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Why is Kevin Klein still playing, but more importantly, why isn’t Adam Clendening?

Bobby Bevilacqua

adam-clendening-full-body

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

To say that Kevin Klein’s season has been a disaster is an understatement.

Last night was another awful game for the veteran defender, continuing his shocking regression from the last two seasons. Sure he scored a goal, his first of the season, but Klein is not here for his slap shot. The defensive part of his game this season has been a mess, and that’s what’s really important.

Poor puck management on the blue line is a continued problem 50 games into the season, and there’s really been no effort to try and change things up to improve transitions, breakout, and puck management. The same problems pop up every game and they are the main reason for why the Rangers have come up short in their losses. Read the rest of this entry

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Rangers should use the second half to audition Ryan Graves

Bobby Bevilacqua

ryan-graves-wolf-pack

Photo courtesy of Chris Rutsch/Hartford Wolf Pack.

It’s no secret that for a large portion of the season, the defense has been the biggest issue for the Rangers. Sure, it’s been better over the last week or two, but the defensive deficiencies and inability to make three balanced pairings has been the biggest source of problems so far.

To recap: Dan Girardi hasn’t been much better than last season, Kevin Klein has been far worse than last season, and the other players haven’t been spectacular either. Ryan McDonagh has done his best to carry this team, but has had some bad games and is often dragged down when partnered with Girardi and Klein. Holden has been a steadying force, Staal is okay and Skjei has had an encouraging rookie season with the expected rookie mistakes and growing pains.

Regardless of what you think about the defensive corps, which also includes Adam Clendening, the bottom line is that they haven’t been able to get the job done on a consistent basis and have cost the Rangers more games than they’ve won. With Marc Staal out, the Rangers have been able to test out Clendening and while we’ve seen some good things from him, he’s not the solution to their problems. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers begin back-to-back set with matinee matchup against the Red Wings

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-red-wings-10-19

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

  • New York Rangers (29-16-1, 59 Points) vs Detroit Red Wings (20-19-7, 47 Points)
  • The Rangers are coming off of an impressive 5-2 win over the Maple Leafs. Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves, while Brady Skjei, Pavel Buchnevich, JT Miller and Michael Grabner (2 goals) all scored.
  • The Red Wings enter today’s game coming off of a 3-2 overtime loss against the Buffalo Sabres. Detroit is 4-3-3 in their last 10 games and second to last in the Atlantic Division. However, due to the competitiveness of the Eastern Conference this year, they are just four points behind Toronto for the second wild card and five points behind Boston for third place in the Atlantic.

THE MATCHUP

  • This is the second of three meetings between these teams this season, and the first of two at the Joe Louis Arena. Detroit won the first game, 2-1, on Oct. 19 at MSG. Mika Zibanejad scored just over a minute into the game, but goals from Thomas Vanek and Drew Miller gave Detroit the win.
  • The Rangers have earned at least one point in nine of their last 11 games against the Red Wings (7-2-2) dating back to Mar. 21, 2012.
  • Goalie Jimmy Howard has been healing from a knee injury over the past month or so, giving Petr Mrazek full control of the starter duties. He’s struggled lately, as his last win in a start came back on Dec. 17 against Anaheim, but he did pick up a win on Wednesday against Boston in relief. Mrazek is 10-11-5 this season with a 3.13 GAA and a .895 save percentage.

DETROIT RED WINGS

  • Thomas Vanek is enjoying a bounce-back season and is leading Detroit offensively this season, with 31 points (12-19-31) in 35 games this season. His seven game point streak ended in the loss to Buffalo, but he has 10 points (5-5-10) in the last eight games, and 14 points (7-7-14) in the last 13 games.
  • Henrik Zetterberg is also enjoying a nice season as the 36 year old captain continues his lengthy career with Detroit. In 46 games, he’s second on the team with 31 points (9-22-31), and his 22 assists lead the team.
  • Defenseman Mike Green is having a strong second season in Detroit. He’s scoring a lot more consistently, and a lot more at even strength as well. Green has eight goals and 22 points.

NEW YORK RANGERS

  • Henrik Lundqvist will start tonight. It’s unknown if he will also be in net tomorrow against the Kings, but he will continue to start today with Antti Raanta out. Lundqvist made 23 saves on 25 shots for his 19th win of the season. Now Lundqvist needs to work on building consistency in his starts and stringing together wins. Lundqvist has had success against Detroit in the past, with a 5-1-1 record and a 1.26 GAA with a .956 save percentage against them dating back to Mar. 21, 2012. This season he is 19-12-1 with a 2.86 GAA and a .902 save percentage.
  • Pavel Buchnevich scored in the win over the Maple Leafs, giving him 14 points in 14 NHL games. He’s been absolutely phenomenal since returning from back spasms, recording five points (2-3-5) in those four games. He also extended his point streak to eight games, with 12 points (6-6-12) in that span.
  • JT Miller scored his 15th goal of the season, putting him just seven shy of his career high already. Miller has been one of the most consistent forwards on the Rangers, spreading out his scoring and recording a point in 26 of the team’s games. Miller has a point in eight of the last nine games (6-5-11) and leads the team with four shorthanded goals.
  • Michael Grabner scored twice against Toronto, including a shorthanded goal, as he continues his resurgent scoring season. Signed for under $2 million, Grabner has given the Rangers another depth offensive scoring piece and leads the team with 21 goals. He’s been a phenomenal addition to the team offensively, defensively and on the penalty kill.
  • Adam Clendening is developing more chemistry with Brady Skjei the more that the two play together. While Clendening does have his defensive issues, he’s certainly not as bad as Kevin Klein, and he also provides some other good skills and traits. His assist in the win over Toronto game him eight points (1-7-8) this season, and he has points in each of the last two games and four of the last five games. Clendening has recorded a point in seven of the last 11 games in which he has played.

The Rangers and Red Wings will faceoff at 12:30 PM at the Joe Louis Arena. The game will be broadcasted on NBC.

EXPECTED LINEUP

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Rick Nash-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich

Michael Grabner-Kevin Hayes-JT Miller

Jimmy Vesey-Oscar Lindberg-Brandon Pirri

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Nick Holden-Kevin Klein

Brady Skjei-Adam Clendening

Henrik Lundqvist

My Thoughts and the Rangers’ outlook after a catastrophic loss to the Dallas Stars

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-stars-1-17

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

1. There is nothing positive that should be taken from this game. This cannot be viewed as a look at the Rangers’ resiliency or battling through adversity and nearly completing a comeback. There should be no positive light shed on this game, and it needs to be treated as it was – a disaster.

The Rangers were manhandled by the Stars for 40 minutes, and they looked absolutely lost on the ice. They were outshot 27-15 and surrendered seven goals. Henrik Lundqvist was not at his best but there were consistent defensive issues from the defensemen and the forwards, which did not help at all. The Rangers woke up for the third period and the Stars went into a defensive shell, which explains the 25-4 shot advantage from New York in those 20 minutes. Winning one period but looking pathetic for the other two does not warrant any praise. Treating this game as anything other than a failure would be to ignore the many, many problems that this team has.

2. To emphasize, this team has many, many problems. There needs to be a change, or many changes, but not at forward. It’s not a coincidence that the scoring has gone up with the return of Rick Nash, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. This is the best, most complete forward group that the Rangers have had in quite some time and it’s a group of forwards that could win a Stanley Cup. Read the rest of this entry

Halfway there: Evaluating the Rangers at the midpoint of the season

Bobby Bevilacqua

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Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

We’re officially halfway through the Rangers season, and it’s been a pretty good start despite some injuries, rough stretches and a lot of new players for Alain Vigneault to figure out and utilize properly.

With a 27-13-1 record along with practically same defensive unit as last season, the Rangers have probably exceeded most people’s expectations. Their 55 points are tied with the Penguins for second in the division, as well as being tied for the second most points in the entire league (Pittsburgh has played three fewer games). The Blue Jackets sit in first in the division and the league thanks to their incredible 16 game win streak that stretched from late November into January.

Given the situation with all of the forward injuries, the first half of the season has been a big success. There have been some issues and rough patches, like with just about every team, but it’s hard not to come away with more positives than negatives. Read the rest of this entry