With pucks set to drop in just a few short weeks, many questions will arise going into an abbreviated training camp. One of the biggest questions about the Rangers roster specifically is, just how much should we expect to see Martin Biron this season?
In two full seasons with the Rangers, Martin Biron has played in 17 and 21 games, or 20% and 26% of the season. This year will be different.
On one hand, a reduced amount of games obviously gives guys a chance to rest both physically and mentally. After all, it was Torts who had to convince Lundqvist to start fewer games last season in order to keep the tank full. The result was Hank’s first Vezina. Of course, the other side of the equation is losing a step.
This past weekend it was confirmed the NHL submitted a new proposal to the union Thursday afternoon. According to reports, the latest offer is approximately 300 pages and is the most “comprehensive proposal” the league has submitted in months.
While the NHLPA takes the time to review the proposal over the weekend, I would recommend everyone remain cautiously optimistic. I’m sure the union will craft a counter offer, since the rumored drop-dead date to start a 48 game season is January 19th. Meaning an agreement would have to be in place sometime during the 2nd week of January. In other words, the NHLPA has time to squeeze the league for a little bit more.
Below are the key highlights of the proposal and what I think are non-issues and key sticking points.
Last week we took an early look at the Rangers potential top 6 line combinations. I think the majority of us agree some iteration of Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik, Brad Richards, Rick Nash, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan will comprise our top 2 scoring lines. With that said, the Rangers bottom six is a bit less certain.
The assumption is Carl Hagelin, Brian Boyle, Taylor Pyatt, Mike Rupp, Jeff Halpern and Arron Asham will fill those roles. However, three of those six have never played for John Tortorella before and we all know how Torts utilizes his 4th line…
Ultimately, it comes down to skating, work effort and a team first attitude. If any of these guys prove to be a liability in any of those facets of the game, they will be replaced by someone from Hartford.
Today, we’re going to take a break from CBA talk and look down the road to training camp and beyond. Call me hopeful, but this suit thinks the NHL will play a partial season. With this in mind, perhaps no other aspect of a training camp, preseason, or regular season roster is more critiqued & analyzed by fans than line combinations, especially how Torts generates line combos.
Creating line combos is everyone’s chance to play armchair coach. It doesn’t matter what team you follow or which coach stands behind your bench. Every fan wants to dream up lines and see them produce. For the Rangers, this will be the first time John Tortorella will have a top 6 that won’t be a revolving door.
In his first few seasons as coach, Torts lacked a top flight center. As a result, Torts was left to choose from average Joes for the first line such as Erik Christensen, Ollie Jokinen and Brandon Dubinsky, to name a few. Once Brad Richards came aboard and Derek Stepan emerged, the Rangers center position stabilized. Of course, then they lacked a premiere scorer on the left side of the ice. From 2009-2011, guys best suited for bottom 6 minutes like Avery, Fedotenko, Chris Higgins and Wojtek Wolski all had stints in a top 6 role.
With a 2013 season hopefully around the corner, Torts could finally have balanced scoring throughout the lineup. Here’s an early look at what opening night line combinations could look like…
In part 1 of this series, Dave reviewed some of his predictions for the 2011-12 season. Today it is my turn to call myself out on what I got wrong and what predictions actually panned out. While I won’t grade every single forecast I’ve made over the past year or so, there are a few points worth analyzing in retrospect.
First, I’ll start with a few that blew up in my face.
Dan Girardi: Following the 2010-2011 season, I called him a jack of all trades, master of none. I said he was a solid player, but just not elite. I also thought he could be moved for a top scorer.
Um wrong, wrong and wrong again.
With Staal out for most of last season – and not playing at 100% thereafter – Dan Girardi stepped up in a major way. He was one of the best defensive defensemen in the league and even chipped in almost 30 points on offense. It is not easy to get up ice and make plays after throwing hits and blocking shots the way he does. This is just one of those predictions that I am happy I got wrong.
With lockout hangover still in full effect, I figured it’s a good day for a “did you know” type of post. Below are all of the current NHL players who grew up in the Metropolitan Area. Like most of us fans, these guys started playing hockey as kids and worked their way up through the high school and local junior ranks before heading off to top-tier junior leagues, college and beyond.
Side note- I only picked kids who grew up in the area. People born here, but raised elsewhere (e.g., Bobby Ryan, Brandon Sutter, Tim Erixon, etc.) were not included.
Here is a breakdown by team:
Anaheim Ducks -Kyle Palmieri who grew up a Rangers fan in Montvale, NJ, cracked the Ducks lineup last year after dominating the AHL. The 21-year-old got his start in organized hockey at Sport-O-Rama in Rockland County, N.Y. and later played for the Devils’ under-16 junior team. Palmieri attended St. Peter’s Prep in Jersey City, where he led the team to the Non-Public State championship game as a sophomore. After that, he moved on to the U.S. National Team Development Program and later played for the Fighting Irish.
Dallas Stars –Eric Nystrom, a 6 year veteran forward, grew up in Syosset and attended Portledge School. He played for the New York Apple Core, a local tier III junior team based in Long Beach that competes in the EJHL. After a stint with the NYAC he left for the U.S. National Program and later played for the University of Michigan. Eric is the son of former NHLer Bob Nystrom who helped bring the Islanders their first Stanley Cup in 1980.
According to an article written by Katie Strang at ESPN (with Lebrun contributing), the league plans to cancel the Winter Classic on Thursday. Although there wasn’t any detailed information in the article as to why the Classic would be canceled this early, other sites including the CBC and the NY Times have cited different contractual terms as the reasoning behind a potential cancellation.
According to CBC.ca, if the Winter Classic is canceled by Nov. 2, the NHL will only forfeit $100,000 of the $3 million in rent owed to the University of Michigan. However, the NY Times had a somewhat contradictory report.
Almost 150 NHL players have taken their talents abroad. Some will skate in arenas as far west as the Irish Sea, and some as far east as the Sea of Japan. Of those 150 players, three represent the pride of the New York Rangers.
Carl Hagelin has continued his domination of Sweden’s second-tier league, HockeyAllsvenskan. There he has posted 2 goals and 5 assists in 4 games played for Södertälje SK. Ironically, he skates alongside Rangers’ rivals Matt Read and Niklas Grossmann, both of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Norfolk, VA, October 19, 2012 – The Connecticut Whale got its first point of the young season, courtesy of a third-period comeback, but remained winless on the season Friday, as Corey Elkins’ third goal of the game with 29.2 seconds remaining in overtime gave the Norfolk Admirals a 5-4 win at Scope Arena.
Brandon Segal, who won a Calder Cup with the Admirals last season, scored his first two Whale goals in the third period to wipe out a 4-2 Whale deficit, and Matt Gilroy also had his first two AHL goals for Connecticut. Jay Rosehill and Peter Holland also scored for Norfolk, and defenseman Sami Vatanen had three assists. Kris Newbury, Mike Vernace and Kyle Jean had two assists each for the Whale.
Friday’s game was the first of back-to-back meetings between the Whale and Admirals, who will face off again Saturday night at 7:15 PM (“The Rock” 106.9 WCCC-FM, www.wccc.com).
When I first read a text message this morning from one of my friends about a Deadspin article leaking some NHL focus group documents about the labor dispute, I thought to myself, eh…non-story. Just about every major organization that sells a product or service conducts market research (e.g., focus groups, surveys, polls, etc.) to gauge consumer feedback.
Of course, then I logged on to Twitter and my timeline was blown up with anti-league, anti-ownership and even anti-focus group rants. I guess this is the predictable byproduct of what happens when the uniformed media tries to dissect business strategies.
Here’s what we all know. The NHL is taking a massive PR hit. However, in order for the league to protect their brand image from the relentless negative media coverage, they have to craft a response that fans can digest. By gauging fan’s opinions on the NHL and NHLPA’s labor dispute, the league will be better informed on what messaging works and what doesn’t.