Game 41: NYR-AZ, Friday recap, team issues, trade speculation, WJC
The Rangers were never in the game against Colorado. The early and continuous parade to the penalty box - 10 penalties for 19 shorthanded minutes, or almost a third of the contest - removed any flow to the game for New York. That along with the struggles on the penalty kill doomed the Blueshirts. Arizona has lost three straight, but seeing how Colorado had come in off six straight defeats and demolished the Rangers, throw that current streak out the window.
Kevin Hayes missed Friday's game due to lingering issues from slamming into wall late in regulation vs. the Coyotes on December 14. Those issues has forced Hayes to miss many practices in interim for maintenance. While coach David Quinn is confident it is a "day to day" situation, Hayes didn't practice Saturday and is likely out tonight and quote possibly Tuesday against Las Vegas. in his absence, Filip Chytil moved into middle of second line with Vladislav Namestnikov and Mats Zuccarello while Jimmy Vesey, scratched the prior game, was back in the lineup.
The Rangers lines Friday, which might be the case again today, were:
The defense was the same as Wednesday's debacle against Pittsburgh:
David Quinn Post-Game:
A few thoughts:
1) Chytil - moving him back to center made sense, despite the poor performance of the team overall. If that is to be his future position - a decision yet to be formally made - then giving him playing time at the pivot is a wise course of action. Do you think the Rangers missed Hayes? Keep that in mind when considering whether or not New York should resign him.
2) Penalty kill - or lack thereof. Remember when New York was solid shorthanded? That seems like it was ages ago and is a foreign concept. The Rangers' penalty kill has allowed 15 PPGs against in 54 times short-handed (72.2 percent) over their past 14 games. The club has gone 8-for-35 (22.9) with the man-advantage over the same period. First, allowing a 27.8 scoring rate is dangerous for any time. But for a squad struggling to score and with a material variance between goals and chances for on the power play, it's a major recipe for disaster. I am unsure if it's the scheme, personnel or both, but whatever the reason, this is a major area of concern.
3) Shots against - Outshot 47-25 but it was 33-10 after 2 periods and 16-3 after one. When the period ended, the Rangers had been outshot 16-3, out-attempted 27-4 overall and 10-2 at five-on-five. Ugly numbers further indicating that the game was never really a game. Once New York got down, that was it. A slightly better second and third, though they were subsumed in the final stanza.
4) Larry Brooks summed it up well: "The season eventually exposes everyone. The Rangers, who have won just five of their past 18 games (5-8-5), have been exposed as a team deficient in hockey IQ every bit as much as one that lacks high-end skill, speed and physically imposing athletes. It has become a team that compounds its own mistakes and consistently gets sucked into the vortex of unmanaged emotions."
If those bolded words don't scare you, nothing will.
- Deficient in hockey IQ, is that the player, coaches, system or all of the above? If the latter three, the future could be scary.
- Lacking high end skill - we all agree that a talent boost is needed. Free agency and a high draft pick hopefully help remediate that, along with an uptick from some of the kids in Hartford and in the KHL.
- A team that compounds its own mistakes and consistently gets sucked into the vortex of unmanaged emotions - mentally soft? Teams learn how to win. Young teams compound their mistakes. This isn't that young of a team, so for the squad to be that soft, and maybe that stretches from last season, but not a positive sign. The team needs a leader, someone who can keep spirits up and help the kids reach another level. Right now, does someone of that ilk exist?
5) Rebuild - watching these games are painful. We all know Mats Zuccarello, who isn't helping his trade value, will be gone. The same with Adam McQuaid. Kevin Hayes is the Wild Card here, as we have discussed. Are you dealing Chris Kreider? Who is taking on Kevin Shattenkirk, even if New York would deal him, without New York eating salary? Oh, and by the way, there is a limitation as to how many players you can eat salary for and New York is picking up part of Ryan Spooner's contract. Are you buying out Brendan Smith, burying him in the minors, so you have more dead cap space, or convincing him to play in Switzerland, like Kevin Klein? Does Marc Staal have any value with two more seasons at $5.7 million per year left on his deal?
Freeing up or maintaining cap room for Panarin or Stone, maybe also Karlsson while also adding picks and younger prospects are the keys to the remainder of the season. If pressure existed on GM Jeff Gorton last deadline and this past off-season, more may be in place now and in the upcoming free agency due to the importance on the organization. A little more than seven weeks until the trade deadline, get ready for lots of rumors and speculation.
David Quinn after Saturday's practice:
Brendan Smith, scratched from the past three straight and 11 games overall, partnered with Kevin Shattenkirk at practice Saturday, a possible indicator he might be re-entering the lineup today. Freddie Claesson, paired with 'Kirk on Friday but a healthy scratch seven times this season, partnered with Tony DeAngelo, who has watched the past two and 16 for the season. With Staal-Pionk as the other pair, Claesson-DeAngelo are the likely odd-men out though I wonder if it could mean Skjei-McQuaid might be scratched. Here is a novel thought, split up Pionk and Staal, see what Pionk could do paired with another defenseman and play Staal with a different blueliner.
Vitali Kravtsov was scoreless in Team Russia's 5-2 win over Switzerland to secure the Bronze Medal:
K'Andre Miller was the seventh d-man again in Team USA's 3-2 loss to Finland, which resulted in a Silver Medal:
Kaapo Kakko (learn this name if you don't already know it) with game-winner: