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Blog Archives

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

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Trading Grabner before the expansion draft might be necessary

Bobby Bevilacqua

michael-grabner-full-body-9-29

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Out of all of the new additions the Rangers added to their team this offseason, Michael Grabner has blown expectations out of the water. Along with defenseman Nick Holden, these two have helped provide offense and consistent two-way play on cheap, cap-friendly contracts.

When Grabner was signed to a two-year deal, it seemed like he would wind up being a fourth line player who is great at killing penalties and could chip in with some offense. The stories about how he scored 34 goals in his rookie season, 20 goals another year and then 16 goals in the 2012-13 lockout season popped up, as did the ones about how he was fast but couldn’t score on breakaways or finish his chances.

Fast forward to today, and Michael Grabner leads the team with 19 goals after being awarded a hat trick in the Jan. 7 win over the Blue Jackets. That was his second hat trick of the year, and he now has more goals than Evgeni Malkin, Joe Pavelski, Connor McDavid, James Neal, Phil Kessel and more. Read the rest of this entry

Nick Holden becoming an important, steady force on defense

Bobby Bevilacqua

nick-holden

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

It seems like the biggest complaints regarding the Rangers tend to be about the defense, at least in recent years. Whether it’s the contracts, poor play or possession or something else, there tends to be an issue that is touched upon.

At the beginning of the year, all of the negativity was focused on Nick Holden. To some extent, it was deserved because Holden looked pretty shaky. Vigneault was playing him on his off side while he adapted to a new system and a new team. His possession numbers were bad and he didn’t look like the steady player that Patrick Roy lauded.

But lately, Holden has become one of the team’s most consistent and reliable defenseman for quite a stretch now. This doesn’t mean that he hasn’t had his lapses or issues at all, but those mistakes have been few and far between. Read the rest of this entry

Zibanejad injury sets Kevin Hayes up for a breakout season

Bobby Bevilacqua

kevin-hayes-goal-celebration-11-23

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

When Mika Zibanejad went down in overtime against the Florida Panthers, you knew it was bad.

Thankfully, the Rangers’ offseason acquisition only suffered a broken fibula, sidelining him for the next six to eight weeks. I say only because with the way he went into the boards, it could easily have been a shattered ankle, torn tendon or a messed up knee.

I like to think that I’m a bit of an optimist, so there was a bit of a silver lining to his injury. The first was that it’s a clean break, which is better when it comes to healing. The other positive out of this awful injury is the fact that Kevin Hayes will get a huge opportunity to grow and develop in a top six role. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers recall Cristoval “Boo” Nieves from Hartford

Bobby Bevilacqua

boo-nieves-full-body-10-6

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

This afternoon, New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced that the team has recalled Cristoval Nieves from the Hartford Wolf Pack, and he will join the team immediately.

Nieves has skated in 13 games with Hartford, registering a goal and five assists, putting him third on the team in points and second in assists. He has recorded four assists/points in the last seven games and is the only member of the Wolf Pack to not have a penalty called against him. In 21 career AHL games, he has a total of three goals and 11 points. Read the rest of this entry