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Last night, Marc Staal was a last-minute scratch from Game Four, forcing Steve Eminger back into the lineup. In Games One and Two, Eminger got enough ice time to give the others a rest, playing 10 minutes in Game One and 14 minutes in Game Two. After sitting out Game Three (with Staal in the lineup), Eminger played just six minutes in Game Four, and didn’t see the ice after a gaffe in the offensive zone that led to the Caps first goal.
Perhaps that is just a one game benching, much like we had seen with Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik this season. But we’ve also seen the other end of the spectrum (see: Bickel, Stu) where repeated gaffes led to barely five minutes of playing time per game. Eminger has seen his fair share of benching, but he has also seen top-four minutes under Torts.
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The Rangers have recalled defenseman Steve Eminger from the Connecticut Whale of the AHL. Eminger was initially sent to CT on a conditioning stint, but the injury to Michael Del Zotto prompted the recall in case MDZ can’t go on Saturday.
In four games with the Whale, Eminger notched a goal and a -3 rating. He has played just four games with the Rangers this season.
Per Andrew Gross, citing the AHL transaction website, the Rangers have loaned defenseman Steve Eminger to the Connecticut Whale on a two-week conditioning stint. Eminger has played just four games this year for the Rangers, which includes just one game in February. In each of those games, Eminger was used for less than ten minutes per game in each of those contests.
The Whale play six games in the next two weeks, which will give Eminger plenty of game situations. This is not a demotion to the AHL, this is a conditioning stint.
As we approach the lockout deadline – faster than most people would wish – lets jump straight into another episode of Musings and talk about non – CBA, Rangers orientated stuff.
Personally I’m somewhat underwhelmed with the Steve Eminger re-signing. Yes, he fits in well with the club and has had partial success with the Rangers however the Eminger and most, if not all, veteran defenseman available would have limited offers at this stage. My preference would have been to invite Eminger and a couple of other veterans to camp (if there is one) and have an open competition. Everything seems pretty safe and secure now, heading into camp.
NHL.com recently started discussing fantasy options (getting ahead of themselves?) and they talked about Chris Kreider as a strong sleeper candidate. Kreider is exactly that. He can’t be a sure fire draft pick and his actual (non fantasy) production can’t be projected too closely, despite his playoff exposure. But Kreider has tremendous potential next season; for fantasy owners and the Rangers.
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First off, apologies for the blog being down yesterday. There was a major GoDaddy outage, and we were affected by it. Naturally, during two months of no Ranger news, the day we have an outage is the day the Rangers make a move.
The organization decided that they want a third year of Steve Eminger, and re-signed him to a one year, $750,000 deal. Eminger, a right-handed shot, was seeing top-four minutes for a good portion of the season last year before suffering a separated shoulder. The injury cost him 21 games, and then an ankle injury cost him 12 more regular season and seven playoff games.
In 107 career games for the Rangers, Eminger has four goals, seven assists, and 50 PIMs. He’s not being paid to score, he’s being paid to be serviceable in his own end and provide solid depth defense. Looking at his GVT and DGVT numbers from last year, he did just that. His 1.2 GVT and 1.5 DGVT in 42 games average out to a 2.34 GVT and a 2.92 DGVT over 82 games. Using handy-dandy PVT, having Eminger as a depth defenseman gave the Rangers an extra point in the standings.
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Before we get to the report card for the Rangers blueline, let’s remember this: the Rangers enjoyed a spectacular season bested by only two teams in the entire league. A huge part of this success was because of the Rangers blueline. With that said, let’s look at the grades for the Rangers defensemen.
(p.s. if you missed it, here’s the Suit’s take on the top six scoring forwards this season – enjoy.)
For a significant part of the season Dan Girardi played like a Norris Trophy candidate. He was that good. Girardi enjoyed his finest season for the Rangers. With 29 points, a plus 13 rating, being an absolute work horse like few other in the entire league not to mention all the shot blocking, Dan Girardi literally does it all for the Rangers.
Aside from a very occasional stumble in the latter half of the season the only things that perhaps stop Girardi from being the perfect all round defenseman are his shooting percentage and lack of presence on the power play (1 goal). I really had to nitpick when trying to criticise Dan Girardi for this post. He is a richly deserved 2012 NHL All Star. Mid-season: A+/Full Season: A+/Playoffs: A+
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Whether you agree with the suspension or not, Brandon Prust will not be playing in tonight’s Game 4 against the Devils. With the opportunity to build a two game lead, the Rangers will be without one of their warriors and top penalty killers. It’s a blow, but not a blow that can’t be overcome. Unlike with Carl Hagelin, the Rangers have a few options readily available to replace Prust for the one game ban.
Option 1: Brandon Dubinsky
This option is the best option for the Rangers. With Dubi cleared for contact and partaking in optional skates, he is on the cusp of returning to action. It has to be assumed that if Dubi can play, then he will play. Dubi would be a perfect fit to replace Prust, as Dubi can slide in quietly to a fourth line role for this game, and ease back into playoff hockey. Plus, if Dubi comes back, the penalty kill won’t suffer too much with Prust out.
Option 2: Insert Stu Bickel at forward
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So we get a lot of questions on Twitter, and it is unfortunate that we cannot always respond to every question. In an attempt to address the most popular questions, we are going to start with these “Twitter Bag” posts, where we answer some of the more consistent questions we get on Twitter. We love addressing these, so keep them coming, and we will do everything we can to answer each question sent to us.
Q: Why is Stu Bickel playing still? Wouldn’t Jeff Woywitka or Steve Eminger have a better effect?
A: It’s tough to really say why Bickel is still in the lineup. He played better on Saturday with double the normal amount of ice time, but his usual three minutes don’t really give him an opportunity to be a difference maker. Tortorella likes him because of his physical ability, which is something that neither Woywitka nor Eminger really have. Eminger is ahead of Woywitka on the depth chart, so we can essentially eliminate Woywitka from the occasion (barring injury). In terms of ability, Eminger is a marginally better skater than Bickel, but it is clear Torts likes the latter. I think the club can benefit from having someone like Eminger take more than three minutes of ice time, but only if Torts trusts him to do so.
Q: Why did Torts bench Chris Kreider? Isn’t that sending the wrong message?
A: I’m in the minority that agrees with the benching. The club is in a tough spot of trying to teach the kid on the fly while winning games in the playoffs. That turnover –and Hank’s flub– was the direct cause of the goal. Every other youngster that Torts has coached has seen significant time on the bench when similar mistakes are made. It would be a coaching inconsistency to not bench Kreider. Lesson learned. He won’t do it again.
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We here at BSB are big fans of John Tortorella. Sure, he’s curt with the media, but we aren’t media, so we really don’t care what he says in interviews. We are more concerned with his on ice decisions, his roster decisions, and how he handles the locker room. This brilliant move covers the third aspect, and it is directly related to Chris Kreider.
Elliotte Friedman of CBC pointed out –during his weekly 30 Thoughts column– that Torts approached the team about the Kreider signing:
Tortorella asked the team to trust the organization’s decision to bring in Chris Kreider so late in the season, knowing it could upset chemistry.
It was likely a short discussion, but it was one of those necessary discussions. The Rangers won 50 games without Kreider, so why would they risk bringing him in for the playoffs? The Rangers were the top seed, and did it all through hard work and playing for each other. What if Kreider didn’t fit in with that mentality? It was a big risk.
Tortorella asked for trust. They gave it to him. Kreider rewarded him.
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Prior to Game Two, coach John Tortorella made a key decision for his lineup just before puck drop. With Brian Boyle able to play, Tortorella had to decide to sit one of Steve Eminger or Stu Bickel. Both played in Game One, and neither hit five minutes of ice time. Bickel has not been seeing anywhere near the ice time he saw in the regular season, and Eminger has only played in one playoff game since permanently losing his spot to Bickel.
After Bickel’s giveaway led to the Mike Knuble goal on Monday, Bickel saw just one more shift, and it wasn’t until midway through the second period. After that one shift, he didn’t play again for the rest of the game.
So now it is likely that Eminger will be inserted into the lineup. With Bickel in the chateau-bow-wow, it only makes logical sense that Eminger will dress in Bickel’s place. But dressing Eminger comes with some uncertainty as he has not been the same Steve Eminger since separating his shoulder in December.
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