In case you missed it, the Rangers left scorched earth behind them at MSG before embarking on their upcoming California road trip. They absolutely decimated the Buffalo Sabres, scoring 4 goals in the first period, en route to a 6-1 victory. [Blueshirt Banter] [NHL] [NY Post]
Marc Staal was a game-time decision on Saturday after the passing of his grandfather. Staal ended up playing in tribute to him, noting that it was nice to be home and close to his family for the last few days leading up to the game. [Newsday] [NY Post] [NY Daily News]
Steve Zipay argues the following: Dan Boyle is a player in transition (ok...I think he is a player who broke his hand and is starting to find his groove while handling the puck...but ok); Anthony Duclair is headed back to his junior team (ehhh...not so sure); The Rangers suck at face-offs (if you want to only look at overall percentages, fine. But see below). [Newsday]
Derick Brassard is up over 50% against left-handed players, but isn't getting as many matchups against them to exploit it.
Brassard also faces above average overall quality of FO competition, and the highest on the team in that regard.
The top three FO takers, Stepan, Brassard and Moore, all see a bump in their success in the defensive zone, which is exactly what you would want to see.
And they all don't do as well in the neutral zone, which is least important of any zone since it is furthest from each goal and requires more hockey to be played after the drop to get the puck to the goal.
So no. Outside of Kevin Hayes royally sucking at FOs and Stepan being below average, the overall FO percentages aren't a big deal. Because of everything above. Stop it with the FOs!!!
FO stat tables provided by faceoffs.net.
Ryan McDonagh is growing into the C. At just 25 years old, he leans on the support of his teammates to validate his leadership. [NY Daily News]
Stuart Scott's passing hit home for Dominic Moore in particular, who lost his wife to cancer. [NY Daily News]
Our friends over at Blue Seat Blogs have some thoughts on the looming Marc Staal contract situation. Good read. [Blue Seat Blogs]
To win it all, Larry Brooks argues that youngsters J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes need a chance to really shine. I actually completely agree. They should be getting sheltered offensive minutes when the game dictates it, so that they can use their above-average size and puck-protection skills to overwhelm inferior line matchups. They can create a nightmare for opposing teams, especially at home when the Rangers get last change. With Hagelin on the wing? That might be fun... [NY Post]
On a similar subject, the bottom six has certainly been muddied lately hasn't it? Tanner Glass has been healthy scratched two games straight, which is simultaneously surprising and exciting for many fans. But the lines have been juggled, with Jesper Fast seeing time on the third line on Saturday night. I'd prefer a "defensive zone start" and matchup fourth, featuring Fast there. If and when Anthony Duclair comes back, he can slot in on the third line from time to time. [NY Post]
Rangers prospects have shined bright at the WJC. [The Hockey Writers]
Duclair and Team Canada vanquished Slovakia with relative ease, despite Slovakian goaltender Godla's God-like performance on Sunday night. They will face the Russians, featuring Rangers uber-prospect Pavel Buchnevich and goaltender Igor Shestyorkin in the WJC Final. You can watch on the NHL Network. Coverage begins at 8pm est tonight. We will have a game thread up about 30 minutes before puck drop. [Blueshirt Banter] [NHL Network]