Tag Archives: New York Rangers

Boston’s College Hockey Products

College hockey is a sport like no other, where you can get drafted and return to your school. I’m looking at Charlie McAvoy of Boston University getting his shot at the big time. McAvoy was a top pick of the Bruins in last year’s NHL draft and has made an immediate impact on the Bruins.

Boston, plagued by injuries, was forced to drain a year of the kids entry level deal. A move that was crushed by many has actually panned out. It’s truly unbelievable what this kid can do with the little pro experience he has.

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This has happened before actually with another Boston product. It previously occurred with Chris Krieder of B.C. when he debuted for the New York Rangers. Krieder, like Charlie, was an immediate player for the Rangers and made a splash in the playoffs against the Ottawa Senators.

Teams who have players like this cannot always take these chances. But to me, it shows that teams in the Boston area for college hockey really know how to groom their guys. Groom them to the point where in one year, they can get up to the next level and make a big impact.

This to me why other college sports could take note of this. Maybe these players, if given the opportunity, could stick around and gain the valuable experience needed to rise to the occasion at the pro level.

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Ain’t that Nash-ty? 

New York would be a better hockey team without Rick Nash.

There, I said it.

Before you sic the dogs on me, allow me to state my case.

Rick Nash is a phenomenal hockey player, a game changer if you will. In his time, he has scored his fair share of highlight reel goals. But, the transition from dull and drab Columbus, Ohio to the tantalizing lights of New York City has been anything but a dream come true.

A lot was known about Nash when he was selected first overall by the Blue Jackets in 2002. He was big, had an absurd reach and the speed and skill that honestly kills. However, what wasn’t known has turned out to be his biggest flaw. Instead of being a force to be reckoned with in the post season, he takes on the form of a ghost. Disappearing offensively for games and in most cases, series on end.

Aside from the 2008-09 appearance in the playoffs which he potted 3 points in four games with the Blue Jackets (which in it of itself is nothing to bat an eyelash at), the real damage comes after the 2012-13 season

Since becoming a Ranger, Nash has played in 61 post season games. Tallying 33 points, only 11 of them are goals. Hardly a player who bleeds the clutch gene.

While the post season may not be his best friend, Nash has no problem seeing himself anywhere in between the mid 20 to 40 goal mark during the regular season. That is of course, if you don’t factor in last season. In 60 games Nash was only able to string together 36 points, which is even worse when you factor in that Benoit Pouliot, Alex Tanguay and Anton Stralman were all in the same sphere.

I’m a guy that likes to string the bad with the good, so in his defense, when Nash plays at least 70 games he’s in the 30-40 goal discussion in his career. But, can we still consider him an elite player?

Yes, his 42 goal campaign two seasons ago is more than enough to silence my somewhat lopsided argument. But I digress, you cannot argue that when you hold 2014-15 and 2015-16 beside one another, there’s a huge disparity between the two.

Regardless, the fact remains. New York cut off a sizable chunk of it’s player pool to acquire Nash from Columbus. This was also the same offseason to which they made the conference finals with what appeared to be a more than capable group on it’s own. So was it worth it?

Nash was billed as one of the best and brightest stars in the game. That being said, it didn’t take long for the bright lights of New York City to show us that Nash certainly isn’t a playoff producer.

With that firmly in mind, what exactly is Nash? In games 1-82 you know exactly what you will get from the titanic winger, but that begins to fog over come the spring.

Simply put, the Rangers are going to need more out of him when they make it back to the playoffs. If Nash hiccups again, especially without Derek Brassard, the championship window in the city that never sleeps may have just been put to rest.

 

 

Metropolitan Division Prediction

Summer and hockey go together like peanut butter and mayonnaise, forcing us hockey folk to pray for October to come every night before bed. Twice on Sundays because it’s the Sabbath.

In order to keep mental health on a steady line, fans stay preoccupied with the who, what, where and why of their favorite team.

If in fact that team belongs to the Metropolitan Division, please read along and offer your less than productive feedback in the comments below.

Sensing the less than subtle trend?

Once again, to keep suspense at a premium, we’ll go in reverse order because I know what keeps people on the edge of their seat.

8. Carolina Hurricanes: 35-31-16; A decade has past since Carolina last won a Stanley Cup and seven years since their last trip to the conference final. Last and certainly the most important, they have failed to qualify for the postseason since that previously mentioned date.

What should come as no surprise is the fact that almost no improvement has been made since their last appearance. Exemplified by the previous five seasons.

However, there is plenty of room to grow in 2017. Jeff Skinner, Noah Hanifin, Justin Faulk, Teuvo Teravainen and Victor Rask will have the greatest impact. While Jordan Staal, Lee Stempniak and Bryan Bickell will round out the bottom.

Cam Ward will find himself in the middle of trade rumors all season long. While Eddie Lack will be soul searching for his performances he had while a backup in Vancouver.

Carolina’s biggest Achilles Heel is the division they play in. As you read on you’ll begin to agree. As cliche as it may sound, their season will be made depending on how well they play against divisional opponents.

That being said, sell low on Carolina. But go to the PNC Arena when your favorite team is in town, the weather is unbeatable.

7. Columbus Blue Jackets: 34-40-8; For all of Columbus’s hard work last season, their less than noteworthy record resulted in a last place finish in their division. With recording over 40 wins in back to back seasons prior to 2015-16, 34 wins was a noticeable set back.

John Tortorella found himself back behind an NHL bench for the first time since his disastrous attempt at coaching Vancouver in 2014. While Columbus appeared to be motivated by the change, it wasn’t good enough to get back to the playoffs.

Ryan Johansen was at odds with Tortorella to the point that management traded him straight up for Nashville’s Seth Jones.

Moving into 2017, Seth Jones may be the blueprint to the plan that moves this team forward. After all, in order to attract top tier talent, you need a top tier player.

Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Boone Jenner, Seth Jones and Brandon Saad make up the untouchables of the group. But there are still many holes to fill, including an above average backup to support Sergei Bobrovsky when he undoubtedly gets hurt at the most inopportune time.

Truth be told it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if this team finds itself well above where I placed them…but don’t hold your breath.

6. New York Islanders: Fully aware of the impressive 45-27-10 record that the Islanders posted, the one thing that bothers me about the them is this past offseason.

The hammer of the salary cap smashed down on New York’s hand. Both Kyle Okposo and Matt Martin were passed on via free agency because they boasted more currency than they appeared to be worth.

While on paper, Okposo may be the most important player. Don’t undermine the importance of a guy like Matt Martin. He lead the league in hits for half a decade and scored 10 goals last year. A pivotal part of the Islanders fourth line, often considered to be the best in the league. What made the Isles’ so lucky was their ability to play their fourth line against the oppositions top lines. Supporting my ongoing argument that a coach needs four confident lines to be successful.

Aside from that, the chemistry between John Tavares and Kyle Okposo being broken up may spell instant disaster moving forward.

With that being said, can they fill the gaps?

One thing is for sure, two time Stanley Cup champion Andrew Ladd adds instant experience to the lineup. Doubt remains whether he will be the Andrew Ladd in Winnipeg or the Andrew Ladd that returned to Chicago this past season.

Expect the Isles’ to be nipping at the heels of our next team.

5. New Jersey Devils: Hard to believe this happened four years ago. Even harder to believe New Jersey has failed to qualify for the post season since. Actually, no its not. Both Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk left in a span of a single season following that feat.

So 38-36-8 last season begins to make more sense. What ruins New Jersey is how solid they are in their forward department but for years have been in desperate need of a number one guy to take the game over. They don’t score many goals.

Now they have him. Taylor Hall wasn’t just the second overall pick in 2010, he is the life saver New Jersey needs.

Cory Schneider will back stop a team that will make a marathon of improvements from years past. Destined to hurdle the 40 win mark, New Jersey may be the sneaky good hockey team that should invest in itself at the trade deadline.

One thing is for sure, Travis Zajac will be a happy man now that he has a dynamic wing to flank him once again.

4. New York Rangers: Accumulating over 100 points during the regular season two years in a row should be reason enough to assume that the Rangers are a shoe in for the playoffs. Now, normally I would agree, but from what I saw in last years playoffs, I have to disagree.

While their first round matchup with Pittsburgh is no small task. New York looked overwhelmed and confused as they attempted to keep up with Pittsburgh’s speed.

Signing college standout Jimmy Vesey is a step in the right direction but for the long term, I’m not entirely sure how open their championship window is.

An aging all world goaltender, a top heavy forward core anchored around Rick Nash who repeatedly has failed to produce in the playoffs, and falling back on a stacked defensive core to bail themselves out caught up with them this past spring.

After two deep runs in the playoffs in 2014 and 2015, 2016 was an utter disappointment considering New York has seen a lot of the Penguins in the playoffs over the years. Which makes last season all the more upsetting for the blue shirt faithful.

The Rangers will be one of the better teams in the league, but that dominance you’ve seen over the last three seasons may begin to slip away.

3. Philadelphia Flyers:  Relax, even Brendan Burns agrees the Flyers should be ahead of the Rangers. 41 wins and 96 points last season for a team that failed to qualify for the post season in two out of the prior three seasons is a huge turnaround.

In typical Flyers form, they weren’t even in the playoff picture until the last month or less of the regular season. Jumping on the collective efforts of Claude Groux, Wayne Simmons, Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek and a youngster by the name of Shayne Gostisbehere.

Philly hasn’t been the same since Chris Pronger was forced into retirement from his injuries. Ever since he retired, the mission to find a number one defensemen has been their priority.

Moving forward, the core of players mentioned earlier will carry this team. But my eye remains on Steve Mason to have a quick rebound year from last season. The responsibility of success falls entirely on his shoulders at the end of the day.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins: With two Stanley Cups under his belt, Sidney Crosby now has wiggle room to move out from underneath Mario Lemieux’s shadow. But Phil Kessel deserved to be the playoff MVP, I’m sorry but also not sorry. Anyone with a fully functional pair of eyes could see that.

Moving our attention to the team itself, Pittsburgh went roaring into the 2016 playoffs experiencing consistent recoil only from the Tampa Bay Lightning. During the Stanley Cup final, the Penguins outplayed San Jose for basically the entirety of the 6 game series.

Crosby elevated his game but it was the play of the ‘HBK’ line that stole the show on a nightly basis. Nick Bonino, Carl Hagelin and Phil Kessel comprised the most dangerous line in hockey. What made them even better was where they were slotted, as a third line the mismatches during the game played in their favor. The competition couldn’t keep up with their speed, allowing guys like Crosby and Malkin to be moved around the roster as needed.

I’m interested to see how Matt Murray will be used along side Marc Andre Fleury. Was Murray lightning in a bottle? Or have we seen the beginning of the end for Fleury in Pittsburgh with the expansion draft coming up next summer?

One thing remains, Pittsburgh has as good a chance as any to be the first team to repeat as champions since the Detroit Red Wings in ’97 and ’98.

1. Washington Capitals: The curse continued. Washington was the most dangerous team in the regular season, but once again failed to keep the momentum flowing when it was most important to do so.

Seven years separated the first and most recent time, the Penguins and Capitals faced off in the playoffs. Similar to the 2009 showdown, Pittsburgh was once again able to withstand the pressure of the situation. Now, Washington takes yet another step back to wonder what exactly went wrong, more importantly how can they improve?

As the regular season rolled on, many chose the Capitals to be the eventual Stanley Cup champions. But in their first round match up with Philadelphia, they came flying out of the gate. When they established their 3-0 series lead over the Flyers, they wondered off the path. Allowing them to come back making it a 3-2 series lead. While Washington eventually pulled through to take the series, doubts resonated.

Weapons are in an abundance in Washington. Leadership, is not.

Especially now that Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera are both out of town. Alex Ovechkin needs to be better, he wears the ‘C’ for a reason. He is their leader offensively, but now he needs to be the leader in the locker room.

The coach, goalie, defensive and offensive core is there. Now Washington needs to find complimentary veteran players to walk through the locker room and corral the youngsters. Players such as Mark Recchi and Bill Guerin don’t grow on trees. But that’s the only piece to the puzzle Washington is missing.

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Metropolitan Division All-Time Greatest Rosters

People often wander what it might be like to cross eras in sports and see what it would be like if certain players had united and played as one. For me though, I want to see what all 30 NHL franchises would look like if they created a roster of that franchises greatest talent. If you missed the first edition of this 4 part series be sure to check out the Atlantic Division article from last week. Without further ado, let’s get into the Metropolitan Division, and then see what the Eastern Conference playoffs would look like.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins:

Forwards

Mario Lemieux-Sidney Crosby-Jaromir Jagr

Evgeni Malkin-Ron Francis-Rick Kehoe

Kevin Stevens-Martin Straka-Mark Recchi

Chris Kunitz-Syl Apps Jr-Joseph Pronovost

Defense

Paul Coffey-Kris Letang

Randy Carlyle-Sergei Gonchar

Ronald Stackhouse-Larry Murphy

Goalie

Marc-Andre Fleury

Oh my Lord. Mario, Sid, and Jags all on one line? Yes yes yes! This team puts the fear of God in me when I look at this all-time roster. Goals will be scored left and right and wins will be plentiful. The supporting cast is impressive too, Geno and Ron Francis on line two is just as dangerous. The bulk of the load with be carried by the first line though, and they are more than up to the task. Defense is also deadly with Coffey and Letang on the first unit, these two can score with the best of them. The question mark on this roster is Marc-Andre Fleury. He is without a doubt the greatest goaltender in Penguins history, but I do not see him as much of a threat in net as say Henrik Lundqvist or Martin Brodeur in this division. The Penguins will compete for the division crown for sure, and they might even be contending for even more.

2. New Jersey Devils:

Forwards

Kirk Muller-Patrik Elias-John Maclean

Zach Parise-Scott Gomez-Jamie Langenbrunner

Aaron Broten-Bobby Holik-Petr Sykora

Jason Arnott-Claude Lemieux-Brian Gionta

Defense

Scott Niedermayer-Scott Stevens

Bruce Driver-Andy Greene

Brian Rafalski-Kenneth Daneyko

Goalie

Martin Brodeur

This is a very good all-time roster. From up front to the goal crease this team has some real firepower. I am slightly biased on this one cause I used to love the Devils back in the early 2000s, and I was really pulling for them to take home the cup in 2012, but I think this team would do really well in an all-time greatest season. The leader of this team, and best player, is Martin Brodeur. Martin Brodeur is the greatest goalie the NHL history. Period. He led the Devils to 3 Stanley Cups championships, and to 5 total Stanley Cup appearances. Brodeur also has 688 career victories, that’s nothing to take lightly, that is incredible. Now to the defense. Scott Stevens will kill you. Scott Stevens will wait for the perfect moment to take you head off as you cross his blue line, just ask Paul Kariya. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sR-hjR0sms) The defesne on this team will smother you, all three lines role deep and can lead a team to a Stanley Cup. Offensively I have no complaints either. Elias, Gomez, Holik, and Lemieux make up an incredible center core and the wingers are spectacular in their own rights as well. I look for the Devils all-time franchise to compete for the division title in the Metro.

3. Philadelphia Flyers:

Forwards

Bill Barber-Bobby Clarke-Tim Kerr

John Leclair-Eric Lindros-Mark Recchi

Brian Propp-Richard Macleish-Reginald Leach

Simon Gagne-Claude Giroux-Mike Richards

Defense

Mark Howe-Eric Desjardins

Kimmo Timonen-Thomas Bladon

Behn Wilson-James Watson

Goalie

Ron Hextall

Heres a team I really like on paper for an all-time greatest season. The Broad Street Bullies as some call them have quite a nice looking team put together here. The Flyers have a rich history, but also a history of not winning the big game, maybe with this roster they can compete for a cup. I think they can absolutely compete, and the number one reason to me is because of Ron Hextall. Hextall is machine in net, and he can take the boys of Philly to the promise land, maybe. The offense is stacked, Claude Giroux on the fourth line…that’s a lineup I would want to have. Bobby Clarke might be the greatest Flyer in history, so you know he will bring his A game nightly. Eric Lindros was one of those guys who was supposed to be the next Wayne Gretzky and because of this his legacy seems tainted, but Lindros can play. I like the way this roster feels, and I think that they can do some serious damage in an all-time greatest season.

4. New York Rangers:

Forwards

Jean Ratelle-Mark Messier-Rod Gilbert

Steve Vickers-Walt Tkaczuk-Andy Bathgate

Adam Graves-Phil Esposito-Don Maloney

Dean Prentice-Vic Hadfield-Anders Hedberg

Defense

Brian Leetch-Brad Park

Ron Greschner-James Patrick

Reijo Ruotsalainen-Bill Gadsby

Goalie

Henrik Lundqvist

If you’re feeling left unsatisfied after viewing this roster, you’re not alone. The New York Rangers have a rich history, but with not so much winning. I wish I could have lived through the Rangers 1994 Stanley Cup run. Mark Messier making a promise to beat the Devils, and the city of New York going bananas at the Rangers victory parade. Mark Messier is by far the heart and soul of this all-time Rangers roster, but these other guys are great too. Many of the names on this list are from the 50s when the game was different. That’s what leaves me hungry for more, I want to see them in action and see what kind of damage they could do on the ice now. I think the Rangers all-time team will be in a dog fight for a playoff spot, but they are not a lock to get in by any means. Brian Leetch and Brad Park make up one of the best defensive duos in the league and of course you cannot go wrong with Hank in net. King Henrik has been one of the best goaltenders in the NHL for a few years now and has lead the Rangers to the top 5 of the league for several years running. This team has all the potential in the world, but can they get it done consistently on game day?

5. New York Islanders:

Forwards

Clark Gillies-Bryan Trottier-Mike Bossy

John Tonelli-Pat Lafontaine-Bobby Nystrom

John Tavares-Brent Sutter-Kyle Okposo

Derek King-Robert Bourne-Frans Nielsen

Defense

Denis Potvin-Tomas Jonsson

Stefan Person-Kenny Jonsson

Mark Streit-Jean Potvin

Goalie

Billy Smith

This team is crawling with talent from the 1979-1983 era of the New York Islanders, and how could it not? 4 Stanley Cups in 4 seasons during that time is remarkable, and a feat that will never be duplicated again in any sport. Mike Bossy is the Islander hockey, look for him to lead them offensively. I also see John Tavares being a force on the ice as well. Yes, Tavares is still young, but he is an amazing athlete who has lead the Islanders back to relevancy since he was drafted number 1 overall in 2009. Defense is a little weaker than most teams. Denis Potvin leads the way for this unit, but outside of him it’s a little rough looking to say the least. Potvin has over 300 career goals to his name so look for him to light the lamp frequently. Billy Smith was the only goalie who even deserved consideration for this job. He was the goalie back in the Islanders hay day, so he is getting the nod from me in an all-time greatest season as the Islanders starter. Contending for a playoff spot with this roster if you ask me.

6. Washington Capitals:

Forwards

Alex Ovechkin-Nicklas Backstrom-Peter Bondra

Michal Pivonka-Dale Hunter-Mike Gartner

Bengt Ake Gustafsson-Mike Ridley-Alexander Semin

Steve Konowalchuk-Dennis Maruk-Dave Christian

Defense

Calle Johansson-Sergei Gonchar

Mike Green-Kevin Hatcher

John Carlson-Larry Murphy

Goalie

Olaf Kolzig

The Washington Capitals have never hoisted the Stanley Cup, and they will not be anytime soon in an all-time greatest season either. Alex Ovechkin is the best player the Caps have ever had, and to be completely honest, I had him. Ovi is a self-centered, non-back checking, Russian missle launcher who cannot win the big game. Ovechkin has all the talent in the world, but he just does not use it all. He puts up a crazy amount of goals, but does not play defense and doesn’t know how to win. This team is by no means bad, but they will definetly not be winning the ultimate prize. The defense is cute to say the least. Mike Green and John Carlson are on the all-time roster, that’s pretty soft if you ask me, but I put them here cause that’s all Washington had to offer. In net is Olie the Goalie, and what a net minder he was. Kolzig is one of my favorite goalies of all-time due to the fight that he and Byron DaFoe engaged in way back when I was just a little tike. I rooted for DaFoe but that is my first memory of an all-out donnybrook, and I have Kolzig to thank for that.

7. Carolina Hurricanes:

Forwards

Rod Brind’Amour-Ron Francis-Kevin Dineen

Ray Whitney-Eric Staal-Pat Verbeek

Erik Cole-Ray Ferraro-Sami Kapanen

Blaine Stoughton-Jeff O’Neill-Geoff Sanderson

Defense

David Babych-Glen Wesley

Mark Howe-Ulf Samuelsson

Justin Faulk-Zarley Zalapski

Goalie

Cam Ward

The Carolina Hurricanes franchise is in a downward spiral these days. Management is a mess, the owners want little part in the team, and relocation discussions are in the air. First off, as a hockey fan, send the Hurricanes to Quebec, they deserve a team. But, this franchise has already relocated once in its history, having moved from Hartford, Connecticut down to Raleigh, North Carolina. With that being said, the Hurricanes and Hartford Whalers franchise makes up a pretty solid all-time greatest roster. When I see this lineup I think blue collar, chip and chase hockey. The Hurricanes peaked in ’06 like most of us, and ever since they really haven’t done too much, except crush Bruins fans hearts in game 7 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The top two lines on this team stack up very nicely in my opinion, having Ron Francis and Eric Staal up the middle is huge for any teams’ success. I do not see the ‘Canes all-time team lighting the lamp at will like some teams, but they have a great defense and an outstanding goalie. Cam Ward was a slam dunk for net for this team, so long as it’s 2006 Cam Ward. As a rookie Cam Ward led the Hurricanes on an absolute thrill ride to the top of the hockey mountain, beating the then good Edmonton Oilers in seven games to capture the crown. Glen Wesley is a household name for any real hockey fan and Justin Faulk is still growing into his own, give this roster a few more years and he would be on the first D unit next to Wesley.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets:

Forwards

Rick Nash-RJ Umberger-David Vyborny

Nick Foligno-Ryan Johansen-Nikolay Zherdev

Sergei Federov-Derick Brassard-Cam Atkinson

Kristian Huselius-Brandon Dubinsky-Antoine Vermette

Defense

Fedor Tyutin-James Wisniewski

Rostislav Klesla-Jack Johnson

David Savard-Ron Hainsey

Goalie

Sergei Bobrovsky

The first word that comes to mind after reading that roster is bad. All-time rosters are supposed to be great, with players who you recognize, there’s only one name on here that stands out to me, and that’s Rick Nash. Rick Nash is the Columbus Blue Jackets. He is the only player worth mentioning in their abbreviated history. This all-time greatest roster would not even come close to winning the Stanley Cup even in a normal regular season, let alone an all-time greatest roster one. The greatest all-time Columbus Blue Jackets team may not even break the 15 win mark in an 82 game season, this is an incredibly rough roster. I hate to abuse a team this badly, but I am speaking the truth. Sergei Bobrovsky is the all-time winningest goalie in Columbus history, and he is basically a nobody. Basically this is the team that won’t fill its seats on any night and your team can always guarantee a win against.

That wraps up the regular season rankings for the Eastern Conference, but what are the playoff matchup’s and who gets the wild card spots in an all-time greatest season?

In the Atlantic side of the bracket we have:

1. Montreal Canadiens vs. WC2. New York Rangers

2. Boston Bruins vs. 3.Detroit Red Wings

In the Metropolitan Division we have:

1. Pittsburgh Penguins vs. WC1. Toronto Maple Leafs

2. New Jersey Devils vs. 3. Philadelphia Flyers