Plenty of goal celebrations tonight please.
If you think the Rangers media/fan base is bad, you should have seen the stink kicked up by Jake Gardiner’s agent in Toronto. One naughty tweet (“free Jake Gardiner”) created a storm of speculation. Rangers’ prospects should relax knowing they don’t need to deal with the overzealous Toronto market.
Following on from his recent upturn in form, Michael Del Zotto is averaging a point per game against the Jets franchise. The Buffalo game aside (almost everyone stank), it will be interesting to see MDZ on the puck tonight and see whether he can continue to bring the level of poise and confidence he’s had recently. He’s an important part of this team, and when he’s on can make other players around him more dangerous.
Something about tonight’s match up; if the team can’t enter this game motivated, hungry, and with serious energy I’ll be slightly concerned. The Rangers and Jets are 8th and 9th in the standings, with the same points. There is a lot riding on this game. This is the kind of game where the Rangers better players need to step up.
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Del Zotto has been solid lately, much needed by the Rangers
It won’t be a popular topic with many Rangers fans, but Michael Del Zotto has quietly gone about playing some very good hockey since returning from his injury. This return to form is also coinciding with the Rangers recent strong run, which is no coincidence.
Del Zotto’s form has been overshadowed by Ryan McDonagh’s own return to form, Marc Staal’s injury, Rick Nash’s free scoring ways and the partial re-emergence of a powerplay that has begun to make a positive difference once again (finally?). Perhaps this is the best way for Del Zotto. He gets the opportunity to float under the radar, and have the attention focused elsewhere.
In not being blamed for every defensive error committed by the Rangers, and partially forgotten about on the offensive side of the puck, Del Zotto has had the opportunity to play himself back in to form in relative peace and quiet. While other players take the plaudits, Del Zotto has gotten better.
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Michael Del Zotto is needed now, more than ever.
The Rangers shoot for a season best fourth victory in a row tonight against the Islanders. Naturally, the Islanders love playing spoiler to their big brother neighbours so it should be a dandy. On to the musings.
Where do you stand on the visor front? I’m all for mandatory visors and always have been. Hockey is a fast and dangerous sport why wouldn’t you want to be as safe as possible? It will be interesting to see if Marc Staal changes his stance when (not if) he returns.
Hate to say I told you so: I said on Twitter that the Rangers should go after Roman Hamrlik before he was claimed, and I thought that before Marc Staal’s injury. He’s not what he was at 38 years old, but a rusty Hamrlik is better at this stage of his career than Stu Bickel, or more consistent than Matt Gilroy. Regarding the concern over his skating: Bickel can’t skate either and Gilroy’s skating ability hasn’t exactly helped him establish himself. So Hamrlik still represents an upgrade on the third pair, even with his limited skating ability.
One final thing on Staal; Assuming he misses the rest of the season, by the time next October comes around Staal will have missed a lot of hockey in the past two years. Does that affect him long term? It could go one of two ways; either he’ll benefit from having plenty left in the tank or he’ll have missed so much competitive hockey he’ll not be the same player he was.
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Brandon Mashinter was returned to the AHL this morning after playing four games for the Rangers. Mash finished with a -2 rating, 7 hits, and 1 blocked shot in extremely limited playing time. Returning Mash to the AHL leaves the Rangers with 11 forwards, so it is likely that Rick Nash, the player who was on IR, will be reactivated for tomorrow’s game.
Speaking of Nash, he participated in practice today in a full-contact jersey. Ryan McDonagh and Michael Del Zotto also participated in practice, also with full-contact jerseys.
Per Pat Loenard, Michael Del Zotto (lower body), Dan Girardi (foot), and Darroll Powe (concussion) are all on the ice today for practice. Del Zotto missed Saturday’s game, and Powe had been out since his incidental contact with Matt Hendricks. Girardi didn’t even miss a game. Still convinced he’s an alien.
Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, and Arron Asham are not at practice.
Time for McIlrath to put the sweater on? (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
With the injuries mounting in New York and the likes of Stu Bickel and Steve Eminger clearly not enjoying the trust of John Tortorella, could we see first round pick and great white hope, Dylan McIlrath rushed to New York? With a nickname like the Undertaker and a (listed) 6-5, 220 lb frame, McIlrath has the potential to be an imposing defenseman.
As seen by the recent inclusion of Christian Thomas, and to a lesser extent Chris Kreider and JT Miller, readiness may not be the priority but rather the necessity of numbers and positional relevance. If you’re going to have to fill the roster you may as well fill it with players with upside. Clearly the Rangers hope Dylan McIlrath will fulfill his talent and draft status in upcoming seasons. He may get a chance sooner rather than later.
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Bad PP? Wonder who could fix it?
I’m assuming the Rangers don’t have an issue with their former legend Brian Leetch and I’m assuming Leetch doesn’t hate Glen Sather for moving him out of New York to the Leafs all those years ago. So, why not get him on board and help right the wrongs of the current roster?
This is just food for thought on a lazy Sunday afternoon but other clubs have brought in specialist coaches such as the Sharks with Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson to directly deal with previous issues. The Sharks had a woeful PK (amid other things) and the new coaches helped right away. They dealt with their issues proactively.
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There was a lot going on today in Rangerland, and there may be some significant roster changes for tonight’s game. Per Andrew Gross, the Rangers are dealing with the following injuries/lineup changes:
- Arron Asham is out with back spasms. Christian Thomas has been recalled to take his roster spot.
- To make room for Thomas, Rick Nash has been placed on IR, retroactive to last Saturday.
- Marc Staal has the flu, and is a game time decision.
- Michael Del Zotto is a game time decision with the lower body injury sustained on Thursday.
- Martin Biron is starting tonight.
I think that sums it up at the moment. There’s a lot going on tonight.
“Some fans don’t like me? … Oh no!” </sarcasm>
There’ll be no Marc Staal defence’s today (kudos Suit), no long-winded rants, just lots of discussion. I’m feeling concise today so let’s get straight into the Le Musing (ooh, very French…)
Michael Del Zotto: The young and oft maligned blueliner is off to a great start to the year. He’ll never win over all his critics but he’s been the Rangers best blueliner at both ends so far. For a unit that struggled early on, and for a player with much to prove, he’s doing exactly that. Several big plays already this season.
Glen Sather deserves a ton of credit for Del Zotto’s start. Sather challenged Del Zotto to earn a bigger deal. He called him out while at the same time ensuring he publicly acknowledged the young defenseman’s worth to the franchise. He doesn’t speak in public much but Sather hit this one on the head. Sather dealt with the MDZ situation perfectly.
If I were to personally grade Marian Gaborik after 6 games, I’d probably be harsher than most people. I’d give him a B+ where some people would see the totals and assume excellence. I’m one of Gabby’s biggest fans, but he’s at times dominated and at times been found wanting. Of course, the times he’s impressed have outnumbered those he’s struggled in. The only thing missing from Gaborik’s season thus far is that elite level of consistency.
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There’ll be plenty of celebration this season, despite the slow start
Here’s an interesting statistic I read after the Pittsburgh loss: The Rangers will play their 48 games in 99 days. Last year they played their final 48 games in 100 days. Basically there is no great concern or big deal to be made of the compressed schedule. There will also be sufficient practice time.
The Rangers managed to win the Atlantic Division last year and came mighty close to winning the President’s Trophy. How they achieved last year’s success was on the back of a stingy, hard working defense providing Lundqvist with the platform to play to his Vezina winning standards. They also evidenced in the second half of last year an ability to adjust to their opponents styles – something that practice time will help achieve.
This season – all two games of it – the defense has been awful. Poor coverage, players guilty of chasing the puck and not remembering their positional duties and poor zone exits, not to mention a poor first pass; the defense has done precious little right thus far. That said, look at the players that make up the Rangers blueline. Marc Staal can still be forgiven for needing a few more games to get back up to his best but is a quality defenseman, particularly in his own zone.
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