that. You have got to get an erection every time you see, or say his name, fool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          No, we don’t know anything about the game, only the mental midget that you are does……………….

          • You didn’t defend squat bro. You went into full submission with that ” hey I just want to watch hockey”… The proof is right up there….

            If you want to talk about Haysey than don’t piggyback out of spite/randomness.

            My indirect message to you has been clear cut without the. All I said was how Ray put you in your place and how Staal and I added Girardi deserve more respect.

            Than I maybe hinted at how you wouldn’t know… You never played the game. Just like the war buff that you want to be, you were never in combat but yet you scream hockey and United States army every second on here. That is fraud on all accounts…

            Btw since you mentioned him.. I was obviously right about the guy. In less than a full season he has earned legend status by the Philly, fans and locker room without being pest or a elite all star… Just a little fyi.

          • Dave

            Why did you delete my response to this ass. He takes cheap shots, and I can’t respond to the jerk. Geeeeeeeeees, I called him a female anatomy, and that’s reason to delete my comments. The fool questioned my integrity, and I responded, it’s wrong on your part man!!!!!!!!!

      • Good info Raymond.

        If the Rangers want to neutralize Carolina’s big advantage on the back end, and not allow them to free wheel, to do whatever they want, then the Ranger forwards have to be in their faces, forechecking.

        • Yo Ritch I think Ray was trying to say don’t expect much whistle to whistle smash mouth hockey. Lem and Fast are our only forecheckers who take good routes to the body. The rest try to angle off the puck carrier’s when on the forecheck instead of taking a “B line” to their D men.

          With Carolina liking to set-up shop in the OZ… Rangers forwards should worry more about the counter attack with numbers. Imo there is no need to get it deep on them.

  • Don’t you mean scientist ? Jus sayin

    “It doesn’t take rocket science to know that the Rangers are far better on the right side than on the left.”

  • This series has the makings of a run and gun series…..Counter attack after counter attack…As always it will come down to the netminder….

  • our defense is better than theirs without Pesce and Hamilton in the lineup. On the right side we have Trouba Fox and ADA. as a group way better than what the Canes have. Lindgren on the left is as good as almoet anyone on their LHD. Staal is SMH but Smith played well there the last month of the season oaired with Trouba. I think we are in good shape.

    on offense . our top six is better than theirs. in fact none of their top forwards is in Mika or Bread’s class. Their bottom six generates more offense then ours but we have talent on the third line and promise that could turn to results on the fourth.

    In goal, its no contest.

    I like our chances a lot!

    Rangers in 4

    • My friend, then explain me how we were badly outshot and were sitting in own zone most of the time. If no our big guys Ziba and Panera and sure our goalie( the King) you know how the season against Canes would be ended up. We Most likely wouldn’t play in 24 teams format now IMO

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