Brassard has a great chance to re-establish himself with the Rangers
With every additional pass like the perfect defense splitter that set up Dan Girardi’s huge goal against the Islanders, Derick Brassard is positioning himself to be the Rangers second option at center beyond this season. The ramifications from each additional impressive Brassard display from here on in are huge. His form makes Brad Richards that much more of a luxury, makes Richards’ future that much more tenuous and it makes the Rangers summer that much more of a decision filled affair.
While in Columbus, Brassard flashed glimpses of skill but with careful analysis it was actually more than that. Like Rick Nash, Brassard was surrounded for the most part by subpar talent, with defensive coaches and yet was still able to put together some productive campaigns. His problems in Columbus were his ability to stay healthy and the expectations that go with being a top ten draft pick. If Brassard can stay healthy the ‘Marian Gaborik trade’ could be a rare hockey trade that becomes a win-win.
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Although he has been criticized –especially early in the season– and he is without a shutout (yet), could Henrik Lundqvist quietly have moved into the Vezina candidates once again, this season?
With Craig Anderson and his other worldly numbers surely out of contention because a lack of games (16 games is surely not enough to warrant consideration), Lundqvist has a few key differences to most of his Vezina competition this year. For the most part he’s suffered from a lack of goal support, while he has also had to battle to keep his team in the playoff mix.
Of goaltenders that have started 25 games or more, only Tuukka Rask has a better GAA than The King, while Lundqvist boasts the league’s best save percentage (again, discounting Anderson’s 16 game assault on the statistics). Then there’s the good old fashioned win column. The King has 17 wins which given his lack of goal support (The Rangers sit 26th overall in goal scored) is impressive, and places Lundqvist 6th overall. With guys such as Marc-Andre Fleury and Carey Price playing on clubs having more successful seasons than the Rangers, it’s hard not to respect the numbers the Rangers goalie has quietly assembled. However, how much will the lack of shutouts hurt his case for Vezina nomination?
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Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News
Up front, the Rangers will have a lot of moving parts this summer beyond their top six. With Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan certainties to be retained (a question of how much rather than if) and the club focused on developing the young players such as Chris Kreider and JT Miller, there’s not a lot of space on the roster. With the club committed, at least financially, to Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett, Brian Boyle, Arron Asham, and Taylor Pyatt there’s maybe no space for the likes of Mats Zuccarello, no matter how he plays this year out.
The natural assumption is that the Rangers will trade guys to make room for others. But the problem with this assumption is that the cap is coming down to $64.3 million, and assuming the Rangers can move a now expendable guy such as Taylor Pyatt (and his $1.55 million cap hit) is a dangerous assumption. There’s also no guarantees the club can move a Boyle or a Pyatt should they choose to. Now, do the math. That’s ten players listed without considering Ryane Clowe, Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Brad Richards and Darroll Powe. That’s also not considering any players from the Whale, CHL, Europe, NCAA, or free agency. Log Jam folks.
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Photo by Avi Gerver, ©Madison Square Garden, L.P.
The Rangers took three of four points from the apparently almighty Penguins this week. Both games, off the back of roster re-shaping trade deadline deals, showed us a lot about how the Rangers should look for the remainder of the season.
The 2-1 shootout defeat Friday night in Pittsburgh might see some fans be disheartened about a club that scored just one goal (again), but what is a somewhat valid concern is outweighed by several positives. Let’s take a look at why the Rangers still have a chance this season;
The new guys: the new additions – led by Ryane Clowe – have brought depth, skill, but above all have made the Rangers harder to play against. Perhaps most importantly where players such as Marian Gaborik weren’t entirely trusted by Tortorella anymore, you saw the likes of Derick Brassard on the ice toward the end of the game as the Rangers chased hard. Brassard came close from a bad angle that needed a review. The fact Tortorella is rolling lines more evenly – evidence of the additional depth –suggests the Rangers have depth to make a push.
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Ryan Clowe had THE perfect impact.
It’s hard to call the Rangers 6-1 demolition of the Penguins last night anything other than an incredible first impact from the new guys. Wherever you looked, players were making a difference and it’s intriguing the momentum and impetus incoming players give the current roster. On to the musings; dedicated to the trade deadline
You just know the TSN crew were nervous given the lack of activity (to put it politely) going into the final few hours.
Ryane Clowe: I liked Brandon Prust; he overachieved, always gave his all and was perhaps the ultimate team player. There’s a reason however that everyone acknowledged the Canadiens overpaid to get him. He has a ceiling. Then there’s Clowe. Yes he had a poor start to the year but he’s potentially so much more for the Rangers than Prust could ever be. It’s foolish to compare them. Prust was the perfect bottom six player. Clowe can be a legitimate scorer, fighter, physical presence and thinly veiled threat. Whether he does it consistently, only time will tell but if he plays to his old level in SJ the draft picks were well worth it.
The Rangers got a lot younger this week. Wasn’t sure that was entirely possible.
I’m not embarrassed I said – just yesterday – that the Rangers would be better off holding onto Gaborik until the summer. I didn’t think Sather could get an elite (still young) defensive prospect that the Rangers were desperate for, a young 50-70 point potential skill center and another gritty forward at the deadline. He outdid himself. Ridding cap space was the cherry on top. Gaborik will be missed, and may come back to score against the Rangers but the Rangers added a huge dollop of depth, potential and grit in their deals this past few days.
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Gaborik may not get moved this week, or at all. His future up in the air
Regardless of how productive (or unproductive) Marian Gaborik is throughout the remainder of this season, the Rangers would be best advised to hold on to the Slovakian winger until the off season.
With a glut of young forwards up and around the big club this season, and with the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins comfortably ahead of the Rangers for this year’s race to the Cup, the Rangers hopes of playoff success this season rest with Henrik Lundqvist and a lot of luck. In short, the Rangers aren’t likely a real threat to the dominant two of the East, right now. Therefore, this season – without giving up on it (something no Ranger should advocate) – has become in part a trial of sorts for the younger players. All of which brings us back to Marian Gaborik.
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And here he comes.
The Rangers have added Ryane Clowe. The now former San Jose Shark comes to the Rangers after he agreed to waive his no trade clause, per several media sources on twitter. Clowe will cost the Rangers a 2013 second round pick, a 2013 third round pick (original Florida’s pick, traded to the Rangers for Wojtek Wolski) and also a conditional 2014 second that is dependent on him agreeing an extension with the Rangers or the team winning two playoff series this season. That pick becomes a 2014 5th round pick if the conditions are not met.
There’s a couple ways to look at this; first of all there’s the fact Clowe hasn’t scored a goal this season and has health issues. On top of this he’s had periods where he has taken lazy penalties and if he gives the puck away as he did in San Jose this season he could be in Tortorella’s dog house quickly. On the other hand Clowe address numerous Rangers needs. He hits, he plays an all round physical game, brings size and snarl and is willing to dirty work as well as drive to the net; all things the Rangers lacked this season.
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Will Sather make deadline deals?
As the Rangers bask in the glow of an impressive win over the Flyers on Tuesday and prepare for tonight’s game against the Senators, it all comes back to Ryan Callahan’s comment a few weeks back; ‘We have to back it up’. The Rangers need two points tonight just as much as they did on Tuesday. On to the musings
Derek Stepan. It is only fitting that this week’s musings begins with Stepan. He was immense on Tuesday, beyond ‘just’ the points. His back checking to break up plays, his stick work and positional sense were all great examples of his sky high hockey IQ and growing confidence. When a player is on top form he always seems to find a way to be on or around the puck. Stepan’s shown great development this year. Especially after his so-so start to the season
As a loyal commenter pointed out yesterday, Rick Nash would be on course for 82 points in a full season. However, where I disagree is that’s his ceiling. If Stepan’s development curve continues and Nash has a training camp under his legs I think he has 100 point potential as a Ranger. His skill set is definitely 100 point calibre.
Statistical quirk: The Rangers sit 4th in the league in goals against per game (all the more impressive given the injuries on D and the overall team record) yet despite that lofty ranking they don’t have a shutout this season, yet.
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Could Zuccarello’s arrival mean the end for Gaborik?
There’s a strong chance that after such an impressive performance against the Flyers (no matter how unimpressive the Flyers have been this year) that John Tortorella will stick with the line-up that pulled out the victory, and certainly the 5-2 win perhaps affords the coaching staff time with re-acquainting themselves with Mats Zuccarello. That said, when Zuccarello does eventually re-enter the line-up – and he will, why else bring him back? – his play will have a significant impact on the future of Marian Gaborik.
The Rangers have a young roster and enough moving parts that cap space isn’t a huge concern at the moment, even if it does need monitoring for next year. However, moving Gaborik or buying out Richards gives the Rangers much more maneuverability going forward. Therefore, a successful return by Zuccarello and/or an immediate impact by the also incoming Jesper Fast make Gaborik a luxury.
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If it wasn’t for two fortunate goals by the Flyers this game, on paper, would look like it did on the ice; a comprehensive victory for the Rangers. Led by the dominant top line the Rangers scored a few impressive goals and got solid performances all over the line up. Brad Richards had his best game in weeks, Lundqvist was solid, Kreider was energetic and dangerous all while Rick Nash and Derek Stepan manhandled the Flyers defense. Stepan in particular seems to grow with every additional game. On to the goal breakdown
Rangers 1-0; Rick Nash (14:54)
The Rangers opened the scoring with a Derek Stepan clinic. First of all, the Rangers center created a turnover behind the Flyers net with some great stick work (doing the basics right, stick on the ice) and eventually sent the puck up to the point where Girardi sent a shot glancing off the post. The puck came back to the Rangers and eventually to Stepan who, positioned to the right of Bryzgalov, sent a crisp pass over to Rick Nash who was moving toward goal and Nash put it top right on the Flyers goalie for the lead. A solid goal, forced by the Rangers desire to retrieve pucks.
Rangers 2-0; Brad Richards PP goal (3:14)
The Rangers got a big second goal early in the middle period as they connected on the powerplay. After initially struggling to get into and set up in the Flyers zone the Rangers finally did and moved the puck around at the blue line when it finally comes to Richards to the left of Bryzgalov, up high. Using defenseman Andrej Meszaros as a screen Richards absolutely rifled one up high past the Flyers goalie. A great shot from Richards to double the lead.
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