Time to get back on track.
The Boston Bruins come to town tonight as the most balanced team in the Eastern Conference, and the favorites (yes, over the Pens) to play for the Stanley Cup in June. The Rangers are one of the hottest teams in the league, but are coming off a pretty sloppy loss against Philly yesterday afternoon. The way the Blueshirts have been playing lately, we can expect them to come out strong against the Bruins, a team they generally play well against.
The Bruins have had the same style of play for years under Claude Julien. They play an aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck early in the period and then switch to a more conservative 1-4 or 1-1-3 lock later in the period if they have a lead. In the defensive zone, the Bs play a low zone collapse and try to defend you in layers depending on puck location. On special teams, the Bruins use an umbrella power play and a wedge+1/diamond force penalty kill where they try to pressure for turnovers.
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Photo by Len Redkoles/NHLI via Getty Images
The Rangers came into Philly hoping to get a five point cushion on second place in the Metro Division, but showed up playing sloppy hockey from start to finish. Philly is a very beatable team, and the Rangers could have really put the pressure on early with two powerplay opportunities. Once they missed on those, two defensive miscues put them down a pair, and the Rangers were playing catchup for the rest of the game.
The Flyers deserve a lot of credit in this game. They won the neutral zone battle, they forced the Rangers into a lot of turnovers, and Steve Mason was very, very strong. They took advantage of Rangers team that was not entirely there.
On to the goals:
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The Rangers are in Philly this afternoon to take on the Flyers in one of their bigger divisional match ups of the season. The Rangers have an opportunity to take a four-point-swing-game, extending their lead on the third place Flyers to five points. Currently, the Rangers have a three point lead and the tiebreaker (ROW). A win today gives the Rangers a very comfortable lead for second place.
The Flyers play a 2-1-2 forecheck, and once they get a late lead, they switch to a more conservative 1-1-3 left wing lock. In their own zone, the Flyers play a mix of zone and man-on-man defense, depending on puck location.On special teams, the Flyers run a 1-3-1 and an umbrella power play and a diamond force penalty kill with the strong side forward looking to pressure the point.
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Girardi staying helps the Rangers look elsewhere long term. Photo Credit: US Presswire
For several years the Rangers had a relatively steady flow of defensive prospects make it to the NHL through the system. Whether it was Michael Del Zotto, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Mike Sauer or Girardi himself, the Rangers were able to supplement the NHL roster with cost effective home grown talent. Recently, there have been concerns of the talent approaching the NHL level.
With the relatively slow progress made by Dylan McIlrath (who still has time on his side) and the unknown NHL projections of Brady Skjei and Calle Andersson, the Rangers don’t have the ability to promote from within. Perhaps Conor Allen aside, there is very little that could step up in short notice.
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Update: Per Darren Dreger, the Rangers and Girardi have agreed on a six-year deal worth $5.5 million, keeping Girardi on Broadway until he turns 36 years old. Per Pierre LeBrun, Girardi’s deal has a full no-movement clause for the first three years, and a modified no-trade clause the last three years.
Original Post: Per John Shannon of Sportsnet, the Rangers and defenseman Dan Girardi are closing in on an extension to keep the soon to be 30-year-old defenseman in New York for the foreseeable future. Girardi is rumored to want a six-year deal worth $5.5 million per year, which puts him right at where I estimated for the 2014-2015 payroll. The Rangers were countering with one of two deals: A six-year deal at $5 million per year or a five-year deal at $5.5 million per year.
Girardi’s current deal, which came with a $3.325 million cap hit, expires at the end of the season.
It’s the time in hockey season where rumours are rampant. Ryan Callahan is apparently already half way out the door, the Rangers are apparently in bed with Martin St Louis and apparently Glen Sather will ‘check in’ on Ryan Kesler. All of these rumours have legs to some degree, so when you hear Derek Stepan’s name mooted as a piece Vancouver may want back for any Kesler deal, it does make you question the moving pieces.
The Rangers, for the long term, cannot afford to move Stepan. Not just because he is a home grown, quality player but because too much change is never a good thing. Consider the likely departure of Brad Richards in the summer. Consider also the expiring contracts of Brian Boyle and Dominic Moore. Then throw into the mix the still uncertain future of Derick Brassard (How much is enough? Is he even kept?). There is a legitimate chance in all of this then that the Rangers entire center ice unit changes. Until you realize no team in their right mind would change an entire position over one deadline/off-season. Right, Glen?…
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The Hartford Wolf Pack have recalled forward Kyle Jean from the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors. Jean, who was demoted to Greenville on January 14, has a line of 4-7-11 in 18 games with the Road Warriors. In 27 games with the Wolf Pack, Jean has a line of 2-2-4, and has continued his steep drop off from his hot start last season.
- This was a pretty impressive victory considering: 1) the Rangers played without their best forward 2) started their backup goalie 4) are facing plenty of distractions 4) were returning from a long Olympic break and 5) were up against the defending Stanley Cup champions. But New York pulled out a 2-1 win to improve to 2-0-0 against Chicago this season. Better still, the Blueshirts have held the league’s best offense to just three goals in two games.
- Though Derick Brassard and Benoit Pouliot were missing their usual linemate, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller filled in nicely and the third line played a very strong game. Brassard extended his point streak to seven games with the game’s first goal and Pouliot was great on the board all night. Miller’s tremendous forecheck led to Brassard’s goal after he amazingly picked Jonathan Toews’ pocket. Miller was very engaged all night and played easily his best game of the season.
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Photo: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
The Rangers open their post-Olympics schedule against one of the favorites in the Western Conference. The rest of the week doesn’t get much better, as New York has Philly, Boston, and Toronto following the Hawks, all playoff teams. The Rangers will face this schedule without their leading scorer in Mats Zuccarello, and with trade rumors surrounding their captain and top-pairing defenseman. The Hawks are the toughest test, and they are the first to get the shorthanded Rangers.
Joel Quenneville is one of the best coaches in the game. His Hawks play an aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck, keeping the back forward and defensemen ready to jump on turnovers. In the defensive zone, the Hawks play a standard zone defense looking to defend you in layers based on puck location. On special teams, they run a 1-3-1 power play, and a wedge+1 penalty kill.
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For those that missed it last night, Vancouver center Ryan Kesler has reportedly requested a trade from the Canucks. Within minutes, there was buzz for a Kesler/Ryan Callahan swap. It’s natural, I guess, to assume that a deal could work out between the two sides, but there are way too many road blocks that would prevent a deal from happening.
First and foremost: Ryan Kesler has a no-trade clause, and had a big falling out with Alain Vigneault before AV departed Vancouver. Since AV is the head coach here in New York, it’s unlikely Kesler would waive his NTC to come play under the same coach.
Along the same lines, Cally and John Tortorella –now the head coach in Vancouver– don’t have the same relationship they once did (rumored). It is believed that Cally did not stick up for Torts prior to his surprise firing in May. The Cally/Torts situation is more speculation than anything though.
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