Analysis

NY Rangers Trends: A Lacking Finish

As I sit here watching round one of the playoffs and think of the developments related to the New York Rangers in the last two weeks I can only admit that this piece is mostly ceremonial. For those of you who have read my sporadic blogs or happen to follow me on Twitter, part of the pride I take in finding trends related to the Rangers is the timing involved – aka seeing or saying something before most others do not. This post, let’s look at how lacking finish impacted the Rangers trends throughout the season.

Hot shooting but slipping play

When I last checked in on 3/27, the Rangers were in the midst of a 3 to 4 week regression of their shot percentage that, coupled with their somewhat above-average play, led them to a 19 point month with a 9-6-1 record. April ended up being a better month for their record, but the Rangers playoff chances was all smoke and mirrors. Most public models had their playoff probability peaking towards the end of March at around 20 percent, and while NYR kept winning due to hot shooting or timely goaltending, their actual play in terms of controlling the game (shots & scoring chances) began to slip.

Before we take a look at who stood out, player wise, I just want to state how puzzling it was to me for Quinn & Co. (the & co. being anyone who may have discussed the lineup with Quinn – assistants and management) to lock into a lineup that was clearly benefitting from some hot shooting. Throughout April the Rangers looked flat and uninspired, and yet instead of experimenting with other lineup options available (namely, balancing the forward lines with youth and mixing up the Top 4 Defense) the staff decided to stick with essentially the same lineup they found around Game 25.

This, unfortunately, was the third season in a row where only injuries led to somewhat significant lineup changes leading into a game. I believe this is/was a major weakness of Quinn as an NHL coach, who in theory had the final say on the lineup card, and I hope whoever is chosen to replace him does not strictly adhere to the “well, we won last game, so no changes” logic.

Goaltending trends

We’ll keep it very direct for the goaltending: Igor Shesterkin had another good year at even strength and should be the established starter come October. Georgiev had a better end to the year and is a somewhat capable backup. This split that he somehow continues to accomplish where he does really well on the PK but not at even strength is a bit astounding, to be honest (it’s the fourth straight year of it).

Forward trends

The Game Control charts for the Forwards and the Defense are sorted by the gap in their last 23 GP (since 3/28) and their season total number (largest positive gap on the left, to the lowest on the right). A few things jump out at me for the forwards. First, the overall play dropped off for almost everyone (which goes right back to NYR being flat during most of April). Second, despite the constant usage of Blackwell as a winger to Strome (even with the intermittent replacement of Kravtsov), the pair simply could not make it work even with Panarin on their left.

Also, it should be encouraging that as the month of April went on, Kreider saw less TOI while slightly improving his metrics. This is a positive to me because his place on a contending NYR team moving forward is likely in the middle six – and very possibly on the third line. Depth is king.

Oh – I guess I’m obligated to say that Howden was better towards the end of the season. But when the bar is on the floor and you still can’t break the 100 average, it’s not really a success story.

Defense trends

We’ll start with the positive on defense, which should be obvious on the chart, in that Jacob Trouba was getting very good results before his season-ending injury. While he is a popular name to throw around as a way to move a contract and remain very cap-flexible, I’d just overall be surprised if it happens. He returned to a level of overall effectiveness that matched his early Winnipeg years this past season, so hopefully the Rangers can wise up and pair him with Lindgren (which will allow Trouba to freely generate offense – his historical strength).

As for the rest, I think it can be simply summed up with two points. First: Lindgren-Fox stopped getting dominant results and were well below average for the first time in their careers. This should’ve been all the coaching staff needed to mix up the Top 4 Defense, but here we are. The last point brings us to Libor Hajek, who was once again one of the worst defensemen in the league. The talk of the offseason will be NYR going after Eichel or some other big 1C fish, but in reality they also need to remove the known bad of Hajek & Howden, as this will likely net them 3-4 points in the standings (at least) if they’re replaced with average NHL players.

Final team trends

Despite all my complaining about the inability for Quinn & Co. to find the right lineup I do think this season should be considered a mild success. While Jacques Martin was not kept on by Chris Drury, I think the biggest takeaway for this young team was their ability to grade out as an average defensive team in terms of expected goals against. As you can see in the chart above, it was a massive year-over-year improvement and was one of the best NYR teams since the shot-location era started for that metric.

Overall, NYR is still in a good spot. I firmly believe that the next coach will benefit from balancing both the forwards and the defense into better working complements. This starts with pairing Lindgren with Trouba and either Miller or another option with Fox. With that balance, forward lines can be found that can likely lead to younger players seeing more TOI while proven veterans like Kreider can slide down the depth chart and, hopefully, feast on the opposition’s lesser players. Who knows, maybe it’ll even lead to the Rangers being “tough to play against” … otherwise known as being a good team that wins.

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  • Mild success? I think not.
    As far as the “addition by subtraction” Hajek and Howden replaced by average players, I agree.

    As hot as the team was during April, they still did not show great scoring depth. This has to change. And it isn’t just a 3rd line thing, as the 4th line needs to do more than get 9 minutes a game. They, the 4th line, needs to crank up the hits, draw some penalties and yes, even score some goals.

    Many of the graphs show that the NYR matchups need to change against better teams that shut down our top 2 lines and expose the defense. Speaks to another high-quality defenseman and a strong player who goes into the dirty areas.

  • Love the idea of bolting Kreider to the 3rd line. Nothing against him, but that will be where he belongs for the reasons Rob noted. Big guy, getting older and benefits from less time and lesser comp. Lead from below, man. A good soldier.

    Also, Fox/Miller and Trouba/Lindy is interesting. I like the mix, projecting Miller’s growth next year. Eliminate Hajek and add Lundy, Jones and Robertson on call (Hartford), bring back Smith and the D is solid, player-wise anyway.

    Got to end the Hajek and Howden experiments and move on. Get rid of the last vestiges of the stink from that brutal trade. Sign/trade for a couple grit/glue guys while not giving up anything more than the Goat or maybe (and I say it with reservations) a D like Robertson, Jones or even Lundy, depending on the haul you bring back.

    No Eichel unless they can steal him. No trading Kakko or Laffy under any circumstance. Okay Drury, stitch this Frankenstein into something that will contend for the cup next year as most of this year’s suspects get one more year older.

      • The reason I said nothing on Jones is twofold:

        1) He’s seen 10 GP so far. Need more time. Remember, we thought Hajek was something to consider after 5.
        2) In those 10, he mostly split his time with Lindgren and Hajek. His results with Lindgren were about average but his results with Hajek were brutal.

        Just need to see more and, ideally, without Hajek.

      • Who was he paired with…and look at the games he played in? Trouba, Lindgren were out…Hayak, Bitetto,Reaunen were in. He was forced to play more minutes than he should have been..at a time when the team was reeling. I don’t think you can take too much from that, IMO.

    • “Love the idea of bolting Kreider to the 3rd line. Nothing against him, but that will be where he belongs for the reasons Rob noted. Big guy, getting older and benefits from less time and lesser comp. Lead from below, man. A good soldier”

      What is with all this “lead” talk and CK? That combo does not go hand to hand. How many times has he been passed up as a captain? CK will be on the 3rd line but not for long. He will be gone by 2023 or 2024 when his clause opens up.

      No need to keep him longer in a reduce role when he can’t even gain captaincy. He isn’t viewed like that soo…

      • What’s with all this talk about Kevin Hayes being in Philadelphia? I thought you guaranteed he’d be a Ranger instead of Zibanejad and Kreider?

  • It was fun year to see the kids progress this year. It did not help with all of the injuries this they had. Including the covid issues. The Ranger next coach has to have nhl experience and teach these young players that at this level you cannot take nights off. Especially with the injuries this team faced this year. They have to have a next man up mentality. In order to be a champion. You have to work like one. On and off the ice.
    I thing we are going to see some big trades this year for the Rangers. They have to stir the pot and build some depth at center. That should light a fire under there asses for next year!

    • Hopefully not too many trades where they deplete all the young, upcoming and promising talent that we have (more than any other team in the League). A couple “tweaks” is alright, but not overpaying (for someone like Eichel, whom I do NOT want on this team –too risky).

      • … adding … Yes, as you say: a center and a big, hard-nosed veteran (with skill) to play as a deterrent on the ice.

  • This team also needs another offensive minded defenseman. Tony D without the issues/attitude. A player like that opens the ice for others.

    Kreider on the 3rd line as well as 2nd PP unit would be good.
    Let our 3rd & 4th lines kill all penalties.

    I feel the NHL experience for Kraftsov and Zac Jones will make them come into camp more prepared for the NHL game. Morgan Barron should be the 4th line center unless Chytil gets moved.

    • I would argue they don’t need another offensive defenseman. They have plenty in the system in Jones and Lundy. I believe that Miller will evolve into one as well. He has a great shot. I’d rather they get a stay at home bruiser Dman for a year or two, and groom Robertson. Under the right coach and system I think they’re good on offensive defensemen.

  • I think the team needs tinkering around the edges. Like an edgy fourth line. One that can check, and has a couple of guys ready, willing and able to drop the gloves if it becomes necessary. Like edgy play from their young forwards. Any coach worth his salary would do like Torts and demand that his forwards play a 200 foot game, battle for the puck, finish their checks and get to the net. It is basic, winning hockey. So if you have a fourth line that can hit and brawl if need be, then you get your kids schooled in how to win. They have all the skill and size they need. Even their 2C Strome is adequate and they don’t really need to go center fishing if the rest of the team is playing right.

    Lose Howden and Hajek, beef up the fourth line, maybe Robertson or another kid like Schneider might come along on D, and get a coach who will coach his players into playing playoff style hockey every game. With their skill they can win it all if they just add some attitude and a couple of bangers on their bottom line. I am optimistic–so long as a certain cigar aficionado isn’t given too much say!

  • After watching 3 PO match ups( ny/Pitt, tb/fla, bos/wash), I think there will be more changes than people think. Goals are scored through hard work and grit. If you are afraid to take the body at all times, you get no goals. Greasy goals prevail. None of the teams gives up the blue line so there are very few clean entries. The worst teams with little cap space are TB,NYI,Wash, andSJ. Targeting Blake Coleman.or Casey Cizekas(Danault) seems a no brainer. On D I see another big body. I feel that either Strome or Chytl are traded for assets that will make us tougher to play against. We certainly will have enough talent to make the playoffs,but a drive for the cup needs toughness.Hopefully the next coach will instill that( like Las Vegas in its inaugural season).

    • That’s the thing Steve, you have it right: a coach can instill that toughness in many ways. While they do need a couple of fourth liner types who like to hit and can drop the gloves if they have to, their overarching need is for those talented kids to do the hard work too. I believe that hard work along the boards and finishing checks and going to the dirty areas are teachable, and can and should be instilled.

      A couple of role players on the 4th line, and getting the rest of the team to buy into playing hard. Kreider shouldn’t be the only forward who will go to the net and create deflections and screens. The others can learn to do it, and should be required to do it. Maybe Gallant is the guy. I hope so.

  • you can’t play with balls unless you have them or you have to play with guys that have enough balls for two guys….

    Gorton, for 6 years ignored that aspect of the game…even this year, when they went for grit, he still passed up on a few guys in the 3rd round for some skinny swede who needs 4-5 years to develop.

    Clark should have been fired as well but Clark is Sather’s boy…so, that wasn’t happening. The league has changed…you have to be able to skate…but you also have to be able to play with an edge and Clark has targeted the good skaters and ignored the grit guys…he went for it once with Mcilrath and it failed miserably and he abandoned snarl since.

    I watch the playoffs every year and I look to see what the Rangers are lacking. I love the youth on this team…but those kids need to be nurtured and they have to be taught every aspect of the game…how to hit, how to take a hit, are two important functions that I think all young Ranger players lack, outside of Laffy. In Europe, they give you time to razzle dazzle, in the States, you get Tom Wilson. Drury has to enforce the need for that type of grit going forward, in the draft room, on the trade boards, in UFA.

    • JT Miller and the Vancouver Canucks did not make the playoffs. They are finishing the regular season late due to the severity of the team’s covid outbreak.

      You didn’t watch game 1 of their playoffs, you watched the 54th game of their regular season. LOL.

      • Sorry, i was on a boat fishing, not in my moms basement…

        Missed that one…you got me Perk, you and Tanto can share a bowl of ice cream and discuss your love affair for Chytil.

        • I saw your boy Brendon Dillon get burned for the tying goal in the Boston-Washington game with 3 mins left in the 3rd period. How bout that, his toughness couldn’t keep Boston from tying then winning the game.

          Maybe you can learn how to read a boxscore before talking smack next time. But I doubt it.

      • Whats my agenda, guy had 44 points in 51 games, is 6’1 220 pounds, no need for guys like that…but you were probably fist pumping the mirror when the trade went down because we got Hajak

        • Hey, you got a simple fact horribly wrong. I mean if you paid ANY attention to what was going on around the league you would have known that not only had the Canucks not finished their season, but they were also way off from making the playoffs. Shameful.

          • And he tries to troll both you and me at the same time, Tanto. What an epic, flaming self-own.

  • You can’t just replace Howden and Hajek with average players. The idea that NHL teams can have 18 skaters all of whom are at least average may be possible in Lake Wobegon, but not in the real world.

    And it is pure insanity to beat up on Hajek. Quinn did not want to play him and presumably neither will the new coach. With the DeAngelo situation and injuries, the Rangers were in a desperate situation. With narrow-minded thinking, Raddysh was never given a shot and with Gorton’s determination to make no effort to make the playoffs, the Rangers did not try to find a replacement from another team or free agency during the season. Quinn was left with little choice.

    Ironic that Gorton worked so hard to keep fans believing that the playoffs were not a target that he convinced ownership that he was the wrong man for the job.

    *************

    Finally, analyzing defensive pairs. Fancy stats paint the same picture year after year. Those who play against the toughest competition have disappointing results. Two years ago, Staal-Pionk were awful; last year Trouba-Skjei struggled; now this year Lindgren-Fox weren’t as good as we expected. Hmm, must be that the reason guys like Ovechkin and Crosby score so much is that they always get to face the weakest defenders.

    • I don’t agree with much of what you post, but I strongly agree with you about how the Corsi system sells defensemen short. And I don’t like expected goals at all, it’s a stat based on events that don’t always occur. I’m a big proponent of actual events being the foundation of any statistical system. Hockey isn’t quantum mechanics.

      Conversely, plus-minus stats are equally distorted. A great dman on a bad team inevitably puts up poor plus-minus rates, while guys like Marek Malik have big positives in their plus-minus at times, despite being terrible at hockey.

      • All hockey stats suffer from the fact that there are always eleven other guys on the ice and the quality of those guys matters.

        Otherwise, I think the problems with plus-minus are quite different than those with Corsi. +/- suffers badly from sample size; there are just so few events (goals). Corsi does much better here. +/- also has a few bugs, counting empty net goals and shorties. The problem with Corsi is as you said. It counts things that don’t really matter.

        I analyzed the goals scored by team for one season’s stats. Of course, goals equals shots times shooting percentage. IIRC, 30% of the difference between teams was explained by number of shots and 70% by shooting percentage.

        *****************

        It used to be that veteran defensemen were prized more and it was thought most really weren’t very good until they were at lest in their mid 20s and guys in their 30s were not cast aside so quickly. And playing defense is complicated and it is hard to figure out who is good and who isn’t.

        Anyway, Marek Malik, from about age 27 to 32, played four years in the NHL (lost one to lockout but he played overseas). He was a cumulative +118 and at least on the Rangers played against the toughest opponents. He didn’t look particularly good, but I suspect he actually was. But his prime wasn’t terribly long.

  • I guess I can see why you are perplexed by Georgiev, but you shouldn’t be. Penalty killing is different from 5 on 5. Some players are better on the PK relative to others and it is inconceivable that the same would not be true of goalies. With limited data, it may take longer to figure out who the best PK goalies are but that doesn’t mean there aren’t PK stars in goal. And there does not seem to be an eye test but no one seems to think about what makes a great PK goalie.

  • Good analysis.

    I’m afraid if Flip is traded that will bite them. He’s got so much going for him, should he put it together… Wait till he’s Buch’s age before dumping him. If they do, I hope they get value back.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Schneider might not be ready at some point next season.

    • Agree on Chytil. Look at a guy like Eriksson Ek on Minnesota, it took him until his fourth season to put offensive numbers up. Center is a difficult position, it takes some seasoning. Chytil will eventually be a 60 point plus player, especially if he ever gets a crack at top 6 minutes.

  • Thanks for the data proving they collapsed against the playoff bound teams at the end. Watching the games so far, you have to admit, the Rangers play like boys—not men. I can attribute that to the draft picks, but the top 6 folded when faced with toughness. I guess part of the reason was because they had QUIT ON QUINN! But still, they did LOSE 3 AGAINST THE CANES LAST YEAR. Possibly, the whole team are really 2nd line players. They are definitely TOO SOFT ALL THROUGHOUT THE LINEUP. And the ones that play tough are too brittle. What it takes, besides maturity of the draft picks is up in the air. I hope they don’t chance Eichel. They chance Trouba among others, and that has not planned out as predicted. He is not a QB of the power play, and he is too soft to play stopped much needed.

  • You are setting the bar for this team, but I can’t decipher if that bar is low or high compared to the league.

    How about a comparison for goalies that are not on the team vs. just our team?

    I mean Shesterkin has a .845% save percentage in short handed situations. That ranks him 35th out of 47 possible goalies with min. of 20 games played this season. That is not exactly elite. He had a .926% at even strength which ranked him 8th which is elite. And he didn’t allow a short handed goal on 24 attempts.

    I mean Grubauer had a .910% save percentage while also facing 40 more attempts on goal short handed. While it led the league …it paints a much clearer picture to these stats. Throw in the worst which was Carter Hart at a measly .783% short handed. This is the part that you guys don’t get. Putting up stats that show only 1 picture doesn’t help those of us who don’t see the same picture as you. You need to show league average at least. League average is .863% out of 47 goalies who meet a requirement you set. My case is 20 games played. Which Georgiev didn’t even qualify for.

    So Shesterkin is 20% below the league average. While playing on a team that largely had one of the better pk’s in the league for large parts of the season. And faded off as the season went along. Show me the league average for the last 5 years. That is a trend I would be willing to see.

  • #1. Martin proves that coaches do matter. The Rangers were markedly better this year, defensively, than the last couple of years.

    #2. Shooting %? Ok, that’s because, as the season moves along, the goals that were scored from the outside earlier in the year, do not get scored when teams tighten up for the playoff run. And, as I pointed out during the season, the run of goals were scored against Buffalo, NJ, and Philly, save for one game against the Pens, when the Pens’ goalie could not stop a beach ball that night.

    #3. Trouba is a 2nd pair D man, with a #1D man’s contract. If he were at $6M, then we would all feel better about him.

    #4. Lafren-Zib-Buch
    Panarin-Chytil-Kakko
    Kreider-Strome-Krav

    It’s about time Kreider heads to the 3rd line.

    #5. Toughen up the 4th line and 3rd pairing, along with the new coach, I think they are a legit playoff team. No need for Eichel.

    • Agreed except for Trouba. He is the physical presence and he is still pretty young. Adam Fox is amazing with a genius hockey I.Q., but he will never be the physical guy. And you need physical guys. So we can split the difference and say $7 mil! 🙂

      • LOL, only for you my friend.

        But $8M per, you better play both ends of the ice and score 50ish pts in an 82 game season.

        • Haha, thanks Tony! I think he has been somewhat hampered by his partners so far. If paired with Lindgren that would be ideal, or, as Miller gets better Trouba will too.

    • “It’s about time Kreider heads to the 3rd line.”
      ^ It’s not about it being Kreider going to the 3rd line lol. Quinn has been benching him and playing him there since day 1. It’s just time, due to the arrival of Laffy and Panarin isn’t obviously isn’t dropping down. There is a reason why he can’t gain captaincy….

      “Panarin-Chytil-Kakko”

      Speculation of certain guys not wanting to play with other’s was something Brooks brought up last summer. It was later recorded by Quinn during a post game about it. He basically said the same thing after someone alluded about not wanting to play with certain individuals. Add in all the hype that Panarin did about his relationship on and off the ice with Strome and their chemistry during 5v5… Chytil is not good for Panarin’s game!…

      I don’t think it’s wise to make your number one winger mad over someone like that. I also don’t blame him or Kakko for wanting to get away from Chytil lol. Laffy certainly made it known that his time on that line was miserable and how Zib can give him better options.

      • Why isn’t Chytil’s game good for Panarin? Panarin drives the line no matter who plays with him.

    • Absolutely no need for Eichel and the Rangers do need to see if Chytil is ready to be a 1b center. There is no way they can fit Strome and Mika under the salary cap at the end of next season.

      • It depends (keeping Zib and Strome together, at the same time). If Zib “accepts” a 5 year, $8-9M per contract, then maybe Strome gets $6M per.

        But the real question is, “should” the Rangers keep them both? I personally think that Strome needs to go in trade, and Chytil elevated to 2C.

  • The lines need to be better balanced and the 4th line needs a total overhaul — they have to be BIG, fast and tough, they have to be able to drop the gloves if necessary … at least one of them has to be a true heavyweight. Back on D you need to pick up one tough vet, again preferably a heavyweight. Now take all you’ve added and mix the lines up a bit on occasion — a good coach knows when that is necessary, yes you might need to move one of those guys up a line or two given the type of game being played.

    We should stay away from any DRASTIC moves — unless you’re getting a Matthew Tkachuk type … that you could consider, if the price is right. PATIENCE is the right strategy here, waiting on guys like Scneider, Robertson … as well as waiting for BIG guys like Laffy, Kakko, Miller, etc. to develop a more physically assertive game. It may not come for all of them, but don’t be surprised when you see them kick it up a notch or two … but patience needs (and needed to be) balanced with some hardworking exemplars of toughness, that’s what Drury has to introduce.

  • Now at the draft you have to look to see if you can trade Kreider and Trouba to free up room for more kids. Kreider is NOT a power forward. Moving Trouba in a package could get you a power forward and free up room for some big kids

  • Love this kind of content. And I actually love the idea of hockey being like quantum mechanics – so much luck in this game, it’s so critical to understand what should statistically be happening so that we can focus on how the team is generating opportunities that should work, rather than focusing on whether the puck is going in all the time. Of course, there’s a balance, because you do need to finish.

    Anyway, Rob, nice piece and analysis. Only suggestion for next time is either a short sentence or two on what Game Control is, or a link to a primer somewhere. I know, we can Google it, but still would be useful to know how you are seeing it.

    Thanks!

  • Our bluest blue chip elcs must not be made available; we only have enuf for internal needs, not a surplus. Deal vets get ahead of sal cap curve, 1 stop shopping w/SEA, package deal, a 1st [2022-, 23, 24] or each of Buch, Strome + Zib, plus others (Geo +) for additional lesser picks. What remains:
    Kakko-Krav as C – Panarin
    LaF – Chytil – Gauthier [exact correct fit here/out from under Q doghouse]
    Kreider – ufa Danault [only 1-2 yrs at 7.25per] – Jones*
    Cuylie – Barron – Blackwell/Gettinger

    D: Lindgren-Fox, KAM-Trouba, Robertson-Nils L
    acquire cheaply big lefty shot LD/RD Zadarov from CHI for depth/tufness.
    Schneider cup o coffee only, no burning elc, hope he replaces Trouba following season.

    * Jones: also reserve D, but use shooting/offense as 3RW

    Shesty in goal

  • This team needs a true big tough talented shutdown defenseman! It kills me to always see first line of any d-man’s evaluation is his scoring numbers. For goodness sake, defensemen must first play DEFENSE… or at least a few of the team’s D-men must be able to shut down chances against and mitigate opponents’ top scorers. I understand “all-in” d-men plays etc. but one or 2 MUST be shut down players. Balance on a team in lines and defense assuming u have top scorers on top 2 lines at least and one or 2 scoring defensemen as well is a good balanced team. We certainly have that, but we need better balance and more toughness for sure too. That also MUST include a 4th line like the Isles or others have as a must-have too.
    Hitting, toughness, and ability to police and protect is as important as all other assets at certain times and have to be part of a well-balanced winning team. I hope Drury agrees and starts rebuilding with a few changes that will make a huge difference.
    Luckily, Gorton made some valuable additions these last few years (a few bad moves too like trading away Lemieux! OMG that had to have been the worst wrong move I’ve seen in a long time… letting go exactly the type of player we need) and we DO have a number of good young players so a few changes may be all that is needed now, but still desperately needed. Howden, Hayak and Chytil all should be goners in my opinion. None are skilled enough to allow their soft play. Kreider should be on 3rd line (or traded if possible). Not sure about who but a 1a centerman is sorely needed, but not at the expense of losing Zibanajad or the wrong kids. Big, tough, young like Braden Schneider, Will Cuyle, et. all. must not be included in any deals but rather promoted to bdwy. This can be done… we’re talking about perhaps 4 or 5 different players that can make a world of difference. LGR’s!

  • We also have to start taking the body much more and finishing our checks and not peeling off or stick checking only almost all the time. And it has to be MOST of the players not only one or two or merely sometimes. We have to play harder, and realize that hitting DOES make a positive difference and often leads to turnovers and opponents not feeling comfortable enough to hold the puck and make better unforced passes. And look at how we are too often smashed against the back boards! That really makes a difference, especially when we lose guys like Lindgren and Trouba ate. THEN< no retaliation at ll from us when we don't have any players (other than the ones targeted and forced out of action, or Smith who can't fo it alone! They DID make one move about this, but exactly the wrong direction by trading away Lemieux! OMG!

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