By now you guys all know how the Video Breakdown works, but for this one I'm going to do something a little different.
Yesterday, thanks in part to Eliotte Friedman's stellar 30 Thoughts column, we here at the Banter had a fun little discussion on who was the fastest skater, smoothest skater, and most explosive skater that prompted me to do this breakdown.
I'm going to do this by ranking the Rangers skaters by the three categories above using fancy schmancy gifs.
*DISCLAIMER: THESE RANKINGS ARE FINAL AND ARE IN NO WAY OPEN FOR DEBATE*
Smoothest Skater: Not the fastest skater on the team, nor does he have the most explosive stride, but the smooth skater has those long, graceful strides that help them cover long swaths of ice as quick as possible.
In my opinion, the smoothest skater on the team is Rick Nash. He uses those long legs and strong hips to eat up ice like it was nothing. I've said it before, Nash's skating reminds of Carlos Beltran in his prime patrolling the outfield.
No real acceleration, but those nice long strides eat up the neutral zone and create so much separation for Nash.
The runner up to Rick Nash in the Smoothest Skater category is Ryan McDonagh, the 25 year old defenseman compliments his forwards by being able to use his quick strides to quickly move the puck out of the zone as well as being able to catch some of the fastest skaters in the game on breaks
Look at those long strides as McDonagh catches up to Phil Kessel in full stride and steals the puck cleanly. Such a beautiful skater.
Some other Rangers that fit into this category would be John Moore, Kevin Klein, Kevin Hayes, and J.T. Miller
Fastest Skaters: This is simple, these are the Rangers fastest skaters goal line to goal line. While their skating itself isn't the most aesthetically pleasing to look at, their flat speed makes up for it.
There's really no debate here, from goal line to goal line Carl Hagelin is the fastest skater on the team and in the whole NHL. Because of his size (5'11'') Hagelin's skates and legs churn like Sonic the Hedgehog and while it takes him a little longer to get up to speed, once he gets there there is no player in the NHL that can catch him from behind.
Watch Hagelin's feet here, they never stop moving forward and it's like he runs across the ice.
The runner up for this category is, I think, Martin St. Louis. He's small and has the thighs of mad man and once he gets those legs churning and that low center of gravity, Marty gets to a pretty high gear, slightly higher than Mats Zuccarello (which could be a reason why the two haven't quite clicked yet this year).
Marty churns those legs and by the red line he has enough speed and separation to set himself up for the short handed goal.
A few other Rangers who have good to great flat speed while not having the greatest of skating stride are Derick Bassard, Dominic Moore, Mats Zuccarello, and mostly more of their smaller, compact skaters.
Explosive Skaters: This category takes a little from the first two categories. Great skating ability that allows for excellent top speed. There aren't that many players on the Rangers that have this combination but those that do utilize it really well.
This is another category that I think the leader is clear and it's the 6'3 winger Chris Kreider. His skating is like a finely tuned sports car, just a couple of quick, short strides and those long powerful legs are topping out in no time.
Poor Cody Franson, he never stood a chance once Kreider took those first couple of steps.
The runner up, to me, is the only other real explosive skater on the roster in Anthony Duclair. It's been a small sample so far, but even in preseason you can see the explosiveness and quickness in Duclair's skating.
One thing I like about this GIF is how Duclair adjusts himself twice. You can see that he almost stumbles over the blue line, gets the puck in his feet and accelerates again past Braden Coburn in the blink of an eye.
There aren't really any other Rangers on the rosters to have the pure acceleration/top speed combination that Duclair and Kreider have. Some have the acceleration but don't get up to speed, and some have the speed but not the acceleration.
Well, that about does it for the Rangers and skating. Sorry for crashing your browser and...what? What's that? There are still some skaters I haven't covered? Oh...right...alright let's do this
The cement skaters: These are the bad skaters, the ones who should just take a few steps and hope inertia and physics do the rest of the work. If they are the ones leading the rush then something terrible has happened to the rest of the team.
The leader in this not so glorious clubhouse, non goalie division, is easily Ryan Malone. He's just so...awful and painful to watch skate.
GIF evi...no, I can't do that to you guys. I'll just leave this here
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Ryan Malone chugs down the ice, like an old steamer ship. You can almost see the smoke bellowing out of his exhaust</p>— Kevin Power (@Kpower90) <a href="https://twitter.com/Kpower90/status/514226202610237440">September 23, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
If there's any runner up to this category it'd be Dan Girardi.
Instead of evidence of that, just go up and watch those other GIFs.
So...there you have it guys. Thoughts? Obviously wrong opinions?