New York Rangers 2015-2016 Regular Season Report Card: Grading Every Player On the Team. Plus: Looking At My NHL Predictions Before the Season Started

The Final Grades are in

What’s up everyone and welcome to another blog here on BlueCollarBlueShirts.com. As I currently type this blog up, the Islanders just laid down to the Flyers. As a result, the Rangers go to Pittsburgh. Lucky me, I got tickets for Games 3 & 4 at MSG. Hopefully, those aren’t the last two games of the Rangers season.

Once the playoff brackets are all set, I’ll do a Ranger first round preview and my bracket prediction. I predicted the Caps vs the Blackhawks at the beginning of the season, and it’s hard to waver from that. I hope the boys in blue can do it, but after 82 games played, I don’t, you don’t, the media doesn’t, the NHL doesn’t and most of all, Alain Vigneault doesn’t know what this team is about.

I feel less confident going into these playoffs than the last 3 seasons. The Rangers just played consistently inconsistent (Imagine if I had a nickel for every time I wrote that this season) all season long. You just don’t know what team will show up. To be honest with you, I can see the Rangers being swept out of the first round just as much as I can see the Rangers winning the Cup.

There is one thing I know about the playoffs for the Rangers. They will go only as far as Henrik Lundqvist takes them. Just look at the last few seasons. When he’s great, the Rangers move on and advance. When he plays below average or just average, they lose the series. We saw it in LA. We saw it in Tampa.

I didn’t do a Detroit/NYR review because I was sickened with the way the Rangers handled that game. I talked about it in the last two blogs here, located in the archives, on the right hand of the site, but the Rangers really needed to lose the game.

Yes, I saw the Marc Staal quote and yes, I know pros don’t lose on purpose. However, Hellberg should’ve been in net. More Wolfpack guys should’ve been brought up. The reins should’ve brought in more.

I’m not “scared” of the Penguins, but you are an idiot if you want to go through the Metropolitan division rather than the Atlantic division. I talked about that in my last blog, so you can find out my reasoning there.

Just think about that 2012 playoff exit to the Devils. The Rangers were so beat up by the time they got there, they had nothing left. I feel if by some miracle, the Rangers went through the Metro and beat the Pens & Caps, they would be shot by the time they got to the ECF.

Anyway, I was so frustrated with the way the Rangers mismanaged that game. Look at this crappy Islanders & Flyers game tonight. The scratch list couldn’t even fit on the scoreboard. With almost another potential injury yesterday to Eric Staal, I just don’t get why the Rangers had their guys go out at full boar. It’s all about the Cup, not a meaningless Game 82. The Isles know that. The Flyers know that. I just wish the Rangers knew that.

As a result of the Rangers mismanaging last night’s game, they now take the harder road. It is just something a veteran banged up team doesn’t need to do. I hope the Rangers prove me wrong and win the Cup, but 4 cups in 90 years makes you jaded.

I could die in peace if Lundqvist, McDonagh, Girardi & Stepan could pose like this.

As I said, my next blog will be the playoff preview. For today, I wanted to do my final grades, of course, my opinion only, on every Ranger during this 2015-2016 season. After the report card, I will revisit my NHL predictions that I wrote before the season started in October of 2015. Let’s see how smart I really am!

My quarter-season and All-Star Break report cards can be visited by clicking here.

What I’ve done, as usual, is copy & paste my quarter-season and All Star Break grades & comments. The quarter season & All Star Break comments & grades are in block quote. Underneath the quarter season & All Star Grades is the final 2015-2016 grade, in normal font/text.

Enjoy:

FORWARDS:

MATS ZUCCARELLO

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: A

Quarter Season Thoughts: Mats Zuccarello – A+

Just read the last few blogs here. The games where Zucc isn’t in control of the puck are the games the Rangers are losing. When Zucc has the puck, the Rangers are winning games. Away from the scoring aspect of his game, he is the most feistiest Ranger on the ice. He’s playing an excellent all-around game. You couldn’t ask for anything more.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Mats Zuccarello B-

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: After starting off as the hottest Ranger on the ice, Zuccarello has had games where he completely disappears. He still remains one of the biggest fan favorites on the team and for good reasons. In fact, I’ve been to many games this season where I see more Zucc jerseys than Lundqvist jerseys.

As one could expect, Zucc’s scoring production dipped a bit after his torrid start. The same criticism of Zucc throughout his Rangers career is the one I’ll bring up – he needs to shoot the puck more. Too often does he make the extra pass to nowhere. Zucc’s best success is when he crashes the net. Now if he can only do that every game and consistently.  Zucc remains one of the top scorers on the team and when he’s on his game, can turn a loss into a win for the Rangers.

Zuccarello, arguably the most popular Ranger today, and that includes Lundqvist, was the team point leader, finishing with 61 points. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. What it tells me, is that Rick Nash, getting paid $3M more than Zuccarello, under-performed again.

I’m a huge Zuccarello fan. I campaigned big time for him to stay here when there was trade talk at last year’s trade deadline. As I’ve said before, he’s that Derek Jeter or Justin Timberlake of the team. He’s a player that every male fan respects for his hard work and grittiness and a player that every female fan loves because of his looks. I been around many places this NHL season – Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Brooklyn, New Jersey, Philly, not to mention MSG about 40 times this season, and I’ll tell ya, I’ve seen more Zuccarello shirts & jerseys than Lundqvist. I even see some of the same faces I’ve seen over the years trade in their Messier & Leetch jerseys for Zucc jerseys. He’s just that damn popular. And he’s good too.

Zucc, the winner of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort award this season, had another strong year at the Garden. The biggest negatives you can say about him is that he over passes and doesn’t shoot as much as he should. That said, you can’t question his heart, his ability and drive every shift he’s out there.

I’m sure I’m not the only one – “What if Zuccarello doesn’t get hurt in round 1 of last year’s playoffs?”


 

RICK NASH

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: C-

Quarter Season Thoughts: Rick Nash – B

Rick Nash will always be a mystery wrapped up in a riddle for the Rangers. Ranger fans want to cheer for him, but at times, he gives them no reason to. He’s one of the few Rangers who is not afraid to shoot. When he gets it all together, he can dominate and change a game. You look at his salary and it makes you mad a bit. The Rangers need the Rick Nash that played in Columbus, not the one that shows up every few nights like a nostalgia act. He’s not playing bad either, and usually leads the team in the Shots on Goal department each game, but he needs to be consistent in the putting the puck in the back of the net stat. He’s quietly (Due to scoring multiple goals in games) tied for second on the team with 8 goals. In reality, Nash won’t be judged on what happens in the regular season anyway. It’s something to talk about now, but the only thing that his Ranger career will be judged on is what happens in the playoffs.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Rick Nash – B

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: What I wrote at the quarter mark of the season is basically what I could copy and paste and leave it at that. Bottom line, Nash is playing well. He drives to the net. Usually leads the team in shots. Creates the most chances.  What he doesn’t do is score goals, which is maddening.

Usually, Nash has a good regular season, production wise, then disappears in the playoffs. While he’s playing good hockey, he’s not scoring. When you’re paid $7.8M a year, that’s not enough. If Nash was a guy making $3.5M a year, you would say he’s playing great and out of this world. However, when you look at Nash’s peers, contract wise, like Ovechkin, Malkin, Perry, Kane, etc, Nash can’t even sniff their jocks.

As I wrote at the quarter-mark, even if Nash doesn’t score another goal in the regular season, but lights it up in the playoffs, no one will give a crap about how poor he played, production wise, during the regular season.

As of this writing, Nash has missed the last two games with a bone bruise. He is expected back after the break. The Rangers need him out there.

This is the harshest I’ve ever been on Rick Nash during his Rangers tenure. I know he was injured, I know he battled concussions before, but it comes to a point where you say, at $7.8M a season, 15 goals is unacceptable.

We all know how much I kill Lundqvist for his contract, but make no bones about it – Rick Nash possesses the worst contract on the team. At least Lundqvist shows up in the playoffs,  the majority of the time. Nash, had a ghost season and I’m sure he will be his normal self in the playoffs.

Stop me if you’ve seen this before – Rick Nash on a breakaway, he skates, he makes a move and wow, the puck is no where close to the back of the net. Nash is judged harder because he gets paid like an Ovi, like a Kane, like a Perry. No more excuses. He’s gotta score. He’s not being paid for third or fourth line production.

If you want to look for the positives, he is skating to the net and usually leads the team with shots on goal. However, he is being paid to score goals, not just flip it up to the goalie. Nash has been a BUST this season.


DERRICK BRASSARD

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: A-

Quarter Season Thoughts: Derrick Brassard – B

Brassard has improved his faceoff game and has been another key contributor in the Rangers top line. The common knock on him is always the same – SHOOT THE PUCK! Too many times this season has Brassard, like most of these Rangers, opted to make the extra pass, which turns into a turnover, rather than just blasting away. Look at it this way, most of the time, these extra passes go nowhere. Even if the goalies stop your slapper, there’s a chance for a rebound or a deflection. Look at how McDonagh has been doing with his bomb. He’s produced a few goals off his stick, and has assisted on a few too. Brassard has been consistent, as he has been his entire Ranger run.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Derrick Brassard – B

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: Just like Nash, what I wrote for Brassard several months ago, reapplies here. Brassard is capable of stealing games and having multi-point games. He’s also capable of having games where you didn’t even know he put on his skates. Brassard closed out his final game before the break with a 2 goal game.  While you know you’re not going to get 4-5 point games every night out of Brassard, you want to see him take his shots and not overplay the puck. The extra pass has to stop.

To me at least, very quietly, Brassard wound up leading the team in scoring with 27 goals and finished second in points with 58. He turned it on later in the season and looked to feel more comfortable shooting the puck. Brassard is a player the Rangers will need to deliver in the playoffs. While I thought he started a bit slow, Brassard finished off strong and was one of the Ranger go-to guys.


 

DEREK STEPAN

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: B+

Quarter Season Thoughts: Derek Stepan- A-

Stepan has also been consistent at center. We are still awaiting the fate of Stepan, and I’ll talk more about him in the section below. Stepan has been producing nicely on offense. As a member of the PP and PK, the Rangers are really going to miss his stick on the ice. Hopefully he gets back soon. Don’t forget, this is the man who played with a broken jaw in the playoffs two years ago. He is one tough son of a bitch.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Derek Stepan- B-

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: Stepan missed some games after a dirty hit in Boston from Marchand. Stepan, like his fellow centerman, Brassard, is capable of stealing games too, and is also just as capable of disappearing.  This off-season, Stepan asked and got the big money. When you look at his peers around the league, you expect more goals from Stepan. Stepan also has had a rough go of it lately, as it seems he’s constantly getting injured, which is because of the way he puts his body on the line in every game. The Rangers need him healthy for this stretch and into the playoffs.

Stepan finished the season with being third on the team in goals (22) and points (53).  Like Brassard, he got better as the season went along. He seems to have slowly declined in faceoffs this season, but his top line has been unstoppable when he gets going offensively. With Ryan McDonagh out for possibly the first round, the Rangers will need Stepan to stand up and be more assertive on the ice.


 

KEVIN HAYES

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: C

Quarter Season Thoughts: Kevin Hayes – C-

Sophomore jinx? Whatever it is, Hayes, who does have a few goals this season, is not playing up to his potential. Sometimes I want to strangle him and not just because he’s a Red Sox fan! What drives me nuts about Hayes is that he will not shoot the puck. I’ve been to about 10-12 games this season and it’s the same shit every time. I’ve seen him pass while being the lead man on a breakaway. I’ve seen him wide open in front of the net and pass behind him. He’s always moving the puck backwards. AV needs to tell him to be a puck-hog or something. Maybe it’s because he’s one of the younger guys on the team, and prefers to defer, but he has raw talent and he needs to show it.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Kevin Hayes- F

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: With Etem gone, you can make the case that Kevin Hayes is the worst player on the team. He’s a turnover machine. Several times this year, with a wide open net, Hayes has either airmailed it, shot it like Blair Walsh kicking a field goal to win a game or wiffs at it. He’s skated with his head down a lot this season, which has opened himself up to take big hits and turnover the puck more frequently.

Hayes was a healthy scratch for two games during the season due to his horrible play. For a guy in a contract year, Hayes is doing nothing to help himself. Once thought to be the future of this team, Hayes is playing like he deserves to be challenging for a spot on the Wolfpack roster.

Something has to give with Hayes. The Rangers have been and are in  “win-now” mode. The Rangers can ill-afford someone currently playing like Hayes in the line-up come the playoffs. Let’s hope Hayes can turn his unlucky 13 jersey into something, because he’s playing the worst hockey of his career.

Hayes got better as the season went along, but I question his maturity.

A BlueCollarBlueShirts.com reader sent this picture of Hayes to me. This is Hayes after the Redwings game.

I will never get on someone for drinking. If I did, I would be the biggest hypocrite in the world. However, I got this picture last night and I’ve seen other people post pictures of Kevin Hayes out and about on the town. I get it. I’m not against drinking and blowing steam off. I drink a ton of beer, I don’t think that’s up for debate if you know me! However, I don’t drink a ton of beer if I got work the next day, at work, or got something important going on. Hayes has something important going on. There were pictures all over twitter last night of Hayes bombed. I guess the playoffs won’t start for a few more days, and I get it, I truly do, but Hayes has to be smarter than this.

Hayes is not at the level where he can pull a Theo Fleury, a Brian Leetch or any Canadian for that matter, and drink a ton of beer and show up on the ice the next morning. After an impressive rookie season, he slumped a bit this year. He was benched. His production isn’t where it needs to be. Hayes needs to wake up.


 

CHRIS KREIDER

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: B

Quarter Season Thoughts: Chris Kreider – C+

Someone put out an APB on Kreider. Sure, he has few tallies this season, but man, we are all still waiting for the real CK to show up. Many paid writers, NHL scouts and the Rangers themselves had CK having a breakthrough season. CK is in a contract year and he’s doing nothing to show the Rangers why he should get Zucc or even Stepan money right now. I think he’ll put it all together eventually, but with 1/4 of the season over, you hope it comes sooner than later.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Chris Kreider – C+

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: His “Mom’s Trip” weekend games aside, Kreider has had a horrible season.  He’s not scoring. He’s loose with the puck. He isn’t even the same agitator he used to be. However, at the time of this writing, Kreider started to turn the corner a bit. Let’s hope that corner is turned all the way and Kreider streaks into the playoffs. It’s been a rough season, thus far for Kreider.

Kreider, like Brassard & Stepan, played his best hockey after the All-Star Break. In a contract year, many people, myself included, thought he would at least have 30 goals, if not 40. He finished with 21. He’s gonna get paid somewhere next year and if he has a good playoffs, he will be paid even more.  Many times this season, based on his history, I thought he would turn it up. I predicted a 3 point game against Tortorella’s Jacket’s. He wound up with a goal and an assist. He needs to turn it up every game.


 

OSCAR LINDBERG

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: C-

Quarter Season Thoughts: Oscar Lindberg – A

The rookie is making a case for the Calder Trophy, especially with Conor McDavid being injured. Oscar, playing on the third line, is tied with Nash for the most goals on the team, with 8. (Zucc leads the team with 10.) He’s had a few defensive lapses, but for a rookie, Oscar is playing well beyond anyone’s expectations.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Oscar Lindberg – B

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: At one point in the season, Lindberg was a legit candidate for the Calder. While he’s not that anymore, Lindberg has proven himself as a true NHLer. I guess it was tough to expect Lindberg to keep scoring the way he was to start the season, but it has been pleasant to see him play well and hold his own every game.  Lindberg has been a welcome addition to this team.

As the season went along, Lindberg became the odd-man out. Once the Rangers traded for Eric Staal, Lindberg saw his playing time decrease. When the fourth line of Glass/Moore/Stalberg got hot, Lindberg became the regular healthy scratch. I don’t know if he plays in the playoffs, barring injury. I don’t think he suits up for Game 1. Lindberg showed glimpses of being a stud early this season, but his play regressed as the season went along. Let’s hope he’s not a flash in the pan, and just the odd rookie out on a veteran WIN NOW team.


 

JT MILLER

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: B+

Quarter Season Thoughts: JT Miller – C-

Miller is slumping as of late. Miller, who does have four goals, has been a horror show in the turnover department and just being beat by his man. I think he misses Carl Hagelin at times (we all do), as Hagelin’s speed helped out Miller when they were on the same line. He needs to tighten up big time.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: JT Miller – B

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: Just like Kreider, JT Miller has gotten hot lately. The sweet sounds of “MILLER TIME”, you know, that sound the puck makes when it crosses the goal line, has been heard often lately. As Miller started to score goals, you can see his confidence grew too. He’s comfortable with his game. He’s shooting more. He’s passing better. He’s driving to the net more. It might be Miller, not Kreider or Hayes, that gets the biggest contract from the Rangers, come the off-season.

For a period of time, Miller was the best Ranger on the team. If he can find the level of production he had for a period in January, the Rangers will have no problem advancing in the playoffs. Miller finished the season with 22 goals, tied for third best on the team. Not bad for a guy getting a full season’s worth of work, to outscore all the millionaires on the team. The future is bright for MR. MILLER TIME.


 

VIKTOR STALBERG

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: B

Quarter Season Thoughts: Viktor Stalberg – C

Stalberg seems just there to me. He’s not playing bad and he’s not playing great either. He’s a grinder and doing his job well. At the same time, he’s expendable. It would be nice to see more production, offensively, out of him.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Viktor Stalberg – B-

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: While I do think Stalberg is an extra body that could easily be replaced on this team, he’s been playing better as the season moved along. He’s only had one horrible game this season, but has had 5-6 really good ones. For the Rangers, his goals have come at big moments in games, as opposed to Rick Nash and his empty netter or blowout game “A-Rod” goals. You would just like to see Stalberg shoot a bit more.

Stalberg is another Ranger that picked it up once the All-Star Break passed. In fact, you can argue he’s part of the hottest line on the team right now. He has really featured his wheels and nose for the puck during the last 10 game stretch of the regular season. He has pleasantly surprised me. It would’ve been nice to see him finish with more than 9 goals, but he has been a team player.


 

DOMINIC MOORE

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: B

Quarter Season Thoughts: Dominic Moore – C

Moore, a fan favorite, and who will ever forget his series ending goal against the Canadiens two years ago, has regressed a bit. One of the better Rangers on the draw, the Rangers are getting solid ice time out of Moore. Like Boyle, we’ve seen Moore scratched a few times. I would expect to see Moore scratched more often as the regular season starts winding up. The Rangers want one of their elder players ready for the playoff run.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Dominic Moore B-

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: Moore is playing decent this season. While his production numbers have slipped, Moore is doing well at the dot and has played good defense too. Rarely do you see Moore cough up a bad turnover. He’s executing his job well, as the Rangers 4th line/grinder/kill time centerman.

Like Stalberg, Moore has been part of the hottest line on the team. He was in AV’s doghouse for a bit, but played himself out of it. Moore is getting older and realizes the time is ticking on this team for a cup. Let’s hope he continues his strong play into the playoffs. What really impresses me is that even against better players, Moore will battle every loose puck on the ice.


 

JESPER FAST

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: B

Quarter Season Thoughts: Jesper Fast – C

Jesper Fast came on strong last year and has shown glimpses of his game at a top level this season. However, he’s still a young guy, perhaps learning on the job too much, as he’s made some costly turnovers and has had some pretty bad defensive lapses. With only 3 goals and the lowest plus/minus (1) on the team, Fast needs to improve.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Jesper Fast – B-

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: Fast has improved offensively and has been passing the puck well.  While not playing as well as one of his counterparts, JT Miller, Fast is coming into his own. Can he become a big time points producer? Jury is out on that.

Fast was a strong candidate for the Steven McDonald award. In fact, he won the team’s “Player’s Player” award. For a young guy, on a team full of paid veterans, that’s a major compliment. He’s well liked, scores goals and plays hard.  I know the window may be closing on these current Rangers, but players like Fast, Miller, McIlrath & Skjei makes me think a possible rebuild won’t take too long.


 

Embedded image permalink

Tanner “F’N” Glass

TANNER GLASS

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: B+

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Tanner Glass – B+

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: Glass, who spent the majority of the season with the Wolfpack, until injuries to the main roster, has reclaimed his spot on the fourth line. His production made the worthless Emerson Etem even more expendable.

Glass rejoined the team just in time for the first game with the Islanders. Glass picked a fight with anyone and defended his teammates. While Glass will never score, we are starting to see the player AV sees and knows on a daily basis. We always heard Glass was great for the locker room. While his grade might be high, it’s because of the jolt he gave the team and how he’s performing in his role as a fourth line winger.

What a turn around for Tanner Glass from last season. The guy scored one goal last year, was a complete lug and did nothing in the playoffs. He gets cut in the beginning of the season, comes back for a game against the Islanders and kicked some ass. He scored a bunch of goals this year. He fought when the team needed him to, especially against the Flyers after the dirty Simmonds play. We’ve always known AV loves him and we finally got to see why this season. I mean if Glass is back next season, can you really be mad? I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Glass was one of the better Rangers this season, in performing his job duties. GLASS 3:16 all the way!


 

THE DEPARTED:

Quarter Season Thoughts: Emerson Etem – F

What a fucking waste. When you see me go apeshit about player contracts, especially Hank’s deal that puts the Rangers in cap hell until it expires, it’s because of guys like Etem. Etem does not belong on this team. Carl Hagelin does. Etem was described as a poor man’s Carl Hagelin when he got here. He’s not even a poor man’s 2014-2015 Emerson Etem right now. Hate to say it, but I would rather have Tanner Glass than Etem as the guy who’s usually a healthy scratch. I think Glass gives you more punch than the minimal production we’ve seen out of Etem thus far.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Emerson Etem –  F————————————————

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: Goodbye and good riddance. I’ve wasted enough time on this site (Check the archives, located on the right hand side of the site) talking about Etem and how the Rangers fucked up trading Hagelin.

Quarter Season Thoughts: Jarrett Stoll – C

Busted with cocaine prior to this season, maybe Stoll could use a toot to get his game going. Or maybe he’s having constant sex with his girlfriend, Erin Andrews. That would explain why he looks so tired and flat-footed at times.  The Rangers have enough guys who are interchangeable. it would be nice to see Stoll take advantage of this contract and parlay it into bigger and better things. It would benefit himself and the team nicely.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Jarrett Stoll – F

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: Stoll and the Rangers never worked out. It seemed the game had passed him by a bit. Brought in for faceoffs, he wasn’t even dominating in that department. The Rangers have many centers on the roster and on the Wolfpack that are simply just better. That said, I expect Stoll to put up a hat-trick against the Rangers whenever the Wild come in town.


NEW ADDITION:

ERIC STAAL

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: iNC

Tough to judge Eric Staal over the limited amount of games played. He didn’t get many practices in with the team and jumped on the team cold. He’s not playing with the best players, as he’s been a third liner too. With his contract, he’s a rental. I don’t know if he was the best move for the Rangers at the deadline, but it was the move that was made. I still would’ve preferred Cam Atkinson from Columbus. And oh – please save me the Staal is a point-per-game player in the playoffs. When was the last time Carolina was in the playoffs? When he was 26? That said, I hope he steps up big time for the team.


“The Undertaker” Dylan McIlrath has been burying pucks and bodies this season!

DEFENSEMEN:

 

RYAN MCDONAGH

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: A-

 

Quarter Season Thoughts: Ryan McDonagh – B+

Ryan has really stepped up his offensive game and on pace to score the most amount of goals in his career. He’s always reliable when it comes to shutting down the other team. So why not the A? The Captain, too many times this season, has made a bad turnover that has turned into a breakaway the other way. His snafu in Tampa cost the Rangers at least the overtime point. Mac just needs to be more protective of the puck.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Ryan McDonagh – A-

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: McDonagh continues to have one of his best offensive seasons of his career. Norris candidate? You can talk about him, but Klingberg of Dallas looks to have that wrapped up. I really have no issues with Mac’s play on the ice. You can talk turnovers, but turnovers are going to happen at this level since every team has great players.

The one thing I wonder is how he is in the locker room. One of the youngest Rangers captains ever, I wonder what he said during the the last 6 weeks of this Rangers slide. This is where the Rangers miss a Martin St. Louis, who Mac could’ve turned to for advice. We know Mark Messier would go nuts and would speak out in the media when the Rangers played like shit. I would like to see Mac openly be more assertive.

McDonagh was the best Rangers defenseman all year, as expected. His injury is a tough pill to swallow. McDonagh has been great shutting down Crosby & Ovi over the years in the playoffs. It’s why I was hoping the Rangers would draw the Panthers. McDonagh has dished out friendly fire on his own team, as well as received it. Going into the playoffs, I’m nervous not to have the Captain on the ice. Another strong season for Mac Truck. I wonder what Canadien fans think when they see him play!


DAN GIRARDI

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: C+

Quarter Season Thoughts: Dan Girardi – B-

One of the warriors on the Rangers, Dan has been blocking shots like Dikemebe Mutombo. You would like to see more out of him offensively. Like McDonagh, Dan needs to be more aware, especially when it comes to passing the puck. Girardi started off slow, lost his top pairing spot but has since come on stronger to regain the job back. I do agree with the majority though – he’s overpaid.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Dan Girardi C+

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: Girardi has led the Rangers in turnovers this season. Angry memories of Alex Martinez in Game 5 come to mind.  He’s been bumped around from the first pair to the second pair this season. Girardi & McDonagh go together like peanut butter and jelly, but sometimes, even jelly turns over and gets stale. With a gi-normous contract, Girardi has created alot of detractors within the Rangers fanbase. He won’t be traded, because he has a no-move clause and really, who would take his contract? Girardi is a great defender but needs to be better with the puck, ASAP.

An up and down season for the iron man of the Rangers. He got a ton of hate from a lot of Ranger fans because of his defensive liabilities. For me, it’s tough to be sour on him, because he plays so hard and will dive in front of any puck, but his shoddy defense, at times, has translated into a goal for the other team, many times this season. He was even bumped down to the second D pair as the season went along. Girardi took a bad hit late in the season, but according to reports, should be ok for the playoffs. The Rangers will need him.


 

KEVIN KLEIN

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: A-

Quarter Season Thoughts: Kevin Klein – A-

It might be unpopular to say, but Klein may be the best defenseman on the team right now. He has played a strong defensive game and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen him prevent goals this season. Klein contributes to the offense and played so well, that he took Girardi’s job for a bit there. He won’t get any Norris mentions, but he is one of the most underrated defensemen in the entire NHL

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Kevin Klein – B+

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: Klein hasn’t played bad, but he hasn’t been as productive as he once was. Klein has battled several injuries this season.  Klein is one of the unsung heroes of the Rangers. Just like Marc Staal, you don’t talk about him much after games, as say you do about Dan Girardi, because he’s doing his job. Klein has been better offensively, and you would like to see that return.

Senile Slats has made many bad moves during his tenure as Rangers GM, but one of the best moves he made in the salary cap era was trading Del Zaster for Klein. Klein was promoted to the top D pair, with McDonagh, as the season went along. It was a move a long time in the making. While bumping Girardi is akin to putting Jeter in the 8th spot in the batting order, Klein earned it and had another strong season for the Rangers.


 

Marc Staal

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: C+

Quarter Season Thoughts: Marc Staal – B-

I feel every time I write about Staal, it’s the same thing. He’s overpaid too, because he is just a defensemen’s defenseman. You get no offense out of him. At the same time, you’re not screaming out his name, because he is barely beat nor making turnovers. He’s one of the best defenders in the league and he’s not going to change his game now, but it would be nice to see him accumulate some points.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Marc Staal B-

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: You know what you’re gonna get from Staal every game. Rinse, wash, repeat. Everything I said at the quarter season mark applies here as well. He makes too much money for just being a second pair lockdown defender with no offensive output.

If you wanna judge Staal based on his contract alone, he’s an F. His defense has regressed this season and his contract is an albatross. He can shut down guys when he’s on, but he was burnt for many goals this season. The Rangers, without McDonagh, will need the Staal of old come playoff time, especially with Crosby.


 

KEITH YANDLE

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: A

Quarter Season Thoughts: Keith Yandle – B-

I may have some personal bias against Yandle, because I will never forgive Sather for that horrible trade to bring Yandle here! Think the Rangers could use Duclair’s offense right now? Yandle is playing solidly, but for a guy who was brought here to be the best scoring defenseman the Rangers have ever had since Brian Leetch, well I’m not seeing it. Yandle hasn’t been awful, but he hasn’t been amazing either. I would like to see him, like most of these guys, shoot the puck more, rather than seeing the eye color of the goalie before taking a shot.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Keith Yandle B+

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: I’ve talked about Yandle a lot in these blogs. I’m going to lose my fucking shit when the Rangers trade him for next to nothing because Yandle will be a UFA at the end of the season.  DUCLAIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Horrible trade aside, Yandle is playing great, but like everyone else asks, why is he on the third pair sometimes? Why is he on the second PP unit? Is it worth trying two left hand sticks on the first unit and pair Yandle with Mac? For what the Rangers gave up for Yandle, I would hate to see him go, unless the Rangers can somehow pull out Stamkos out of their ass. Remember, Dan Boyle will be gone after this season and the Rangers could keep Yandle here, if Yandle wants to stay for a likely rebuild.

Keith Yandle ended the season as the top assist man, with 42 assists. If the Rangers let him walk after this season, it will be a bigger mistake than letting Stralman go, two seasons ago. In his first full season as a Ranger, Yandle delivered. I still think you didn’t need to trade Duclair for him. Duclair had a great year in Arizona. If Yandle goes after this season, Sather should be kicked in the nuts.


 

DAN BOYLE

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: C

Quarter Season Thoughts: Dan Boyle – C+

I have still never understood why Senile Sather let Anton Stralman walk, to sign Dan Boyle for the same amount of money. The deal on Boyle thus far is simple – he’s not the Dan Boyle of his prime. However, is the 2015 version of Dan Boyle better than the 2015 version of Dylan McIlrath? It’s a tough question to answer. Boyle still shows you flashes of offensive brilliance, but also shows you what a liability he can be on defense on the next play. Boyle, who has been scratched in favor of McIlrath, is most likely sitting because the Rangers want old man Boyle ready for the playoffs. Boyle & McIlrath are so different, that against a smaller team, you may prefer Boyle’s offense, but against a bigger team, you may want McIlrath and those fists out there.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Dan Boyle – B-

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: As I’ve said for a while, I think Boyle should be moved to a forward and let McIlrath play on D every day. Boyle’s offense is good, but still, I don’t know if Dan Boyle, right now, is better than McIlrath, even on Boyle’s best day. We all know the story on Boyle and there are games where he is good and there are some games where you get so mad, that you are pulling the hair out of your ass.

A complete liability when he’s on the ice, at least Boyle scored 10 goals this season, 5 less than the $7.8M first line forward Rick Nash. I will still never comprehend why Senile Sather let Stralman walk only to give Boyle the same money. His defense is atrocious. He can score, but at what risk?


 

Quarter Season Thoughts: Dylan McIlrath – C+

Dylan would’ve flourished in the old days of hockey. Let’s face it, he’s a goon. However, he’s trying hard to shed the goon label, as he’s been working with former Rangers great, Jeff Beukeboom on his game. He’s better than he was, that’s for sure. He has been beaten to the puck routinely by the opposition and is still looking for his first NHL point. However, he’s not there to score. The way he defended Stepan is the reason why he’s on the ice. The best is yet to come for the man they call “The Undertaker”, but do you want Boyle on the bench in the playoffs?

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Dylan McIlrath – B

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: McIlrath got a lot of playing time when Klein went down with an injury. With two goals in limited time, he’s the best he’s ever been offensively. You can see some teams don’t get nasty or play dirty when McIlrath is out there. I think he should be starting every game, but I’m not AV.

DYLAN MCILRATH

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: B-

Dylan showed improvements during his in-and-out stints with the team this season. He has gotten better offensively. With Boyle likely retiring after this season, I feel safe with Dylan on the team full-time. Will he play in the playoffs? Probably, in light of the McDonagh injury. Best case scenario, he punches Crosby’s lights out. Is he better than Boyle now? Up for debate. He gets bonus points with me for going after Simmonds on Valentine’s Day.


 

 

Raanta has been good, but Talbot was better!

GOALIES:

HENRIK LUNDQVIST

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: B

Quarter Season Thoughts: Henrik Lundqvist – A

Depending on how you enjoy hockey, along with Mats Zuccarello, he’s one of the Rangers MVP candidates this season. He’s off to the best start of his career. Everyone knows the positives about Hank. Two things though I have to say. He needs to stay in the net. Enough with the coming out and making these horrendous passes that become turnovers. Hank is a classic butterfly goalie, not Martin Brodeur. The other thing is for a guy called “King”, he has let down his country in crunch time. A few of the Rangers minimal losses this season have come late into the third period (Tampa & Boston come into mind), via bad goals.  He’s still one of the top 3 goalies in the league, but due to his contract and body of work, the expectations are high for Hank.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Henrik Lundqvist – B-

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: I’ve talked about Lundqvist so much on this blog. That’s an easy archive search for sure! The skinny: Lundqvist dominated the start of the season and looked like he was in his 2012 Vezina form. However, after 25 games, Lundqvist shat the bed and was completely awful. There was even a stretch where he was benched/pulled 4 times in 7 games. However, Lundqvist rebounded and has played well in the last two weeks. For the money he’s paid, Lundqvist can’t afford to have bad games. The Rangers built this team around his contract so it’s up to him to be great every night.

Lundqvist is currently ranked 20th or worse in total goals allowed, GAA and save percentage. Hardly regal. Will the faux King ever get his crown? I hope so. He deserves it.

You know my rant on Lunqvist. Simply put, for the money paid, he’s not worth it. He’s not even in Vezina contention, which makes him really overpaid. He was the Rangers MVP of the season, which tells you how this season went for the Rangers, offensively. He was pulled 8 times this year, as opposed to 7 times over the last 4 years. To quote WWE announcer Michael Cole, Lundqvist will need to be “VINTAGE” Lundqvist, for the Rangers to do anything in the playoffs. Will the King get his crown or will he blame everyone else after another Cupless season?


 

ANTTI RAANTA

2015-2016 Regular Season Final Grade: A

Quarter Season Thoughts: Antti Raanta – A

The Rangers have hit a nice stretch when it comes to back-up goalies ever since Biron retired. Talbot had better numbers than Hank last year, and led the team to the President’s Trophy. Skapski was unbeatable last year. Now here’s Raanta, who has been lights out. With a 4-1 record, Raanta has been more than advertised. His one loss vs Philly wasn’t his fault, as the Rangers not only shit the bed, they shit on the mattress, the box spring, the curtains and everywhere else in the room. You couldn’t ask for anything more from 32. The Rangers will need Raanta to keep this up as the season goes on, as the goal is to have Lundqvist 100% for the playoffs.

ALL STAR BREAK GRADE: Antii Raanta

ALL STAR BREAK THOUGHTS: B+

Raanta played more games in the first quarter of the season then he did in the second quarter of the season. Part of that was because the Rangers had days off in-between games and because the Rangers lost so many games that they wanted their best option in net, even if Hank should’ve had a breather.  Raanta suffered an injury, a concussion, right before the X-mas break but was back for the New Year. I don’t think Raanta can be a starting goalie in the NHL, like last year’s back-up the incredible future Vezina Cam Talbot, but he’s playing good hockey. I will give that Senile Sather some credit, ever since Biron retired, he’s found a great back-up for Hank.

Raanta, no Talbot in my opinion, was a huge stopper for the Rangers this season. Every time the Rangers had a losing streak, Raanta stepped in and got 1 or 2 points. Raanta had multiple 35+ save games and perhaps had some GM’s interested in calling the Rangers for a starting goalie after this season. Raanta was more than a suitable back-up goalie for the Rangers this year.


I’ll be doing a lot of Sharting during the Rangers playoff run

The playoff bracket and playoff preview blog is to come. Just can’t get my mind off on how bad the Islanders tanked tonight. If the NHL Player Safety commission was a real thing, they would bench and investigate every guy scratched tonight, akin to how the NHL doesn’t allow players to play the first game after the All-Star break if they sit out the ASG. Then again, this is a league that has Bettman as a commissioner and allowed Derek Boogard (RIP, read the book) to play after failing multiple drug & concussion tests. Good job NHL!

Anyway, just wanted to go back over my predictions from the beginning of the season and see how I fared.

Here’s what I predicted in October of 2015:

METRO DIVISION:

Capitals

Penguins

Rangers

Islanders

Bluejackets

Devils

Flyers

Carolina

ATLANTIC DIVISION:

Lightning

Canadiens

Senators

Maple Leafs

Red Wings

Panthers

Sabres

Bruins

CENTRAL DIVISION:

Blues

Blackhawks

Predators

Wild

Avalache

Stars

Jets

PACIFIC DIVISION:

Ducks

Kings

Flames

Oilers

Sharks

Coyotes

Canucks

Eastern Conference Finals

Rangers vs Capitals

Western Conference Finals

Blackhawks vs Kings

Stanley Cup Finals

Capitals over Blackhawks

RANGER PREDICTIONS:

MVP: Henrik Lundqvist

Top Goal Scorer: Chris Kreider

Point Leader: Derek Stepan

Traded by Deadline: Tanner Glass

I nailed the Metropolitan division, at least the top 4 teams. Islanders and Rangers should’ve been switched in the standings, but the Isles decided to forfeit tonight. I’m shocked by Columbus, I really thought they would’ve had a better year. Instead, Tortorella was hired mid-season to turn around a team that had the worst start in the NHL.

Over in the Atlantic, my prediction went to shit once Carey Price went down. I underrated the young Panthers team, even with the addition of Jagr. I totally shit the bed by overrating the Leafs & Sentators, but hey, at least I was right about Boston not making the playoffs!

In the Central, I totally fucked up when it came to Dallas. I still got the other playoff teams right, with the Blues, Hawks, Predators and Wild. I don’t deserve a medal though for that, I think most would’ve had those teams going in.

When it comes to the Pacific, I had the top two teams right, and in order. I thought the Flames would be better with Johnny Hockey there. Totally slept on the Sharks. Just thought their run of weak playoff runs were done for this season.

While I nailed the top teams and seeds, I also came up short on the other spectrum. I thought Toronto would’ve had a better year with Babcock running the bench. I thought the Oilers would be better. Instead, the two teams finished the worst in their conference. In Toronto’s case, they just fell apart. For the Oilers, they were banged by injuries all year, none bigger than the injury to Connor McDavid. Call me crazy, but I think both teams make the playoffs next season. We’ll see.

As far as my Cup predictions, I’ve been bringing it up all year. I still see the Caps vs Hawks as your Cup Final. As much as I want the Rangers to do it, without bias, it’s hard to dismiss the season the Caps had and how well the Hawks have fared in the playoffs. I hope I’m wrong, I truly do.

On the Ranger prediction front, I nailed Lundqvist as team MVP.  Stepan was the third point getter. Kreider was a top 5 goal scorer, but had a disappointing season. Glass was sent to the Wolfpack, but because Emerson Etem sucked so much, wound up playing and had a great season for himself in the process.

Here we go again.

I’ll be back before Wednesday with a playoff preview. I can’t lie, I’m not too optimistic with this series. I really don’t want to say “I told you so”, when the Islanders fly by the Panthers and the Rangers are bounced out in the first round. Save me the “real fan” shit, there’s one thing to be realistic, another to be optimistic. I’m hoping the Rangers win, but I won’t hold my breath. Potentially drawing the Caps in the second round doesn’t make this any easier.

Would it shock anyone if Carl Hagelin doesn’t come back to bite the Rangers in the ass?

Best case scenario, the Rangers go on a 2014 run. Worst case scenario, they play like they’ve been playing all season.

In either event, I’ll be back soon.

Until then…

LET’S GO RANGERS

Sean McCaffrey

BULLSMC@aol.com

@NYCTHEMIC on the tweet tweet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *