Last season saw the emergence of many good rookies, such as Jack Eichel, Filip Forsberg, Artemi Panarin and Connor McDavid. But Shayne Gostisbehere of the Philadelphia Flyers was one of the most exciting and promising players to emerge from last year.
Gostisbehere was coming off of a 2014-15 season where he tore his ACL and played just five AHL games. The Union College grad played in a full-time role for the first time last season, featuring in 64 games and scoring 17 goals and 29 assists (46 points). The 17 goals was a Flyers record for goals by a rookie defenseman. He also had a 15-game scoring streak, which was the longest by a defenseman in the last 20 years, and also was the first rookie to score four overtime goals.
He played on the top pairing against some of the top players in the league and was certainly a strong and effective defender. He was lauded for his ability to transition quickly, easily able to recover from a turnover and get back on defense. A great skater, an excellent passer and scorer, and a power play quarter back (8-14-22 on the power play last season), Gostisbehere had the look of an elite defenseman. Read the rest of this entry
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
Yesterday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers saw Matt Puempel make his debut as a Ranger just three days after he was claimed off of waivers. He had no points and a minus-five rating in 13 games with the Senators, but Vigneault gave him an opportunity on the fourth line.
It wound up paying off, as the 23-year-old former first round pick played a pretty good game, skating for 12 minutes and scoring a goal. Puempel described himself as an offensive player (213 points in 195 OHL games) and that he was looking forward to a fresh start. Perhaps that’s just what he needed, as a change of scenery can do wonders for a player.
But Puempel’s insertion into the lineup meant that Oscar Lindberg was the healthy scratch. Lindberg has played mostly out of necessity because of injuries, and has only appeared in nine of the team’s 22 games, recording no goals and one assists. Read the rest of this entry
The topic of discussion for the Rangers seems to consistently be about the defense and how the current group of guys is seemingly not enough to win the Stanley Cup. Aging veterans and a lack of a true puck-moving defenseman have made things hard on the Rangers.
On Sunday, Dan Girardi made his return to the lineup against the Coyotes and wound up scoring the game winner on a bullet of a shot from the point. As a result on him returning, Adam Clendening was scratched. There’s been a lot of bad blood on Twitter between bloggers and fans about criticizing Girardi, so I’d like to clarify my stance.
I don’t think Girardi is awful and I don’t think he’s worthy of a healthy scratch. But I do think that he has to stay on the third pairing with sheltered minutes. He’s certainly capable in that role, but simply cannot fulfill the duties of a top pairing defensemen getting big minutes anymore. It comes with age and that’s expected. Also, nobody that criticizes wants him to do bad or is happy to see him struggle. It’s just more frustrating to see him struggle in a role that he shouldn’t be placed in, which isn’t his fault. Read the rest of this entry
Through four games this season, the Rangers are doing fine with a 2-2-0 record. Although there was a lot of hype built up around the forwards and the youth movement GM Jeff Gorton seems to be going for, given the state of the defense this is a pretty good start.
While it’s only been four games and things can change in a flash, there should be a sense of confidence throughout the locker room and among the fans. I wasn’t expecting to have this much fun watching the Rangers this year, but from what I’ve seen so far, they have me really excited for not only the future, but seeing how far this forward group can carry the team this season.
So far, the Rangers have scored 15 goals in four games this season, and that was with the team scoring just one two days ago against the Red Wings. The 12 goals allowed is a little higher than many would have hoped for, but that was somewhat expected when you have Nick Holden as your top pairing defenseman playing on his offside. Read the rest of this entry