Tag: blueshirt blog

Henrik Lundqvist Gets Emotional When Reporters Ask About Mats Zuccarello

It has not been easy for Rangers fans let alone Rangers players to really accept this trade and move on from the fact that Mats Zuccarello may never and probably will never again be a New York Ranger.

Zuccarello spent nine years with the Rangers, an undrafted free agent who played his first game as a Blueshirt in 2010. Five years earlier the Rangers chose Henrik Lundqvist with their 7th round pick in 2005. Lundqvist has been with the Rangers ever since. Along the way he has seen many defenseman in front of him, been around a lot of different coaches and has played with a ton of players up until this point. A 14-year professional and someone most fans know to be a very competitive and serious guy. Lundqvist is the back bone of this Rangers franchise and has been for quite sometime now. But one other player that is essentially the 1A when it comes to favorite Rangers since 2005 is Mats Zuccarello.

Zuccarello played 509 games with the Rangers and 509 games alongside Henrik Lundqvist. The two host a charity game together and have been known to be best friends for the better of Zuccarello’s nine year career. When the trade speculation surfaced Lundqvist spoke on the issue about how difficult it would be to see his long-time teammate but more importantly friend leave him. As the days went on and the news simmered down, it seemed like things were looking like the two would stay together, at least they hoped.

It is obviously a lot easier to cope with the fact of Zuccarello leaving when it does not actually happen but it is difficult to put into words what it is like with Zuccarello really gone now. And clearly Lundqvist struggled as he choked up during a post game interview and could not finish the reporters question.

This is difficult for any fan to watch and especially Rangers fans. The only time, I could recall Lundqvist showing emotion like this is during a tough Stanley Cup final loss or Eastern Conference final loss but nothing to this extent.

Zuccarello and Lundqvist shared many great moments together from the seven straight playoff appearances, President Trophy in 2014-15, the Eastern Conference finals back to back years and a Stanley Cup loss in 2014. The two have shared the good, the bad and everything in between. But more importantly they were known for their bond off the ice and in the locker room that many fans would not understand nor see.

It is tough for Rangers to see their favorite player walk away after 9.5 years but it is even tougher for Lundqvist to see his best friend walk away after all the memories and times together. Whatever Lundqvist is feeling is something not many fans or players can probably relate too.

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Henrik Lundqvist Makes 43 Saves In Rangers 2-1 Win Over Carolina

The New York Rangers picked up another down to the wire type of win. Not a pretty one by any means but a win is a win. Some Rangers may disagree with the way the Rangers season has went thus far as they are 20th in NHL one game above .500 with 60 points in 59 games played.

The Rangers picked up an ugly 2-1 win Tuesday night vs the Hurricanes. The first goal came just as many it seems like have come from the Rangers this season off a body crashing the net and in. What hockey analysts would call puck luck. The Rangers went down 1-0 early in the second period until a flying Filip Chytil came down the right side throwing a puck on net hoping for the best as streaking Connor Brickley came crashing towards the net and the Hurricanes defenseman happen to push Brickley into the crease area making the puck bounce off Brickley’s chest and in to tie it 1-1.

As the game ensued after, nothing else was scored in the second period. The Hurricanes did head into the third period outshooting the Rangers 26-16. The Hurricanes have been one of the most shot heavy teams in the NHL this season but that was no match for 36-year-old netminder Henrik Lundqvist. Who was playing in his first game since February 12th. Lundqvist has not seen the crease for the Rangers last two games with a day rest in between each game it was odd not to see Lundqvist in net for Pittsburgh or Buffalo. Still without seeing game action since February 12th in which he lost 4-3 to Winnipeg. Lundqvist made 18 saves in the third period and 43 in the game. The Rangers went onto win 2-1 off a power play goal by Vladislav Namestikov (7). Another ugly, “grinder” type goal for the Rangers as the chaos ensued in front Namestikov managed to find the loose puck among four other bodies and slam it home for the game-winning goal.

With this win Lundqvist now moves to 448 wins in his career, six shy of Curtis Joseph for 5th all-time and 35 behind Roberto Luongo the only other active goaltender ahead of Lundqvist at the moment. Lundqvist is 36-years-old with two-years left on his contract. Judging off the health of Lundqvist, Luongo’s ability to play at 39-years-old we would have to assume Lundqvist is capable to do so as well.

Now, if Lundqvist does play out his last two-years and play until he is 39-years-old we can probably make the assumption that he will surpass Luongo. Personally I believe Lundqvist has another 20-25 win seasons in him. He has 17 at the moment and will more than likely finish with 25 wins this season and another 25 win season in the next two years. Either way Lundqvist Stanley Cup or not, Lundqvist is a future hall of fame candidate.

New York Rangers Should Trade Pavel Buchnevich, Adam McQuaid & Mats Zuccarello And Keep Kevin Hayes

The Rangers have about three weeks and 28 days to figure out what they are going to do with Adam McQuaid, Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello and Pavel Buchnevich. The news has told us that the Rangers are going to trade Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello and probably Adam McQuaid. Which really hurts most if not all long-time Rangers fan Zuccarello has been a fan favorite for so many years in New York and Kevin Hayes is becoming a fan favorite as he continues to be a more integral part of this team.

The headline may show that I would like to see Buchnevich and Zuccarello traded over Hayes but in all honesty I would like to see Zuccarello stay but I do understand this is a business and decisions need to be made. I am all in favor of getting rid of Buchnevich though. He is an RFA at the end of his entry-level contract he would cost very little to re-sign for most teams and the Rangers really do not need him.

Mats Zuccarello is 31-years-old yes he is definitely nearing his mid-thirties and we are all aware of that, he is valuable to any top contending playoff team so it makes sense to get rid of him, it sucks to see but it makes sense. The Rangers can probably receive a decent amount for Zuccarello, probably a first rounder and mid-level prospect.

Now, my case to get rid of Buchnevich and keep Hayes. Hayes is 26-years-old he has already gone through his years of “adjusting” to the NHL speed, level, style of play and has solidified himself as a top-six forward in the NHL. If the Rangers are looking to the future why would they not want to keep Hayes? He is the perfect age, in his prime, and for young players that are going to be coming into the Rangers organization by the time they develop and get adjusted to the NHL game Hayes will probably be 29-30 years old, which is again a great age to help teach these young players, be a play-maker for these young guys, and if Hayes re-signs his contract will probably end by the age of 31-32 so we get his best years out if him then he moves on.

Let’s be honest Buchnevich has not panned out to be anything the Rangers imagined, he has been a healthy scratch this year, and previous years and has not quite adjusted to the NHL level yet, therefore why would they continue to give this guy a shot, sign him back and get nothing out of him when they can probably trade him get a 2nd or 3rd round pick and move on from that situation. Buchnevich has played one full season with the Rangers and aside from his 43 point season last year he has been extremely inconsistent when he is in the line up. I know I am not the only one who believes this about Buchnevich but the 23-year-old has not been what the Rangers expected him to be, he may still be developing but I’d rather not take a shot on Buchnevich when the Rangers already have a solidified solid 45-50+ point guy in Kevin Hayes. Trading Hayes may be “best” for the re-build but the Rangers have already chosen five first rounders in the last two years, they have another one this year, two second rounders (maybe a 1st this year if Tampa wins the Cup) so really how much can the Rangers bank on draft picks to make them a legitimate playoff team again.

Call me crazy but I’d rather have a guaranteed top-six winger/center, someone who can be effective with whoever he plays, is a leader, veteran and a good player for young players to play alongside then a player who is 23-years-ole, someone we have a 147 game report on that shows some major flaws and inconsistency in his game, can only play with top guys to be effective and is a question mark as to what he can be int he future.

Say the Rangers trade Zuccarello, Buchnevich, McQuaid, don’t re-sign Cody McLeod or Fredrik Claesson that will leave 9.62 million to re-sign Hayes, Pionk and Deangelo.

New York Rangers David Quinn’s Report Card

The New York Rangers are coming off a rough three-game stretch, all three games coming on the road and all resulting in a lose. The Rangers most recent road trip does not do David Quinn much justice, therefore looking past these three games but still considering them to some extent. Here is my take on the Rangers new head coach report card up until this point.

The Rangers entered this season with very little, to no intention on making playoffs. I’m sure there was still that one fan named Antonio from Brooklyn, New York who grew up a die hard Ranger fan that still believed the Rangers had a chance of making the playoffs this season. Sorry, Antonio but the Rangers are not going to be a playoff team for a little while. Quinn came into the Rangers organization for a few reasons (1) to help develop young players, he did a great job with players at Boston University (Jack Eichel, Charlie McAvoy..) (2) The Rangers were heading into a new direction, a younger more patient, looking to the future direction. Which made Quinn perfect role for this job. (3) They needed a new face, some new ideas, a shake up from a coach who never coached professional hockey, someone who can come in and brought new philosophies, attitude and certainly a new voice to that locker room.

I am not sure many thought Quinn would 17-18-7 with 41 points and 6th in the Metropolitan division. The Rangers were regarded as a team destined to finish last in the division and near 28th to 31st in the NHL. For that reason alone Quinn has, in my eyes exceeded my expectations for the first four months of the season. I cannot speak for every Ranger fan, I am a little less biased and realistic than most Ranger fans therefore the Dancing Larry type Ranger fans probably will disagree with me. Either way looking at three main key takeaways from Quinn’s first four months and 42 games in.

(1) Youth development: B- 

Speaking for myself I’d have to give him a B- in this area. In the beginning of the year it was frustrating to see Filip Chytil on the fourth line for many games. Pavel Buchnevich scratched, not many young defenseman on the roster and still playing Brendan Smith. Vinni Lettieri still in the minors, a glimpse of Lias Andersson, a cup of coffee for Steven Forgarty, no sign of John Gilmour, Rob O’Gara, Ryan Lindgren yet. We have seen Neal Pionk be the Rangers number one defenseman which is due to Quinn trusting the young defenseman in every situation, no matter the game, time, etc. I say a B- because while he did a decent job with Chytil and Buch it was the right move at the time. Buchnevich has not been the player we all expected him to be, he was struggling early on and still is therefore he probably deserved less minutes. Also not playing Chytil a lot early on has helped him see the game a little better. As well O’Gara, Gilmour will and hopefully be up very soon… and unpopular opinion. Either Quinn was not playing Andersson correctly or Andersson really is going to be a bust. My opinion, Rangers wasted that first overall pick in 2017.

(2) Game Management: B

I do like the way Quinn manages the lines and game honestly. Although he does change the lines a decent amount throughout the game and mixes guys up a lot, I think he is still trying to see what works. Plus he does a good job of playing the hot hand, some nights guy are hot and some are not and he does a good job recognizing who is on and who is not. My only concern is his defensive line choices late in games, numerous times I have seen Adam McQuaid or Smith out there on the back end when the Rangers are up by one-goal.

(3) Style of play: B

The Rangers were known to be a pretty gritty, get in the ugly areas, throw pucks on net and hope for the best type of team. While in the d-zone the Rangers D were not responsible, and hoped Hank made the first and second save. I like how Quinn in a sense has made us a better transitional team, a little more responsible in the d-zone and a little hungrier in the offensive zone. He has done a great job trusting Neal Pionk, reviving Marc Staal, not a great job with Kevin Shattenkirk but that is on Shattenkirk as well. He has also done a great job giving Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes the free reign to do things and be creative in all areas of the ice. I like how Quinn allows the players to make mistakes, learn from their mistakes and not play such an old school game backed by an old school philosophy of “get pucks deep and chase”.

Overall: B

The Rangers will more than likely finish with a top-10 pick for the NHL 2019 draft which will really make or break Quinn’s time in New York. They will also probably be trading Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello in the coming weeks. Quinn has done in my opinion a good job, he was not given an easy job, a young team, a crazy hockey market, the big city and bright lights. Quinn has come in and done what he can with what he has. It will be interesting to see the roster moves they make later in the season after the All-Star break in terms of bringing up AHL players so they can see some more NHL time before next season.

A Look At The New York Rangers Upcoming Road Trip

The New York Rangers have touched down in Denver, Colorado to begin their three-game road trip. The Rangers are coming into this road trip having dropped three of their last ten in regulation but another four in overtime/shootout. The Rangers have won just three games in their last ten games and to make matters worse they are not a favorable road team. Posting a 6-10-2 record on the road, and of their last ten games four have come on the road, in which they have lost two and won two (Nashville, St. Louis). Despite a big win in Nashville the other week, the Rangers have not done a great job in terms of scoring. In their last ten they have averaged, 2.3 goals per game, while allowing 3.3 goals per game. Sure, Penguins scoring seven Wednesday night does not help the case but even so they still have allowed 2.89 goals per game.

The Rangers head to Colorado Friday night, a team that is struggling greatly, on a six-game skid, 2-5-3 in their last ten and not playing the Colorado hockey we saw earlier in the year. They then travel to Arizona Sunday for an afternoon game vs a team that is subpar at home (7-12-1 at the moment) and cap the trip with one of the better home teams and best team of the three in this trip, Vegas Tuesday night. Vegas has lost three games at home this season (at the moment 13-3-3) and is starting to become the team we saw go on a immaculate run last season.

The big takeaway for this Rangers team and this road trip is be better than last road trip which they lost 2 of 3 and two of those games lost were to the leagues worst. Point two, how this young team responds to a rather difficult task at hand. This is not bizarre to see a team travel for three-straight away games but they get rest and a day in between each game yet with this young line up we will see how they fair in the thick of the schedule.

I would honestly expect the Rangers to take 2 of 3 this trip, the Avalanche struggling a win Friday is possible, a win in Arizona is more than possible and a loss to Vegas is likely. But at the same time the Rangers could lose all three, get a struggling Colorado team that needs a win badly, an Arizona team that is no cake-walk and the best home team in the NHL in Vegas. It will be interesting, that is why as writers we just sit here, drink a beer, relax and let the players do the playing.

Players to watch…

Kevin Hayes, Hayes is coming off a 8-point streak that was snapped vs St. Louis December 31st but this season Hayes has been one of the Rangers overall best players. He has 10 goals, 23 assists in 39 games and has honestly been the most noticeable and all around best player for the Rangers this season.

Neal Pionk-Marc Staal combination, the Rangers number one d-pairing has been to the test this season and it has been very surprising to see Staal’s game elevated this season and Pionk rise to the occasion. Pionk has 5 goals and 14 assists on the season with a -2 plus/minus rating and 12 power play points While Staal has 3 goals and 7 assists (already surpassed his total of 8 pts from last year) with a +1 plus/minus and zero power play points.

Chris Kreider, the 20 goal scorer has been involved in every Rangers scoring play it seems this year. Kreider has finally started to use his speed and quick shot to his advantage this year and keeping his game a little simpler than he has in years past. It will be interesting to see how Kreider comes out this trip.

Dan Quinn, the Rangers new head coach and former college coach has taken this team above expectations thus far, posting a 17-15-7 (41 points) record, eight points behind the last wild card spot and not dead last in the division or conference. He has head-scratching moments when he constantly shifts lines, dresses Cody McLeod more often than not, plays Filip Chytil on the fourth line, etc. But overall he has done a good job but this road trip will be a nice test for the young head coach and we’ll see how he can rally the troops to play on the road for three-straight.

Rangers upcoming schedule after road trip before All-Star break: 

New York Islanders @ MSG

New York Islanders @ Coliseum

Columbus Blue Jackets @ Nation Wide Arena

Carolina Hurricanes @ MSG

Chicago Blackhawks @ MSG

Boston Bruins @ TD Garden

 

 

Filip Chytil and Brett Howden goals help Henrik Lundqvist make history for 437th win

The Rangers have been off to one of the many surprising starts among some NHL clubs this year. With that said the Rangers are 9-7-2 through their first 18 games. They have won 6 of their last seven games. Many are puzzled by the Rangers success, while it is early it is still a positive sign for the rebuilding, young team.

The Rangers won 2-1 in regulation vs Vancouver, I say regulation because of the Rangers nine wins this season five of them have come past regulation, four in a shootout and one in overtime. Which is also puzzling because for a young team, being able to pull games out in a shootout or overtime is huge, keeping the game that close all the way until the third and into overtime is a great sign.

Canucks vs Rangers short recap

The Rangers won off a Filip Chytil power play goal and Brett Howden late third-period goal. The Canucks struck first, early in the second period, as Nikolay Goldobin came out of the box to a puck on his stick, 2 v 1 vs Neal Poink, Poink laid out to block the pass and Goldobin absolutely roofed a wrister past Lundqvist high blocker side to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead. After that Henrik shut the door and the Rangers scored 10 minutes later on a power play, Poink took a shot from the point as it bounced out in front to Chytil in the high slot and he just banged it home for his first of the year. Later in the third with 8 minutes and change remaining. Jesper Fast won the draw back to Vesey who fumbled the puck off the draw, Howden was right there puck on his stick, and just rifled it past Jacob Markstrom low glove side, for his fourth goal of the year and the game-winning goal.

Henrik earns 437th win, tied seventh all-time

The big story for tonight was the fact the Rangers had Neal Poink, Filip Chytil, Brett Howden and Jimmy Vesey all chip in on the score sheet and help the Rangers earn their ninth win of the year. Seeing these young guns chip in and be a big part of the Rangers success is something every Ranger wants to see right now. Also Henrik Lundqvist earned his 437th win to tied Jacques Plante on the NHL all-time win’s list. Henrik is now seventh in the NHL among goalies for wins in his career. He is 254 wins away from Martin Brodeur, realistically speaking he will not reach that, but Lundqvist can come close to Ed Belfour’s 484 career wins.

Rangers win vs Vancouver shows a common theme in teams success

This win is just a testament of what has made the Rangers successful this season, they are getting production form an array of guys, the young guys are chipping in and doing their part this year, Lundqvist is off to a great start posting a 2.54 goals against, .923 save percentage and six wins. It has been an adventure for the Rangers this season, the reason they are playing so well is probably because no one is expecting anything from them, they are just going out, enjoying the game, having fun and worrying about one game at a time and not looking too far ahead. The Rangers get ready for their first of four meetings with the local rivalry between the Islanders. The Rangers have not been all that successful vs the Islanders in the last few years but let’s see how these two rosters match up Thursday night in Brooklyn.

What went wrong: New York Rangers 2017-2018

Making the playoffs 11 of the last 12 years to then come back and have the season the Rangers did, is difficult to swallow. While yes the Rangers placed 24th in the NHL and posted a 34-39-9 record and had their first below .500 record in 15 years. The last time the Rangers posted a below .500 average record was in 2003-2004. The Rangers ranked 22nd in goals for(228), 4th in goals against(263), 14th in power play percentage(21.2), 12th in penalty kill percentage(81.4) and while the Rangers did not have an overall terrible looking season a lot has changed for this organization.

The Rangers started off the season on the wrong side of the puck after dropping several games at the beginning of the year and being behind it was difficult for the Rangers to get any momentum going. While they did turn things around for a short period of time, around the trade deadline is when things fell apart for the team. That is when the Rangers decided to shift their outlook and change things up trading away captain Ryan McDonagh, JT Miller, Nick Holden, Rick Nash and Michael Grabner while acquiring two first-round picks, and several other later drafts picks. Whilst at the end of the season firing head coach Alian Vigneault and hiring Boston University storied coach David Quinn.

The Rangers have now three first-round draft picks, two seconds and two third-round picks. Amounting to 7 picks in the first three rounds, the first time the Rangers have had this much to play with in a long time, perhaps the first. Anyways with these picks came a different looking line up as the Rangers now have 4 prospect defenseman playing, a defenseman coming off an injury, with the front end looking a tad different after acquiring Ryan Spooner and Vladislav Namestikov. What went wrong for the Rangers though? A lot did…

What went wrong?

  1. Injuries: The Rangers dealt with injuries to Chris Kreider, Kevin Shattenkirk, Mika Zibanejad, Ryan McDonagh(when he was on the team) these four players are the Rangers top players and players that play a huge role in their team’s success. With Shattenkirk being injured it made the defense a tad unbalanced and shifted things a bit. Kreider being out really left that speedy left winger hole wide open as the Rangers had nobody to fill it and when Shattenkirk and McDonagh are out it is tough to be competitive with two top four d out.
  2. Coach Alain Vigneault was terrible at putting lines together and developing players. This was one of the reasons AV was fired, his relationship with the players was not great and he had a hard time getting to these guys and getting them to do the right things. He was known for his odd line swaps and matchings and being a coach who never gave players the right chances when they would mess up. With a team that was struggling put together with a bad coach, only bad things will happen.
  3. No depth. The Rangers really had no one to fill the void when their top players were out or not producing, Paul Carey, Jesper Fast, Peter Holland, David Desharnias are not players you can substitute for a lack of production from Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey or no Kreider, or no Zibanejad. Without depth, this team had some trouble.
  4. The domino effect. When the tough got going, it only got worse. When the Rangers were basically out of the race and trade rumors came up it only got worse from there. And when it finally did happen things continued to get worse, then firing AV came up and Lundqvist was playing poorly it was just one big domino effect of a bad event after bad event. Luckily the offseason is here and things may get better.

Will things get better?

We’d sure hope so with the picks and prospects they have coming up. As Ranger fans are probably also screaming for a better season they can’t deal with being bad New York fans so the Rangers need to get better. They have their two first round picks in 2017 coming up next year who have displayed excellent play in World Juniors, the IIHF and their respected leagues overseas and with Hartford. Filip Chytil and Liass Andersson will probably be in the Rangers line up full-time next season so that is a plus as it helps balance out the top six. They also have picks 9, 26 and 28. With the #9 they will probably land Noah Dobson the 6’3 defenseman from the QMJHL who just played in the Memorial Cup, this is a maybe though anyways they will land a top end prospect. With 26, 28 they can either trade one of these picks or draft a potential top-9, top-6 forward.

They also have 24.9 million in cap space but have to sign 4 RFA forwards, 3 RFA defenseman and 1 UFA defenseman and these players are must sign, well at least 6/8 are. To say things will be a tad better in New York is understandable, much better, who knows. A new coach, new players, different lineup, aging goaltender. It will be difficult especially playing in the toughest division in hockey. Expecting a 5th place finish from the Rangers in the Metropolitan and possibly a wild card spot but would not be surprised if they miss the playoffs again next season.