Last night the Flames traded once promising offensive d-man, Jay Bouwmeester, to St. Louis for a first round pick, as well as AHLer Mark Cundari and Swiss goalie Reto Berra. Just this past week the Flames traded Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a first round pick and college prospects Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski. Pittsburgh also acquired Douglas Murray from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for their second round draft pick in the 2013 NHL Draft and a conditional 2014 draft choice.
The Buffalo Sabres were also active trading stay-at-home d-man Robyn Regehr to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for two 2nd round draft picks. Earlier, they moved Jordan Leopold for a second-round pick and a conditional fifth-round selection.
As the Rangers look to the trade market to shore up some of their roster holes, the market appears to be set with 1st round picks being the key piece in acquiring mid-tier offensive talent and 2nd round picks netting mid-tier defensive d-men. With the Rangers lacking a 1st rounder this year and their apparent reluctance to move young players, one begins to wonder what kind of moves they have in store, if any.
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The Rangers struggles against the Senators continued tonight in Ottawa. The Senators brought speed on special teams, shut down the middle of the ice, and the few chances the Rangers did have they simply couldn’t find the net.
Other notes, the Rangers defense really struggled with the Senators high zone pressure. Stralman in particular probably played his worst game of the season, with his inability to hold the blueline or stay with the rush. The Rangers did have a decent amount of chances at even strength, especially in the 3rd, but every chance seemed to sail wide of the net. Not a surprise really, as we’re one of the least efficient shooting teams in the league this year.
On special teams, the Senators speed and overload style of play was able to shutdown the Rangers by preventing them from having time and space to set up. The only trio that seemed to have any answer to the Sens tight checking coverage was the line of Hagelin-Stepan-Nash.
On to the goals…
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One of the most debated topics among Rangers fans this season has been whether or not John Tortorella is in fact at fault for the offensive struggles of Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik. While most of our readership doesn’t seem to make Torts out to be a scapegoat, there are a small, but nonetheless vocal few who do point the finger at our coach.
Among this group, some think Tortorella’s systems and strategies are to blame, while others blame his intense personality. I think if you’ve been reading our hockey systems posts over the last few seasons, and our work on why Tortorella juggles his lines or how he distributes ice-time, you probably already know where we stand on this topic.
Of course, most of these systems posts are based on our own observations and experiences playing the game. However, so far this season, Tortorella hasn’t said a whole lot to the media about how he actually wants Rangers hockey to be played.
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This was a tough loss for the Rangers, since they outplayed the Capitals for most of the game. The Rangers out-shot the Caps, out hit them, won more faceoffs, had a better powerplay conversion and blocked more shots. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t get that coveted third regulation goal.
In the first period, there were some crucial shifts for the Rangers following goals and penalties where the Gaborik – Richie – Nash line was deployed and did squat. That line should not be getting pinned in their own zone by the Caps third line. I know everyone wants to have line combos etched in stone, but I thought Torts made the right move putting Kreider with Nasher and Richie in the second period. Kreider was forechecking well and that front line was just flat. It was also a good move to get Gaborik away from the Caps top defensive unit.
Interestingly enough, Torts gave Gaborik a lot of TOI during OT and was seen patting him on the back a lot on the bench. To be honest, I don’t know what else you can do to get Gaborik going.
On to the goals… Read more »
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
This past Tuesday I briefly spoke about the rumors surrounding Marian Gaborik and his apparent position on the trading block. As I said in the post, Gaborik’s skill set fits any system. Should he not be traded, I’d be perfectly fine with it. However, if we could land someone who fits the key ingredients to the Rangers team template (e.g., balance, skating ability, effort), then I’d be willing to move him.
In case you missed that post during the Blue Seat Blogs blackout of 2013, I humbly suggest you read it. Do it now. I’ll wait.
Whether or not you believe the “sources” to these rumors is your own judgment call. Personally, I think Kreider’s recall could determine Gaborik’s fate, if of course there’s a team interested in Marian that isn’t on his NTC. Why pay a guy $7.5M to be a 30 goal scorer on some nights (and a ghost on other nights) when you can pay Kreider $1.3M to be our coveted power forward in training?
Over the next few weeks, if Chris impresses offensively and isn’t a defensive liability, the loss of Gaborik may be worth it from a roster perspective and a cap perspective. If you still don’t buy the rumors, for the sake of the exercise, let’s see what kind of trades involving Gaborik may actually work.
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It’s all part of the plan.
Back in the offseason I spoke frequently about the Rangers need to acquire players who fit their team template. The three main ingredients needed to restock the Rangers were roster balance, skating, and effort. As the deadline approaches, the Rangers should stick to those three ingredients when evaluating their own team and what’s available on the marketplace.
As for Tortorella, you may not like his personality and you may disagree with his coaching systems and strategies, but whether he stays or goes (I vote he stays!), the foundation he’s laid for this roster should and likely will remain intact. With that said, let’s look at few pieces and see where upgrades could potentially be made.
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One of the biggest weaknesses the Rangers organization has faced the last several seasons has been a mediocre power play. Not since the 2009-10 season have the Rangers finished in the top half of the league in PP conversions. This season in particular, the Rangers power play was a disaster early on. With that said, there was quite a bit of turnover in the offseason, a truncated training camp and plenty of injuries. Just when the Rangers were looking to turn it around in mid-February, Rick Nash went down with an injury and missed four games.
Once Nash returned, not only have the Rangers been playing great 5-on-5 hockey, but the power play has improved as well. As Dave mentioned yesterday, prior to the Rangers win streak, they were sitting dead-last in the NHL with an 8% power play. Currently they are at 15.8% overall (22nd in the NHL), 17.6% at home (20th in the NHL) and have doubled their efficiency over the past seven games. As Dave reported, their 27% efficiency rate over this streak is good for second in the NHL.
But can all of that be attributed just to Rick Nash’s return? Here’s what I’ve noticed.
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As I mentioned yesterday, we here at Blue Seat Blogs like to dig deep and cover the Rangers from a very analytical level. Sometimes that’s systems posts, other times that’s advanced stats post, other times it’s scouting report-type posts. Today we wanted to go a different direction and get off our high horse. We reached out to one of our frequent readers, Vince Rosalia, to step back and give you all an overview of the Rangers from a fan perspective. We hope you enjoy.
Man, this team is done. From the coach on down everyone just sucks (except Nash and maybe Cally). We need to get rid of Gaborik, he is just a bum. Can you believe he only had two assists the other night? Please, it was the power play, so it hardly counts. He is only number two on the team in scoring, a whole two points behind Nash!
I don’t care if Gabby’s tied for the top goal scorer on the team for the second year running (as of Monday). It is clear Gabby is done and there is no chance of him picking it up this season. His current pace of 17 goals is a total loss. We had better trade him for top talent while we can. I mean, I am a commenter on a blog, so I know more than a GM and his scouts would.
And look at Kreider, he sucks too. It was clear from the small sampling of last year’s playoffs that he was one of the next numbers to be raised to the MSG rafters. But now he is destroyed due to Torts constantly berating him. I mean, we haven’t heard Torts trash him, and he has even said to the media that the kid is just learning and is fine, but WE know what is really going on behind the scenes and Torts is just feeding us lines.
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I know there is a small, but vocal contingent of the blogosphere that will trash Tortorella when the team isn’t performing well and leave him alone when the team wins. Some people just look at the scoreboard and develop a strong opinion about the man and that’s all there is to it. Part of being a sports fan I suppose. However, what we try to do on this site is dig a little deeper.
When you peel back the onion a bit, one of the things I have come to appreciate about Tortorella are the less publicized tactics he uses to help win hockey games. Last season he changed up the Rangers neutral zone forecheck on the penalty kill, which aimed to create short-handed chances. This year he’s developed a new breakout designed to beat neutral zone traps.
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This one feels good. What started out to be a pretty slow game through the first two periods ended with a wild sprint to the finish, where the Rangers would defeat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2 in OT.
Let’s be clear. The Rangers had to win this game. Not just because they needed the two points, but because they had to defy the refs, who were atrocious tonight, and they had to make the Sabres pay for their cheap, dirty hits. They accomplished this and all should be happy.
On to the goals…
Sabres 1 Rangers 0 (Drew Stafford at 8:04 in the 2nd)
This was an easy one to breakdown. I got it after one glance. I think Joe finally broke it down a period later. Par for the course. Just kidding Joe, we love you.
Richie won the face-off, but failed to tie-up Grigorenko off the draw. Grigs got around Richie to the loose puck and back-passed to Drew Stafford. Stafford was uncovered in the high slot, thanks to Hecht’s trip on Hagelin off the draw, as seen above. Stafford just ripped one passed Lundqvist. Missed call on the refs part.
Richards Gets Cross-Checked By Patrick Kaleta
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