Hi All, Happy Holidays to all and to your families.
18-18-2, 8-10-2 at home, 10-8 on the road, and 4-4-2 in the last 10, of which 9 games were at home.
About as average and as mediocre as you can get. Like Michael Corleone, just when you thought you were out, they pull you back in. That's about the size of it. They start off horribly to open the season, they get back to .500, eliminating the bad start, and then go through a stretch where the team looks like a contender some nights and pretenders other nights. So where are we?
Just where we are now, IMO. As of now we are an average team that may or may not make the playoffs. I have been to 13 home games and I am 6-6-1 going to those games. I have seen them play great and I have seen them play awful, uninspired hockey. Very rarely do they play a good game and lose like they did against the Bees back in November. If they play well they usually win or at least get a point and when they badly then they usually lose.
To me the highlights of the season so far are MZA, Kreider, Talbot, McD, and Dorsett. Haggy would have been in that group if he were a little more consistent, though he seems to have found his game again (hellooooooooooo, use your speed Haggy).
MZA, to me, has been the Rangers' best and most consistent player. He has learned how to play in the NHL and has been simply great in all facets of the game since his benching. He is actually burying scoring chances now which was something that had been lacking up until now. If he finishes even a little better at finishing then he will be considered a top player in the league. I'm not kidding. He will earn his next contract as he is on a one year RFA contract at a now laughable $1.15M.
"The Kreider" has arrived. He has been active in 90% of the games since his "MFGH" ("Magical Five Games in Hartford"). As all players do, he has had some down games. But the stupid benchings that AV has given him at ridiculous moments of games is mind numbing to say the least. Our Landeskog, IMO. An untouchable trading player at this point IMO.
Talbot has been tremendous, but it's 10 games guys. He's like the back up QB everyone clamors for. Of course we hope he keeps it up. But the league is full of smart players and when scorers find out his weakness then we will see how Talbot reacts. And we will also see what happens when Talbot faces the same sort of in game adversity that the King sees on a regular basis. Anyone not seeing that the Rangers play much better in front of Talbot, for whatever reason, is not paying attention.
I will skip McD because we all know about him. But why Dorsett? This is the guy I thought the Rangers were getting. Going to the games gives you a 100% perspective of what goes on on the ice, especially away from the puck. This guy has not been good, he has been great based on his role. Just great. His energy level, willingness to play his heart out and protect his teammates, and his occasional scoring contribution is what the Rangers need on the 4th line. Hence the reason he is on this part of my list.
Now the bad. The King, Nash, Stepan to a certain extent, Brass to a certain extent, and Girardi. These are the guys you expect to be the core of the team that will play well in most games. If you want to know the reason for mediocrity then look no further than this group.
The Rangers go as the King goes, and the King has been an "average" goalie. As a result you have an average Rangers' team. Is it age? Less blocked shots? The new equipment? All of the above? I don't think anyone knows, including the King. Will he turn it around and revert back to his super human self? To be honest? I don't know and I am as staunch a King fan as there is. I believe in my heart that he will get it straightened out and then we can stop the nonsense discussions that go on relating to the goalies.
I was one of the ones that said "you have to get Rick Nash." Last year he was great until the playoffs. This year, almost nonexistent since his latest concussion. Let's be truthful, I have thought that Rick might have lingering concussion issues going forward and there is nothing that changes my mind at this time. If Rick is not near the player we all expect then winning this year (making the playoffs) will be very tough if not impossible. Nash needs to be the Nash of the past, at the very least.
So I don't turn this into a novel as it already is, let's just say that Stepan, Brass, and G have very disappointing so far as compared to their respective expectations. Stepan has been ok but a #1 C is supposed to be better than ok. Girardi has been a complete mess at times as we all feel that the past wear and tear is starting to catch up with him. If Brass plays the way he is now then he will be fine.
So what do we need to do? Would trades and/or call ups help? I think it starts with keeping JT Miller at center. Why it took so long to put this guy back at his natural position is beyond me. I really feel like a Kreider-Miller-MZA line would be off the charts good. Lots of energy and I think the chemistry would be great on both sides of the ice.
I have suggested a Moulson/Ott combo for trade but thinking about it the Rangers really need to address the C position. We need a real #1 C desperately. The Avs have a plethora of centers and they need D desperately. Fellow Banter "tempogain" posted a very interesting article today suggesting the Rangers trade Girardi for Paul Stastny, or at least having those 2 players become the centerpiece of a trade. Both will be UFAs after this year. Quite honestly, I would do it. I think we all feel that having strong centers leads to NHL success. Right now we are weak and this would bolster that position for the Rangers big time as Stastny, Stepan, Miller, and Boyle/Moore would now be the centers after this year, assuming BR is bought out and Stastny is re-signed. I think this should be a trade focus of the team. Send the Avs MDZ as well and get back a D like Barrie. Throw in a pick or lower level prospect if you need to to get it done.
But what if the Rangers do nothing? In this case, I think the Rangers will continue the mediocre play that we have seen even if the King regains his prior form. They just don't have enough talent, grit, or whatever in any category to be successful, IMO. They will make us happy on some days and have us jumping off cliffs on others. In this case, it will be the Rangers' franchise mantra trying to improve the team: Wait until next season.
Thank you for reading. Thoughts?