NYR Preseason Thoughts, AV In The Press, Nash, Thinning The Numbers, Skjei, Ranger’s D/Pairings & More

Coach AV will be pointing and looking at a lot of players this week.

Welcome everyone to another blog here at BLUECOLLARBLUESHIRTS.com. As always, check out the right hand of the site for the archives.

As stated in my last few blogs, my time isn’t as plenty as it was last season, which means these blogs won’t be as often. However, with some time on my hands now, let’s get into it.

The Rangers played three preseason games since my last entry, looking horrible against the Flyers, losing a game in a shootout to the Bruins and winning a game against the Devils. There was plenty to take out of all three games. I thought Lundqvist played fabulous in the effort against Philly, which means a lot, because he’s notoriously a slow starter. However, he did look rusty in NJ.

I thought the Rangers really, as whole, played well against the Bruins. It really was a game won, with the only difference being goalie Jeff Malcom, blowing a two goal lead & losing a shootout. But in all honesty, he was never going to make the roster anyway, and was cut after the game.

As far as Talbot’s replacement, as the back-up goalie, with the options available, Raanta has my vote. Gotta go with the experience, even if it is limited. It’s more experience than what’s on the roster right now. I just wonder how Raanta will feel on opening night, when the Blackhawks are raising the Cup in his face. To be honest, I hope Lundqvist gets fired the fuck up on opening night in Chicago too. Maybe he will realize you can’t blow two goal leads and give up back-to-back touchdowns in a Conference Final. Really, is there any other player in the NHL today that needs that Cup to justify a HOF career & perhaps deserves a Cup more than him?

As far as the other goalies in the organization, I think Hellberg has potential. With his height, maybe he can become the next Ben Bishop. Skapski is interesting as well, but keep in mind, his two wins last year were against a team tanking on purpose. Halverson is the wild card, as he seems to have the hype and has been protected by the organization.

Before continuing, I just want to post the updated roster cuts, in case you haven’t seen them yet.

From BLUESHIRTSUNITED.com:

New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has trimmed its Training Camp roster.
 
The Blueshirts have assigned Luke Adam, Mat Bodie, Ryan Bourque, Brian Gibbons, Ryan Graves, Magnus Hellberg, Brady Skjei, and Chris Summers to Training Camp for the Rangers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Hartford Wolf Pack.
         
The Rangers have 25 players remaining in Training Camp. The roster breakdown is listed below:
 
Forwards (15): Derick Brassard, Emerson Etem, Jesper Fast, Tanner Glass, Kevin Hayes, Chris Kreider, Oscar Lindberg, Jayson Megna, J.T. Miller, Dominic Moore, Rick Nash, Viktor Stalberg, Derek Stepan, Jarret Stoll, Mats Zuccarello
 
Defensemen (8): Dan Boyle, Raphael Diaz, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, Marc Staal, Keith Yandle
 
Goaltenders (2): Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Raanta

I would like to see Brady Skjei over McIlrath, Diaz and even Boyle!

Out of all the recent cuts, as the Rangers get down to 25 men (they have to get down to 23, and with two goalies, that means 21 skaters, usually broken down with 14 forwards and 7 defensemen) the two cut names that surprised me the most were Gibbons and Skjei.

I talked about in my last few blogs and on twitter @NYCTHEMIC, but let’s be honest – Dylan McIlrath is not playing on this team. The Rangers are simply too deep at defense and McIlrath is too much of a goon and offensively challenged to be on this veteran core. Whether the Rangers waive him or try to trade him are likely scenarios.

The other wild-card is Raphael Diaz. The Rangers know he will clear waivers. Is he really that good to keep for a year? I know the argument is to keep Skjei with the Pack and let him play every day, rather than being the 7th defenseman. But you only get better by playing with players who are better than you. If it doesn’t work out, you can always send him back to the Pack because it’s not like he will be playing major minutes, at least to start.

The twitter machine is also talking future scenarios and whether it’s worth breaking up McDonagh and Girardi as your number 1 pair. The argument is to put Yandle or Boyle with either guy, to help boost the offense from the D. Honestly, I wouldn’t touch it. I would leave McDonagh/Girardi together, because that is the heart of your team. I would put Staal and Yandle together, because they would complement each other, since Yandle has the potential to be the best scoring defensemen on this team since Leetch and Staal is your true defensemen’s defenseman. I would then throw Klein with Boyle and hope that Boyle and his disgusting contract doesn’t get caught flat-footed too much.

ZUUUUUUUUC!

How great was it to see Zucc perform so well the other night in Boston? It looked like nothing ever happened to him. As big fan of his (check out my blog in the archives, begging the Rangers to keep him at the trade deadline), I am glad to see him healthy and performing. Sure it’s preseason, but from what I saw, he looked the same to me.

I don’t know if anyone else watches the other preseason games around the league like I do, but the Oilers are looking fantastic and so does Cam Talbot. Ditto Carl Hagelin. You know I hated both of those trades. I get the Talbot deal, he has to get the opportunity to start somewhere else and no GM in this league is dumb enough to give a goalie 12% of their payroll, making Hank untradeable. However, Hagelin signed with the Ducks for only $4.5M. The Rangers could’ve kept him. I really hate that Hagelin is not here. I’m going to miss those Zucc/Hagelin videos on the Rangers app!

Emerson Etem, signed for less to replace Hagelin, hasn’t shown me much yet. In fact, some bloggers are talking about cutting Etem and Glass for Gibbons and Lindberg! Etem isn’t going anywhere. By cutting him, you make Sather look like a fucking senile idiot, and while he can do a good job of that himself at times, new GM Jeff Gorton isn’t going to do that to him. Plus you’re not going to cut bait on a guy who can play in the NHL, without giving him a chance to play some real NHL games. Worse comes to worse, you can always dump him mid-season and promote from with-in. He’s low risk.

Tanner Glass is an interesting character. The subject of much hatred from Rangers fans, Glass is on the bubble. It would surprise me if he’s cut, since I’m under the assumption he has pictures of Coach AV with Jared Fogel from Subway doing illegal activity, because there was no reason for him to be on the roster last year. Not at $1.5M. You were better off with the guys he replaced, Dorsett or Carcillo.

The only thing Glass brings to this team is that he’s the de facto enforcer for this team. However, this is a new NHL, where violence is toned down and you don’t need a fighter. Lawsuits, the Boogard death, etc, has made the NHL try to get away from the fighting. Sure, it happens, and sure we go nuts for it, but the NHL isn’t promoting that. You need that guy to protect your superstar, but as a fourth line guy, Glass isn’t worth keeping around and at especially that cap hit. I’d rather see Lindberg get the shot. If Lindberg makes the team, that means Hayes & Miller are officially wingers for the team, as would be Lindberg, as I see Stepan, Brassard, Stoll and Moore as your top four centers, in that order.

Why Rangers’ Kevin Hayes is struggling to find comfort zone

Hayes! Hayes! Hayes!

Kevin Hayes enters his sophomore season, and without controversy, as he has been backpage fodder for the NY tabloids. Coach AV has called him out in the press, expecting more offense from him. I don’t know if this is a motivational ploy or tactic, but we will see what happens as the season unfolds. I thought Hayes was wonderful as a rookie last year and has potential to really be a force for this team as his career matures.

As mentioned above, the biggest thing for Hayes, as AV is trying to get him into a comfort zone, is to get his position and stick with it. The Rangers had him bouncing all over the wing and playing center last season. With four true centers on the team now, and perhaps a fifth in the wings, Hayes should become a true bonafide winger for the club. Hayes also bounced around on many different lines last year, so getting regular line mates should help him out. I really liked the Miller/Hayes/Hagelin line last year, but alas, that is gone.

How many people are sick of this image on SeatGeek? How many people are sick of Rick Nash's lackluster performances in the playoffs?

How many people are sick of this image on SeatGeek? How many people are sick of Rick Nash’s lackluster performances in the playoffs?

When you have the nickname “Mr. October”, like Reggie Jackson does, it’s a nickname given out of respect, admiration and for a job well done. However, if you’re a hockey player like Rick Nash, being called “Mr. October” is an insult. However, the insult fits, as Rick Nash’s performance in the playoffs has been more like Alex Rodriguez and less of Reggie Jackson.

Nash had another great season last year, and at one point, was in the Hart running, but as soon as the weather warmed up and the snow was gone, so was Nash’s offense. Nash just watched Ovi and Tavares blow past him, statistically.  Nash, who is the second highest paid guy on the team, needs to perform that way, especially in the playoffs. With the absence of Martin St. Louis, due to retirement, Nash needs to be that veteran that leads by example.

The Rangers have announced that they won’t be adding another alternate captain, to replace the “A” that adorned MSL’s jersey. If I’m Rick Nash, I would be pissed. Enough of the complacency, stand the fuck up and show that locker room that you are a leader and a gamer, just like you were in Columbus.

Home

With two games left at MSG on the preseason docket, the Rangers should have their final roster announced by Thursday morning. As I mentioned in my other blog, I’m working 8 avenues away from MSG, so I’m planning on doing the old “wait-until-an-hour-before-the-game-and-get-great-seats-off-Stubhub-for-cheap” move. If I can get those sweet Delta Club tickets again, I’ll post a pictorial blog tomorrow night/Tuesday morning.

We’re 9 days away from the season opener and under two weeks for the home opener. This is the best time of the year, with football in full effect, baseball playoffs starting and the puck dropping. Hopefully, the heartbreak ends this season and the Rangers are hoisting the Cup in June.

LET’S GO RANGERS!

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter gimmick

 

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