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2014 Report Card: Dan Carcillo

Middle fingers for everyone!

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

I can't remember the last time I was so wrong about a trade that the Rangers made. For those of you who have read me long enough on Blueshirt Banter, you know that I'm not a very big fan of guys who have to ice their knuckles after games and are best known for running their mouths and spending some quality alone time in the penalty box. When the Rangers acquired Dan Carcillo I thought it was a bad move, even though it only cost the team a 7th round pick. I didn't think it was horrendous because, at the end of the day,  he was an NHL body and he was a pretty reasonable replacement for Derek Dorsett, but I was convinced that we were going to regret the trade even though it involved almost no risk whatsoever. Boy, was I wrong.

Dorsett Goes Down

Less than 24 hours after the news broke that Derek Dorsett had broken his leg in a game against the Penguins in early January, the Rangers moved a 7th round pick to the Los Angeles Kings (of all teams) to acquire well-known pest Dan Carcillo. I was not alone in groaning about the move. I specifically remember thinking to myself, "watch that 7th round pick become the next Henrik Lundqvist or Henrik Zetterberg."

To say that I expected very little out of Dan Carcillo would be a gross overstatement. I expected him to skate in one or two games and play himself off of the roster by taking costly penalties and/or by simply not being good enough at hockey. As it turns out, I couldn't have been more wrong. When Carcillo came into the lineup for Dorsett it felt like the Rangers clicked a little bit better. Perhaps the team was just getting hot, perhaps it was just because a new face was in the locker room, or perhaps it had nothing to do with the Dorsett injury or Carcillo trade, but there is no denying that Carcillo instantly injected energy and physicality into the Rangers' bottom six. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. Dan Carcillo was a lot more than a guy with a bunch of missing teeth and a black eye, he was a hockey player. He was helping the Rangers win games.

Stadium Series Hero

Carcillo scored 5 goals in his 39 games with the Rangers (playoffs and the regular season) and some of those goals were pretty darn significant. Just three games after being acquired by the Rangers, Carcillo scored against his former team, the Philadelphia Flyers, at the Garden. Carcillo picked up 15 PIM and was named the 3rd star of the game in that 4-1 Rangers win. It was a tough act to follow but on January 29th, in the second Stadium Series game the Rangers played, Dan Carcillo scored the game winning goal against the New York Islanders in the third period and helped the Rangers sweep the Stadium Series.

If you had told me in September that one of my favorite Rangers' regular season moments involved Dan Carcillo scoring a game winning goal in an outdoor game I would have smacked you right in the mouth and called you a dirty, filthy liar. But it happened. Can you believe that it actually got better after this goal?

Middle Fingers in Philly

As great as the Stadium Series goal was, it simply can't compare to Carcillo's two goals in the 2014 Playoffs against the Flyers. The first goal is, of course, best known for the way in which it was celebrated and the reaction of a very unhappy Flyers fan. Instead of describing what happened, I'll just share the video with you guys so we can relive that magical moment.

Aw, someone was very, very upset. Carcillo's other playoff goal was scored at MSG in Game 7 against the Flyers. It was beautiful. It was the first goal of a huge game that was a must-win from the Rangers. That the goal was scored by a fourth line role player instead of a big gun says a lot about why the Rangers were as successful as they were in the 2014 Playoffs.  Just look at the pass by Mats Zuccarello on this play. Absolutely dirty.

Unfortunately, after that magical moment Carcillo played in just five more playoff games for the Rangers. He was often a last-minute scratch and was normally brought in only to shake things up and/or when Dorsett wasn't cutting it. The reason that we didn't see Carcillo in the Stanley Cup Final against the Kings was because he earned a suspension for being too physical with an official. In Game 3 against the Habs at MSG, Carcillo resisted being controlled by an official and it appeared as if he elbowed the official in question. The NHL threw the rulebook at him. Initially, Carcillo was suspended for 10 games but the suspension got reduced to 6 games after an appeal. After being suspended, Carcillo never saw the ice again in the 2014 Playoffs.

His year with the Rangers was chaotic, emotional, and memorable. It seemed that Carcillo was either rarely used (and therefore invisible) in a game, or he made a huge, often positive, impact on a game. I'm not sure what more you can ask of a fourth liner that cost your team a 7th round pick. He succeeded in his role in a way that left me shaking my head and smiling.

Carcillo is currently an unrestricted free agent and might still end up playing for the Rangers next season if they can find a way to fit him in. He's a pretty good option for a fourh liner or a thirteenth forward, and he has shown that he is a lot more valuable than his reputation of being a guy who spends a lot of time in the penalty box. I'm not sure whether or not we'll see Carcillo come back but, at the right price, I'd happily welcome "Car Bomb" back (I really, really do hate that nickname) to the Rangers' bottom six.

What did you guys think of Carcillo? Do you want him back? Should the Rangers just bring him back for games against the Flyers?