This is the first Mailbag of the 2016-17 season, a series of articles I do where I ask my readers to submit questions and I answer them to the best of my ability.
This series is all about you, so I urge you to ask any questions you have, especially about the Rangers, to help this series become full of content.
Thanks to everyone that participated, and be sure to keep your eyes out for my next edition of the Mailbag article. I’m hoping to do this every two or three weeks.
On to the questions!
Do you feel like the Rangers need to add a solid defenseman in order to make a legit Cup run? – Jason Fristensky
This is a question that has come up often over the last few years, and especially during this offseason. Almost every year I would answer with a resounding yes. But this year, my answer varies depending on your definition of “solid defenseman.”
Two years ago, we saw the Rangers trade for dynamic offensive defenseman Keith Yandle. He was very effective for them, but ultimately was not a difference maker when it came to trying to win a Cup. Most of that has to do with how Alain Vigneault uses defensemen, and how he tends to lean on his shutdown guys.
I am also impressed with how the defense has played to this point. At first, I was expecting this season to look something like how the Rangers played during last season’s winter months, which was a disaster on the backend. But a full season has had a positive effect on Dan Girardi and Marc Staal, as well as for keeping guys like Ryan McDonagh fresh. Nick Holden has improved over the last few weeks and Brady Skjei has been miles better than anticipated, which certainly helps. Read the rest of this entry
The Rangers (12-4-0) started off their two game road trip with back-to-back contests against the Flames and the Oilers, picking up two wins after a strange game last night in Edmonton.
Chris Kreider missed the game with what the team is calling an “upper body injury,” and just minutes before the game, it was announced that Pavel Buchnevich wouldn’t play because of back spasms. So Vigneault had to dress Adam Clendening in order to reach the required 18 skaters.
Somehow, someway the team managed to grind out a 3-1 win to pick up their 12th win of the season, and their seventh win in the last eight games. Antti Raanta was spectacular in his fifth start of the season, making 38 saves and improving to 4-0-0 with a .938 save percentage. Michael Grabner scored another two goals, giving him 10 this season, and Dan Girardi scored his third goal, which was the game winner. Read the rest of this entry
Following a 4-1 win over Calgary to begin their road trip, the Rangers (11-4-0) will finish off their back-to-back series tonight against the Edmonton Oilers (9-5-1) when they head to the new Rogers Place for the first time.
The Rangers offense was back to normal again despite only managing 28 shots on goal, scoring four against Brian Elliot and the Flames and getting an outstanding performance from Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 35 shots. Michael Grabner, Derek Stepan, Jimmy Vesey and Pavel Buchnevich scored for New York, and 10 players recorded a point.
The Oilers have lost their last two games, one goal defeats against the Penguins and the Stars, but still sit atop the Pacific Division with 19 points. Read the rest of this entry
The Rangers (8-3-0) scored another five goals, using a late comeback to take down Cam Talbot and the Edmonton Oilers (7-3-1), and winning 5-3.
The Rangers win meant a sweep of their three game homestand, outscoring opponents 16-4 over the three games. The Oilers put up the best effort, holding the lead or maintaining a tie for 58 minutes of the game.
Kevin Hayes, Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast, Rick Nash and JT Miller were the goalscorers, marking yet another night where the depth shone through and multiple players scored goals. The defense was good enough for the most part and Lundqvist was passable.
Here’s my recap; Read the rest of this entry
The Rangers (7-3-0) will look to sweep their three game homestand tonight when they take on the surprisingly good Edmonton Oilers (7-2-1) for the first time this season.
The Rangers have won the first two games of this homestand by a combined score of 11-1, recording the first shutout of the season Tuesday night against the Blues thanks to Henrik Lundqvist’s 35 save performance.
This is the first matchup between the Rangers and the Oilers this season, and the only one at Madison Square Garden. The teams split the season series last year, with the home team winning each game. The Rangers scored at least four goals in each of the games and a total of nine. Rick Nash led the team with five points (2-3-5) while Mats Zuccarello tallied a pair of goals and assists. Read the rest of this entry