Lundqvist: must do better. (Bennett/Getty)
Henrik Lundqvist seems to have forgotten how to control rebounds, and his decision making around the net has been abysmal. Martin Biron can’t even stop a shot from the blueline. Every aspect of the Rangers (Brad Richards aside) has been awful to start the year, but it has to start and end in net, and the Rangers are nowhere near good enough in goal so far. It’s been that bad that maybe Glen Sather is reducing his next contract offer to Henrik Lundqvist as we speak.
To be fair, the Rangers defense has been almost as bad; coverage has been terrible, positioning and decision making even worse, and the Rangers goaltending tandem have had opposing players open in front and have often faced far too high a quality of shot. That said, it comes back to your goaltender giving you a chance and neither goalie has done that so far.
Read more »
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
To say the Rangers have gotten off to a rough start this season would be an understatement. The Kings game aside, the Blueshirts have been thoroughly de-pantsed by some of the Western Conference’s finest over the past few games. After spending all summer telling my wife (who knows an awful lot about the game) how excited I was about AV’s arrival and the potential for this team to be really successful this season, she pointedly asked me last night, “what the hell is wrong with them?”. I was at something of a loss.
Earlier this week, The Suit splendidly broke down AV’s systems and got us all up to speed on what we should be expecting out of the Ranger players this season. But this malaise goes much deeper than simply adjusting to the system. They are making serious fundamental hockey errors, as opposed to systems errors.
Read more »
B-Rich has started well
Highlighted by his two goal performance in the impressive win over the Kings, Brad Richards has started the season well; which is a great sign for the Rangers. Having played a lackluster preseason – which came on the heels of his well documented (abysmal) 2012-13 season – Richards has begun to lay to rest the lingering concerns for this season.
He is skating well, looking to put the puck on net, and is getting separation from defenseman – something he did all too rarely last season. Perhaps most importantly is the lack of blind, drop passes on the blue line which were littered throughout his play last season.
While it’s only two games in to the new season – one of which was the sloppy Coyotes’ loss – the start laid down by Richard’s bodes well for the team. An in-form Richards would be hugely beneficial because, while Derek Stepan was much improved against the Kings (wasn’t everyone?), Stepan still has work to do to get back to his form of a year ago. If Richards can give the Rangers a strong year it’ll give the Rangers excellent depth down the middle.
Read more »
Taylor Pyatt has not been a successful addition
The Rangers were particularly sloppy against the Coyotes, were outdueled in net and on special teams. But no one will panic after one game that came on the heels of an awkward, disjointed preseason. That said there are a few players who are surely on shaky ground. One particular player who doesn’t figure to be part of the future is Taylor Pyatt.
Taylor Pyatt started his Rangers career in strong fashion and bookended last season with a solid playoffs, but Pyatt could be expendable on a team where cap space is a necessity. He cannot keep up on the ice and is as inconsistent now as the talented winger has ever been.
While Pyatt was not the worst Ranger forward on the ice on Thursday he was simply ineffective. No shots, no particularly strong shifts or physical play, nothing to demand the attention from the coaching staff or demand more ice time moving forward.
Read more »
Norm Hull/Getty Images
Last night, the Rangers lost their 2013-2014 opener in Phoenix. It was neither pretty nor particularly encouraging. Sure, there were some bright spots; Brad Richards showed signs of life, Marc Staal looked great and the defense as a whole looked much more active in the offensive zone.
Since the pre-season started, the staff here at BSB has been preaching patience. There has been a ton of upheaval even though there was very little roster turnover from last year’s team. Not only has there been the difficulty of a coaching change and all new systems implementation, but the Blueshirts start the season on a 9-game road trip.
Derek Stepan got a late start on camp due to his contract situation and two top-6 forwards in Callahan and Hagelin are out to start the season; not to mention the disappointing camp from Chris Kreider.
Read more »
J.T. Miller will need to force his way into a permanent spot in New York (Seth Wenig/AP)
One question that has been brought up a lot recently is who the Rangers will waive or return to Hartford when Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin return to the lineup. Cally is aiming for a Monday return in LA, while Hagelin is currently on LTIR and will miss –at a minimum– the first ten games of the season. The two rookies on the roster, Jesper Fast (RW) and J.T. Miller (LW) appear to be the placeholders for Cally and Hags.
Considering the Captain will only miss one game, it is almost a sure-fire bet that Fast will be returned to Hartford once Cally is good to go. As good as Fast has been in the preseason, big minutes are more important to his development than remaining with the big club. Cally will slide into Fast’s spot in the lineup, maybe causing a bit of a shakeup of the lines on his return. After that, the left wings have another handful of games as an extended tryout to remain with the club when Hagelin returns.
Read more »
Rick Nash is facing a huge amount of pressure. Starting Thursday
As the Rangers prepare to open their season on Thursday against the Phoenix Coyotes, they will do so missing two of their presumptive top six forwards and with their de facto top line center behind the eight ball thanks to Derek Stepan’s (partial) holdout. Throw in the continued struggles of the likes of Chris Kreider and the less than inspiring preseason of Brad Richards, and the pressure on Rick Nash to lead an offense has never been greater.
Despite being part of a far more talented collective in New York, Nash wouldn’t even have faced this level of expectancy in Columbus, where he was the lone elite talent. In New York this season, the Rangers’ burly power forward is expected to lead a contender’s offense for the first time, and do so in a legitimate big sports market (sorry Ohio).
At the start of last year it was assumed Brad Richards was still a top line center. The excitement of Chris Kreider’s arrival was still very real, and the Rangers of course still had a guy called Marian Gaborik. Fast forward a year and the Rangers begin the season without Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin, Richards is a shadow of his former self, and Kreider is in the AHL.
Read more »
Darroll Powe is one of many options the Rangers have in Hartford
Though the Rangers certainly can’t replace core players like Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin flawlessly, the organization does have substantially more quality depth this year. Whereas last season New York was forced to call-up the likes of Kris Newbury, Benn Ferriero and Brandon Segal when AHL reinforcements were needed, the 2013-2014 Blueshirts have as many as 10 decent substitute options. Emergency fill-ins like Micheal Haley and Brandon Mashinter – who both played several games last season – are still available, but they’ve been joined by a host of near NHL-ready prospects and a surplus of proven veteran depth forwards.
The delayed re-signing of Derek Stepan, the ongoing negotiation stalemate with Henrik Lundqvist, the new coaching staff and the impressive play of top prospects got more attention during training camp, but improved depth may prove to be the story of the season.
Read more »
Per Pat Leonard, the Rangers practiced the powerplay for an extended period of time today with two distinct units:
PP1: Marc Staal-Brad Richards, JT Miller-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
PP2: Michael Del Zotto-Dan Girardi, Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Miller getting the nod on the powerplay is likely due to Ryan Callahan’s absence. Considering Rick Nash’s goal locations from last season, it’s fair to assume that he will continue to slide in at the off-wing. One of Stepan or Cally will play the off-wing on the other side (both right-handed shots), with the other sticking in front of the net. Staal and Richards will, naturally, be on the point.
It is interesting to see that Del Zotto was knocked to the second powerplay unit, after getting a lot of time on the top unit the past few years. My guess with those forwards on PP2: Go with what works at even strength.
(Source: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images North America)
The Rangers are a very deep team this season, especially at forward. They are in a position where –when fully healthy– they have three scoring lines and a solid defensive fourth line. However there is one glaring weakness (on paper); the apparent lack of physicality and toughness on the roster. Even with a healthy Ryan Callahan, the Rangers are at risk of being surprisingly vanilla, with just three forwards (Callahan, Brian Boyle, Derek Dorsett) slated to play who regularly throw their body around. Arron Asham is a fourth, but he seems destined for the 13th/14th forward role.
On defense, it doesn’t get much easier. The club doesn’t have a “nasty” defenseman who makes life hard on players who go to the front of the net. Ryan McDonagh is the closest thing they have, but he doesn’t have a history of beating people down in front of the net at the NHL level. Michael Del Zotto and Dan Girardi led the team in hits for defensemen, and we saw them being more physical in front in the preseason, but they still don’t qualify as that “nasty” player.
Read more »