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Michael Grabner – Unlikely Scoring Sensation for the NYR

Luanne Duncan

For those who didn’t see, I posted a brief recap of last night’s game against Winnipeg. You can read that HERE.

michael-grabner-skating-10-6

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

If NY Ranger fans and analysts were asked at the start of this season, who would be leading the NYR in goal scoring after 13 games, who would be the top pick?  Mats Zuccarello?  Chris Kreider?  Maybe one of the new kids – Jimmy Vesey or Pavel Buchnevich?  Wrong, wrong and wrong.  The answer is the surprise pick-up of the year, #40, Michael Grabner. The NYR acquired the 29 year old Austrian native from Toronto on July 1st to little fanfare.  Grabner fetched a 2 year, $3.3M contract which is turning out to be the deal of the century for what this guy is now producing.

Most fans, if they even recognized the name at all, remember Grabner from playing five years with the NY Islanders.  In 2010-2011, his first and best season with the rival franchise, he garnered 34 goals and 18 assists in 76 games. In September 2015 he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs.  In 80 games there, he scored a paltry 9 goals and 9 assists. It was no surprise he was not able to contribute significantly to the offensively challenged team ranked near the bottom of the league in goal scoring. However, with the way Grabs is currently playing for the Rangers, he is set to blow his best season stats out of the rink.Hockey fans may not know that during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Grabner represented Team Austria. Grabner led Austria in scoring and scored a hat trick against Team Finland. Although Austria didn’t make it past the qualification playoff round, amazingly enough Grabner finished tied for first overall in goal-scoring (5) with Phil Kessel.

Grabner’s supreme advantage is his incredible speed.  Grabner has previously won the NHL’s fastest skater event at the 2011 All-Star skills competition.  His ability to tear down the ice and beat defenders to the puck is possibly better than Kreider’s, even Hagelin’s.  Off ice, he spends a substantial amount of time in the gym doing core circuit training, weight training, cycling and jumping drills.

Grabner leads the Rangers right now in goals with 7, and is currently tied for second in goal scoring for the entire league with the likes of Ovechkin and Stamkos. Only three other players, one being Sidney Crosby have more goals. With 10 points total in 13 games, Grabner is +13 on the ice with a 29.2% shooting percentage.  Another big advantage is he’s logged ZERO penalty minutes.

Playing wing on the explosive third line with Kevin Hayes and JT Miller, the three dynamic forwards are current point leaders for the NYR.  This line is proving to be exceptional with 35 points in 13 games. If they can keep this up, we won’t be shocked to see the line promoted and given more playing minutes.

The Rangers are on a five game winning streak thanks to newfound speed from the likes of Grabner and his young teammates. The team leads the league in goals and is second in total points. The power play is greatly improved as well as passing and puck possession. Faceoffs are no longer cringe-worthy thanks to the skill of Mika Zibanejad and the improvement of Kevin Hayes. Henrik Lundqvist has seven wins and Antti Raanta is stellar at three wins in 3 games played. He has the best stats currently as a back-up netminder.  Of course it is still very early and there is plenty of hockey to be played.  But the progress all over the ice is evident and tremendously encouraging. Fans hope to see more of the electrifying play they’ve witnessed this past week, with five straight wins and five or more goals scored in each of those wins.  The Rangers face all Canadian teams for the next week including Vancouver on Tuesday.

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Posted on November 7, 2016, in In the Crease and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I’m actually not that surprised to see Grabner doing so well. I wasn’t thinking he would be scoring like this but I did think he would be having a season more like his early days. The reasons why are he’s now playing with better talent then he was with Toronto and he’s also back in New York where he played for 5 years so he’s familiar with everything and there’s no big adjustments needed. He’s also looking to show he can still play I’m sure and I would think he feels great to be on a good team now. This is like having Hags back with the ability to finish plays better. I remember Hags coming in on breakaways but not finishing many times. I don’t how long the scoring will keep up but I do think he will be a big help on the PK and other ways.

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