New York’s fourth line center would cost an extra $6 million to buy out this summer
It’s growing increasingly difficult to believe that this is just an off year for Brad Richards, that the 33-year-old will bounce back with the benefit of a summer to clear his head and a full John Tortorella training camp in the fall. There are just too many signs that the former star center is on a steep decline.
And yet, despite Tortorella’s own silent admission through a fourth-line demotion that Richards has been awful, it’s still extremely unlikely the Rangers will exercise a buyout on Richards this summer.
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Well, I think we’ve witnessed the advantage of earning home ice in the playoffs, wouldn’t you say? After falling into an 0-2 hole against Washington in the first round, the Rangers dropped the first game of their Eastern Conference Semifinals matchup against the Bruins in overtime. After a lengthy feeling out period, the play opened up late in the second and into the third frame. The teams were relatively even until overtime, when the Bruins got chance after chance until Brad Marchand finally notched the game-winner at 15:40. Some positives and negatives from Game One:
- As we noted in the keys to the series, Boston was the league’s best faceoff team in the regular season for the second year in a row, but New York did a good job of keeping things relatively even in Game One. Derek Stepan had a miserable night on draws, going 5-14, but the rest of the Rangers were a combined 25-23. Not terrible, and the Rangers did get a few scoring opportunities off faceoff wins.
- Perhaps whatever issues were plaguing Rick Nash in the first round are now behind him? This was easily Nash’s best performance since Game One against Washington. The Rangers’ offensive leader set up Ryan McDonagh’s goal, drew a penalty on Zdeno Chara and generally skated much better and seemed to have a bit more mustard on his shot. We expected him to have a tough time with Chara in this series, but Nash did very well in Game One. Read more »
Rick Nash will have his hands full with Zdeno Chara
A slew of injuries to Boston blueliners have some convinced the Rangers will roll through their second round matchup, but we should know by now that nothing comes easy for New York. Still, the Blueshirts have a good shot at advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals if they follow these keys to victory.
Mitigate Boston’s advantage on faceoffs
It’s no coincidence that the team with the faceoff edge won five of seven games in New York’s first round matchup. Sure, there’s more to it than that, but winning faceoffs is one way to guarantee puck possession. For the second year in a row, Boston led the league in faceoff percentage by a wide margin, at 56.4%. First round hero Patrice Bergeron (62.1%) is far and away the best faceoff man in the league and will be a handful in this series. New York has been bipolar at the dots all year long, but the Rangers’ pivots will have to bring their “A” game to slow down Boston. Read more »
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For reasons unbeknownst to me, some members of the national media seem to be under the impression that Henrik Lundqvist has been a failure as a playoff goaltender.
I could understand that sentiment a little prior to last season, but a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2012 should have quashed any conversation about Lundqvist’s postseason struggles.
Instead, an ugly stat had been making the rounds – Lundqvist has allowed three or more goals in 29 of his 58 playoff starts – and a suspect goal off the stick of Jason Chimera in Game One brought some of Lundqvist’s old critics out of the woodwork. Read more »
Marc Staal returned last night, will Ryane Clowe follow on Wednesday? (Photo: Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports)
What, you thought this was going to be easy? The 2011-2012 Rangers came within two points of winning the President’s Trophy and still needed two seven-game series to get to the Eastern Conference Finals, so why would the 2013 version, which had to scratch and claw just to get into the postseason, have an easier time?
So far in this series, all that’s happened is that each team has held its home-ice advantage. New York must simply continue that pattern tomorrow night to even the series and there were plenty of reasons to believe that’s possible during last night’s thriller.
- The power play, which had been the greatest source of frustration through two games, directly led to two goals and generated all kinds of pressure. Conversely, the Rangers finally figured out that they need to stay out of the box against the NHL’s best power play. It’s no coincidence that the team that had the special teams advantage has won every game of this series. Read more »
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One of the oldest adages of hockey is that to win games, you must stay out of the penalty box. Nothing revolutionary there, it makes sense that you don’t want to give your opponent too many chances to outnumber you on the ice.
It will certainly ring true in Round One, when the Rangers face Washington’s #1 ranked power play, which converted at a 26.8% rate this season. The Blueshirts must continue to play disciplined hockey, but that could be tricky; Washington’s offense isn’t just a handful on the power play, the Capitals rank fourth overall in offense and possess the league’s hottest scorer, the resurgent Alex Ovechkin.
You might have heard that Ovechkin was left for dead and then came roaring back with 27 goals in his final 32 games to end up leading the league. Unsurprisingly, Ovechkin did his most damage on the power play, where he netted 16 goals, a ridiculous six more than the league’s second-most productive player, Steven Stamkos. Read more »
- After the trade deadline Derick Brassard had five goals in six assists while Marian Gaborik had three goals and five assists.
- The Rangers went 9-3-1 following the trade deadline.
- Before the trade deadline the Rangers averaged 2.4 goals per game. After it, they averaged 3.6.
- Check out this chart of where playoff teams ranked in shot differential this season. (Via @NHL_Stats) Read more »
This is not how the Rangers have successfully developed prospects in recent years
The Rangers’ recent success has made Chris Kreider a forgotten man, but the handling of Kreider has been the most disappointing aspect of the 2013 season.
You can’t blame the 21-year-old for hitting a bump in the road, but the organization’s treatment of its prized winger has been a mess since the season-opener. Kreider got off to a miserable start with the
Connecticut Whale Hartford Wolf Pack, where Kreider was asked to begin learning the Rangers’ system at the sacrifice of his offense. He posted just five goals and seven assists in 34 games and was struggling on both ends of the ice.
But Kreider was still handed a job out of training camp because the Rangers were very short on forwards and because, in case you forgot, he scored five goals right out of college for the Blueshirts in the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This raised so many eyebrows that Chad Kolarik was rumored to have requested a trade due to this decision.
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- Since the trade deadline, Derick Brassard has three goals in six assists in 10 games and Marian Gaborik has three goals and four assists in 10 games.
- The Rangers are 7-2-1 since the trade deadline. (Via @Herman_NYRBlog)
- The Rangers are 8-36 (22.2%) on the power play since the trade deadline and were converting at a 14.3% rate before it.
- Brad Richards has four goals and three assists in his last three games. Richards notched his first career hat trick in his 896th game on Friday. He’d previously had 22 two-goal games. (Via @SteveZipay)
- Richards’ burst gives him 10 goals and 20 assists in 43 games, which is a 57-point pace (19 goals, 38 assists) over an 82-game season. Read more »
Howard Simmons/New York Daily News
- This is a rare trade where I think both sides have been pleasantly surprised with what they ended up with. Columbus fans seem giddy with what Marian Gaborik has done so far and almost in disbelief that the Rangers didn’t know what they had in him, along with Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky. On the flip side, few Rangers fans knew much of anything about any of Derick Brassard, Derek Dorsett and John Moore, but Brassard has already shown flashes that suggest he could single-handedly make up for a lot of Gaborik’s production, Dorsett sounds like he’ll be a perfect Blueshirt soldier whenever he takes the ice, and watching Moore skate has made it hard not to think of what Ryan McDonagh’s greatest quality does for him. It seems pretty clear that both teams came out of the deal better than they were before.
- Blue Jackets beat writer Aaron Portzline raised eyebrows when he wrote that Dorsett might have been the toughest player for Columbus to part with. It sounds a little surprising given the obvious skills of Brassard and the potential of Moore, but neither of those players had established themselves as go-to players for the Blue Jackets yet. Dorsett was an alternate captain with a decorated history of standing up for teammates, playing his heart out and doing generally everything that coach John Tortorella loves. Will he be the next Brandon Prust in New York? The comparison certainly seems to make sense. Read more »