The New York Rangers’ Doghouse is Open For Business

New York Rangers, Brady Skjei

New York Rangers head coach David Quinn might be beginning to show his frustration with the slow start to games the team has experienced in their last two contests.  People had noticed that during Thursday night’s game against Calgary that a couple of players did not see ice time for most of the third period. Hence being placed in Quinn’s doghouse, which is surprisingly defined in the Cambridge Dictionary as “a situation in which someone is angry at you for something you did or did not do.” The two most recent notables to experience this were Brady Skjei and Kaapo Kakko.

Skjei continues to struggle for the New York Rangers

Social media blew up when the television cameras caught David Quinn leaning over to assistant coach Lindy Ruff and appeared to tell him something to the effect that Skjei does not get any more ice time. Skjei continues to be plagued by turnovers, including a key one in which he tried to clear a puck, and it went right to the Flames’ Dillon Dube, who promptly found Derek Ryan, who scored the goal that made the game 3-2. The benching came in the last 10 minutes of the third period when Skjei was tagged what could have been described as a questionable penalty call. However, it was one of a handful of crucial penalties the Blueshirts took as they were trying to tie up the game.

Kakko’s Benching a Bit of a Surprise

Kakko had already picked up a goal and assist in the Calgary game, but the 18-year-old was whistled for holding at 12:08 of the final period and was benched. After serving the penalty, he did not see the ice for the remainder of the game. Puzzling more was that the line of Brett Howden, Filip Chytil, and Kakko dominated shift after shift for most of the contest. Now, we may also consider that something else was wrong with Kakko that Quinn did not share. It has been well documented that the youngster deals with type 1 diabetes and celiac disease, and perhaps his playing time was influenced by this.

David Quinn is never one that has backed off from the tough love approach of trying to bring along younger players. Let’s hope that this approach will help more than it hurts their development.

New York Rangers’ Resolution to Start Games Better Fails; Lose to Flames

New York Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist

Across the board, members of the New York Rangers hockey team stated that they needed to come prepared to play at the beginning of games. This followed the debacle in Edmonton in which the team gave up six goals in the first two periods before a furious rally came up just short. However, that did not happen on Thursday night as the Rangers fell to the Calgary Flames 4-3. Yes, that same Calgary Flames team that had been 0-4-1 in its last five home games.

The New York Rangers have Plenty of Blame to Go Around

In the loss to Edmonton, the poor defensive play was pointed out as one of the main culprits in that game. In Calgary, that was not the case. Sloppy play lead to the first two goals. Poor passing led to Johnny Gaudreau sliding a backhand between Lundqvist’s legs on a breakaway to put Calgary up 1-0 at 4:15 for the first period.

The breakaways were not done as an old nemesis returned to the Ranger power play: too much passing. During a five on three power play, the Rangers passed the puck around multiple times until an errant Tony DeAngelo pass was nabbed by Michael Backlund, who made it 2-0 with another breakaway at 7:16 of the first period.

Not a good way to start a game, especially against a reeling team that had been outscored 22-9 during its five-game home-ice losing streak. A glaring stat from the game was that the line of Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome, and Jesper Fast were a -3 for the game, so it is not surprising to see where the sloppy, inconsistent play started.  It does not get better as Saturday as the Rangers head to Vancouver to face a Canucks team that has won six straight.

There was some good news for the New York Rangers

The Rangers did bounce back after going down by two goals. Jacob Trouba scored on the power play on that same 5-on-3 to cut the lead to 2-1 at 7:42. Filip Chytil, still with the man advantage, scored on a rebound 25 seconds later to tie it 2-2. Kaapo Kakko had a goal and an assist breaking a scoring drought while Adam Fox had three assists against the team that drafted him.

The New York Ranger’s Mika Zibanejad Deserves to Play in the NHL All-Star Game

New York Rangers, Mika Zibanejad

The NHL announced on Monday that the New York Ranger’s forward Artemi Panarin has been selected to the All-Star Game. Fans will get a chance to vote for another deserving Ranger in Mika Zibanejad.  The NHL announced the candidates for the Last Men In selection.  Fans can go and vote for one more player to be selected for the contest, and Zibanejed has been placed on the ballot. Voting for the Last Men In opens Wednesday, Jan. 1, at 12 p.m. ET and closes Friday, Jan. 10, at 11:59 p.m. ET. Fans can vote at NHL.com/Vote or on a mobile interactive ballot on the NHL app.

Zibanajed has an All-Star Resume

We know Tony DeAngelo is not a huge fan of analytics, especially when it deals with Ryan Strome. But with all due respect to the Ranger defenseman, we need to dig into the numbers to make a case for Zibanejad. First, let’s take a look at his recent play.  Since Dec. 12, Zibanejad has seven goals in eight games, along with 13 points and five multi-point affairs. Just last Friday, he posted two power-play goals and an assist at even strength in a 5-3 victory over the Hurricanes.  For the season, he has 14 goals and 30 points with a plus-4 rating in 25 games.  Taking a look at 2018-19, Zibanejad scored 30 goals, 44 assists for 74 points in the 82 games played.  He is also considered one of the better two-way players in the NHL, as he is only one of 11 forwards this season who is averaging 2 minutes of power-play time and 2 minutes of shorthanded time.  Finally, let’s consider this stat: If we take a look at his most recent 82 games, Zibanejad has 37 goals with 47 assists for a total of 84 points. That makes him one of only 24 players who have averaged more than 1 point per game over that time period.

Of course, New York Ranger fans are very much aware of his skill set. This is to help you persuade friends and family to vote for one of our favorite Blueshirts. Even if he does not get voted in, there is a chance that he could also be selected to replace Alex Ovechkin, who has decided to skip the proceedings in order to rest his 34-year-old body. If so inclined, vote early, vote often and let’s place our well deserved forward into the NHL All-Star classic.

 

New York Rangers Show Grit In Almost Fully Recovering from Slow Start, Officiating In Edmonton Loss

New York Rangers, Brad Skjei

The New York Rangers did their very best to make sure the fine people of Edmonton enjoyed their New Year’s Eve. They allowed the Oilers to score six straight goals, including the first one, just eleven seconds in the game. They then almost accomplished what has never been done in NHL history: coming back from a six-goal deficit to win. The Blueshirts scored five goals in the final 20 minutes and 26 seconds of the game but came up short when the Oilers scored an empty-net goal to make the final score 7-5.

Why Did the New York Rangers Start So Slowly?

Given the comeback, not very many people wanted to focus on why the Rangers came out of the gate so sluggishly.  As apparent as it was that they were not ready to play, they may have become a bit shell shocked after the Oilers scored just 11 seconds into the game. After that, the Rangers seemed to lose focus. They played poor defense and took too many penalties and found themselves down 6-0.  This lead to goaltender Alexandar Georgiev repeatedly bashing his stick on the net and having Head Coach David Quinn pulling him. But it was not entirely all his fault. The Rangers were very aware of their inability to commit to playing defense, which includes being physical along the boards and in front of the net. None of this was seen for the first two periods of the game.

Head Coach David Quinn Very Frustrated with the Officiating

Part of the situation that saw the Rangers get down so quickly was the number of penalties they took. Not a good idea against the number one power-play unit in the NHL. Some of the penalties were legit, and some of them raised the ire of Quinn. The worst of these was when Ryan Lindgren was assessed an extra minor for slashing in a dust-up with Jujhar Khaira.  The Rangers were then slapped with a bench minor before the post-goal faceoff even occurred, as Quinn had a few choice words for the officiating crew. Quinn was frustrated after the game but kept his composure, hopefully assuring that he will not receive any additional fines for his displeasure with the officials.

Lost on all of this was that Artemi Panarin had four points while Ryan Strome, meanwhile, scored for the fourth time in four games and Mika Zibanejad for the ninth time in nine. But up and down the roster, players and coaches used one word to describe the comeback: character — something they will need to continue when they travel to Calgary for a Thursday night game.

 

Should the New York Rangers Trade Chris Kreider?

New York Rangers, Chris Kreider

Much of the news swirling around the New York Rangers this holiday season centers around the possibility that the Blueshirts would move 28-year-old winger Chris Kreider. But after watching him recently with linemate Mika Zibajenad, many wonder if this is a good idea.

The Case for Moving New York Rangers’ Kreider

The biggest motive in making the move is that Kreider will be an Unrestricted Free Agent after the season. Kreider does have a modified no-trade clause and carries a $4.625 million salary-cap hit. A couple of weeks ago, Kreider reportedly gave the Rangers a list of 11 teams that he would consider playing for. There are many that feel that the Rangers are unwilling to commit a lot of money to a player that was good but never achieved what many thought he would, even if it means alienating fans.

The second part of the equation is that if the Rangers are dead set on dealing him, is whether to do it now or wait until the trade deadline in February.  There seems to be quite a bit of interest in Kreider, who currently is playing very well. Trading him now will give the Rangers the chance to assimilate any new players on the team for a playoff push. However, the general thought is that waiting until the deadline makes teams willing to offer more in one last attempt to improve their team.  Creating bidding wars means that the Rangers can get the most in return for Kreider. In either scenario, with Taylor Hall off the market, Kreider is now one of the top targets of many teams.

The Case for Keeping Kreider

One of the biggest reasons for keeping Kreider is that he is a leader on the team and popular with teammates. An important consideration for a young team that has a fair chance to at least make a playoff run. Last year’s purge of popular players did not go well. After trading Zuccarello, Hayes, and McQuaid, the Blueshirts proceeded to go 1-6-5 over their next 12, which lead to a poor 5-11-5 finish. That would not be a great message for a young team.  Then there is the chemistry that Kreider and fellow linemate Mika Zibanejad have built up this season. He is also proving to be a leader to a team with many young players.  This may be what the Rangers are thinking as on the Hockey Night in Canada pregame show Saturday, Sportsnet reporter Elliot Friedman mentioned that Kreider is getting some interest but may not be available yet. It was also stated that the Rangers still have interest in resigning him.

The bottom line is that the decision to keep or move Kreider may hinge on whether the Rangers can stay in the playoff race. If the Rangers would falter before the trade deadline, the decision to trade him becomes much easier.

 

Surging New York Rangers Head to Western Canada

New York Rangers

It would have been effortless for a young New York Rangers team to fold up shop after the Toronto Maple Leafs scored two goals in the third period, including the tying goal with just 53 seconds remaining in the game. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Artemi Panarin hit Tony D’Angelo with a pass that he buried for the game-winner just 52 seconds into overtime to lift the Blueshirts to the victory.  The win gave the Rangers two in a row and broke Toronto’s six-game winning streak.

Can the New York Rangers Keep the Momentum Going?

That is certainly on the Rangers’ minds as they head out to Western Canada for three games against the Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, and Vancouver Canucks.  One of the keys to sustaining momentum will be the continued strong play at goal. Slightly lost in last night’s game was that goaltender Alexandar Georgiev stopped 43 of the Leaf’s 47 shots. This marked the third time that Georgiev made 40 or more saves in a game against Toronto. This follows Friday night’s reliable performance by Henrik Lundquist in their win against Carolina.

The other factor in sustaining the momentum is for the stars to keep doing what they have been doing. On Saturday night, Ryan Strome had two goals and two assists while Panarin added three assists, including the one on the game-winner. Mika Zibanejad scored a goal with an assist from Chris Kreider.

These combos on the first two lines need to continue to lead the way in order for the Rangers to continue their winning ways on the road. This also includes the intangibles, which include the ability to keep their composure when things are not going well. Such as the case on Saturday night when they gave up two goals that sent the match into overtime. Even with that, the Rangers remained confident.

After the game, Tony D’Angelo stated:

“I don’t think anyone was panicking when we gave up the lead. They had a lot of good chances and Georgiev played real well, but just like we got our goals, they got theirs, and sometimes that’s how the game goes, but we stuck with it and found a way to pick up the extra point.”

A great attitude for a maturing team.

Injury Update

The Rangers will be missing Brendan Lemieux, who will out three to four weeks after sustaining a broken hand on Friday. They recalled Steven Fogarty from Hartford to take his place in a related note. The Maple Leafs are without Ilya Mikheyev, who had surgery to repair an artery in his right wrist and will be out at least three months. The league announced that in the wake Mikheyev’s injury, the NHL’s laceration task force will meet to discuss ways of making the game safer at All-Star weekend.

 

New York Rangers Rediscover Their Power Play, Topple Carolina

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers knew they were heading into a critical stretch of their schedule. Coming off the NHL three-day holiday break, they tinkered with some lines and used some inspired play to down the Carolina Hurricanes 5-3. The Rangers top players came up big as Henrik Lundqvist stopped 39 shots, and Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejed each tallied three points.

Power Play Drought Ends for the New York Rangers

One of the most significant factors of the night was that the Rangers ended their 0-18 streak on the power play, tallying two power-play goals out of five chances. In fact, the entire specials units for the Blueshirts were outstanding as they also killed all five of Carolina’s power-play chances.  Zibanejad scored the two power-play goals and added his third point on an assist for Chris Kreider’s goal.  Panarin had a goal and two assists, giving him 14 points in his past nine games. In fact, the highlight of the night was not a goal, but rather Panarin’s spectacular pass to Ryan Stromme that set up the Ranger’s fifth and final goal.

The critical decision of the game came from the coaching staff, especially the video crew, when Carolina had a would-be first-period game-tying power-play goal by Sebastian Aho overturned after the Rangers challenged for offside. Both teams cited this as a massive momentum shift.   The only negative that came from the game was that forward Brendan Lemieux sustained a fractured hand and would be out indefinitely. In his post-game comments, Head Coach David Quinn didn’t have details on a timeframe for Lemieux’s injury or if the Rangers would recall a forward from Hartford.

Canada Swing Starts in Toronto

The Blueshirts will be back in action tonight when they face Original Six foe the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs also played on Friday, defeating the New Jersey Devils 5-4 in overtime. Toronto suffered a critical injury of their own Friday night when forward Ilya Mikheyev sustained a significant laceration to his wrist in the third period. He was transported to a Newark, NJ hospital for evaluation, and remained there overnight. Late reports stated that Mikheyev is stable and has full feeling in his hand and fingers. Face-off is at 7 pm, and the “Hockey Night in Canada” feature game will be shown on MSG+ and the NHL network.

New York Rangers Face Critical Five Game Stretch

New York Rangers, Artemi Panarin

The New York Rangers are facing a critical five-game stretch coming off the NHL holiday break. The Blueshirts are sitting eight points out of the last wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and must make a strong showing during these key match-ups in order to keep that wild card spot within reach. The challenge for these next five games comes in two parts.

Part One: Back-to-Back Games

The Rangers will face the Carolina Hurricanes in their only home matchup of this stretch. The Hurricanes are 23-13-2 on the season but are facing a two-game losing streak after giving up eight goals in their last game to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The good news for the Rangers is that Carolina has gone 5-22 in the previous 27 meetings in New York.  Nonetheless, the Rangers will have to deal with one of the better offenses in the league. The Blueshirts will then travel to Toronto on Saturday to face the Maple Leafs in an Original Six, “Hockey Night in Canda” matchup. The Leafs defeated the Rangers last week 6-3 at MSG.

Part Two: Trip to Western Canada

Leaving their golf clubs behind, the Blueshirts head out west for three games against Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver.  These teams sit in third, fourth, and fifth places, respectively, in the mediocre Pacific Division.

On New Year’s Eve, while many of us are preparing to watch the ball drop in Times Square, The Rangers will square off with the Oilers in a 9 PM (ET) face-off. After a strong start to the season, the Oilers are 3-6-1 over the last ten games. On January 2nd, the Rangers will travel to Calgary to face the Flames, who have been shutout twice in their previous five games. The Rangers will then be the late game feature for “Hockey Night in Canada” when they travel to Vancouver on January 4th for a 10 PM (ET) game against the Canucks.  Vancouver came into the holiday break on a three-game win streak, with their most recent victory coming against Edmonton.  We will all get a clear idea of where the Rangers playoff hopes stand after these five games.

 

New York Rangers Keeping Tabs on Five Prospects During World Juniors

New York Rangers

The New York Rangers brass will have a little extra duty during the holiday season as they monitor the process of five Rangers prospects as they participate in the current U20 World Championships. The 2020 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ostrava and Trinec, Czech Republic, is taking place from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2020. Here is a look at the five prospects that are on rosters:

Nils Lundkvist

The Swedish defenseman was selected in the first round, 28th overall, of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft by the Rangers. Lundkvist has had a nice season with his Swedish Junior team. As he left his club team for the World Juniors camp, he was third in scoring among defensemen in the SHL. In 24 games, he has totaled 17 points.  Many feel that he could be playing over here as soon as next season.

K’Andre Miller

Here is a little quick fact about Miller: He was a child model appearing in Target ads and was even cast in a Honda commercial that featured former Rangers Mike Richter and Pat LaFontaine. This, of course, was before the Rangers took Miller with their second of three first-round picks in the 2018 NHL draft, at No. 22 overall. He had only been playing defense full time for the previous two seasons when he was drafted. Being converted from forward, he has the size, athleticism and tremendous skating ability to be a top defenseman. He was recently named as an alternate captain for the United States team.

Karl Henriksson

The Swedish center plays for Frölunda HC J20 in the J20 SuperElit league and will suit up for the Swedes in the World Juniors. The New York Rangers selected him in the second round of the 2019 Draft.  Hockeyprospect.com has stated that his hands are soft and he can stickhandle well in tight situations and move the puck an inch to make a perfect tape-to-tape pass. Henriksson tallied a goal in Sweden’s pre-tournament game Monday against the United States.

Zachary Jones

The UMass/Amherst defenseman was born in the small town of Glenn Allen, Virginia to a minor pro hockey equipment manager who had his son in skates at an early age.  The USHL 2018-19 Rookie of the Year was drafted by the Rangers in the third round, 68th overall. The scouting report on Jones says that he has excellent vision and hockey IQ that makes him such a versatile player that can be used in all situations. It does not appear that Jones will be paired much with fellow future Blueshirt K’Andre Miller, but Rangers fans would love to see what this pairing could do together.

Nico Gross

The New York Rangers fourth-round pick in 2018 is entering into his third U20 WJC for Switzerland and has served as captain at other international tournaments.  The defenseman currently plays for the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. One of his highlights this year was scoring a hat trick on Oct 4 against New Brunswick.  Gross is generally described as a mobile, physical and intelligent player.

Ranger fans who do not wait until Friday to see some hockey can watch the United States playing Canada on Dec. 26 at 1 p.m. ET, which is the first day of the tournament.  The NHL Network will carry that game as well as all of the US preliminary games.

New York Rangers Are Asking Santa for Two Things This Christmas

New York Rangers

In an attempt not to be too greedy, the New York Rangers have narrowed down their wish list for Santa. After taking a look at what has transpired most recently, the Blueshirts are asking old St. Nick for the officials to be a little more fair with their calls and to obtain a sniper mentality on the power play. These do not seem too out of reach for a team that has mostly stayed off the naughty list this season.

“Our players need to be treated equally.”

The New York Rangers need to be treated with honesty and respect:

It is one thing for the twitter universe and even some in the media to complain about the calls. But when you have the head coach commenting on it, especially after a win, one needs to take notice. In his post-game comments after Sunday’s win against the Ducks, Head Coach David Quinn wished that referees would be fair with his players, especially Brandon Lemieux.

“I just wish he’d get treated a little bit differently than he (Lemieux) has lately. I just want all of our players to be treated equal. Sometimes it doesn’t seem that way with him.”

Quinn could have been referring to a questionable call at the end of the second period of the Anaheim game when Lemieux got a 10-minute misconduct for a little nudge and a shin tap to the Ducks’ Carter Rowney. This followed a December 17th game in Nashville when Quinn got a mid-game apology from referees Frederick L’Ecuyer and Jean Hebert for their poor performance.

“Shoot the Puck!”

It is a common phrase that players hear, but in the case of the New York Rangers, this appears to be a solid recommendation for the Blueshirts power-play units.  After Monday’s loss to the Flyers, the power-play unit is now 0-for-18 over its last five games. At times the power play more resembles the Harlem Globetrotters, as the puck gets passed around quite a bit before a shot is even attempted.  Quinn pointed this out recently when he stated that:

“We get it, we hold it, we stick-handle it, we look for a pretty pass instead of just moving it around and playing hockey within a power play.”

Defenseman Tony DeAngelo has stated that even his parents have told him and his teammates to shoot more. Quinn has stated that he will use the three days off to make some changes in an attempt to make the power play more efficient.