Saturday, November 19, 2011

Canadiens Dominate Listless Rangers To Snap Seven Game Winning Streak

The New York Rangers certainly didn’t resemble a team that entered Saturday night riding a seven game winning streak by playing a listless game in a 4-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.  The Rangers were a step behind from the opening drop of the puck as they failed to threaten Montreal much at all.  Only generating 17 shots against the injury depleted Canadiens blue line is inexcusable. 

Anyone looking to put this loss on Martin Biron is missing the point of tonight’s game.  Biron gave up a soft goal to Gionta in the second period, but with the lack of effort by the rest of the guys who dressed it wouldn’t have mattered.

Only player that seemed to have jump tonight was Brandon Prust.

It was an awful effort, but they were due for a bad game after winning seven in a row, so do not lose sight of the good that his been done lately just because of this one.  Sometimes an awful performance like this is the reality check that a team needs as it will get their attention again and give Tortorella something to get back to working on.  Worst part about this one is that the Rangers have three more days off before they get back at it down in Florida against the Panthers.

Martin Biron Starting Against Canadiens

The Rangers will have Martin Biron between the pipes as they seek their eighth straight win tonight in Montreal.  While some might take this as a sign of not putting their best team out there but given Biron's 3-0 record and .95 goals against average there is no reason to doubt him.  Biron does need the work and given Lundqvist's struggles in Montreal there is nothing wrong with this move.

Rangers Prospect System Ranked 13th By Hockey's Future

The New York Rangers are still out spending money on free agents like Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards to carry the offensive burden, but the integration of young prospect talent into the lineup over the past 4-5 years has been the key to the team rising back up the standings.  Luckily for the Rangers there is more talent in the pipeline for the coming seasons though the people at Hockey's Future do not seem to think all that highly of them in their latest organizational rankings.  The Rangers came it at #13 with this said about their system..
13. New York Rangers

Strengths: The Rangers have excellent strength on the blue line, with Ryan McDonagh currently playing top pairing NHL minutes, and both Tim Erixon and Dylan McIlrath developing well within the Rangers system. New York also has excellent depth on the wings, with many third and fourth line prospects in addition to potential first liner Chris Kreider.

Weaknesses: The majority of the prospects in the Rangers' system are older and already playing professional hockey. Additionally, many of the Rangers' top prospects have graduated and are currently on the Rangers roster. Finally, there is no future number one netminder within the system.
 Top 5 prospects: 1. Chris Kreider; 2. Christian Thomas; 3. Tim Erixon; 4. Ryan McDonagh; 5. J.T. Miller.
Lost to Trade: Roman Horak, Tomas Kundratek, Brodie Dupont, Evgeny Grachev, Ethan Werek.

The criticism of the system lacking any potential starting goaltenders is likely warranted though Stajcer has potential to get there eventually.  However, the rest of the criticism seems to lack a full understanding of where the system is.

Up front Kreider is the standout and the only one that likely has a complete top line skill set, but to say that the rest are mainly third and fourth line wingers is harsh.  Christian Thomas and Jesper Fasth have second line upside while Hagelin and J.T. Miller are showing all-around games and versatility only increases their value in seeing just how high they can develop. 

Seeing Erixon, as much upside as he has, ranked above Ryan McDonagh is ridiculous to me at this stage.  McDonagh is a 22-year-old defender playing on the top defensive pair against the best offensive players in the league right now.  Not only is he playing there, but he is excelling on both ends of the ice while doing so.  If you are still going to list him as a prospect, then he should likely be the top prospect on the list even with how Kreider is blowing up early this season at Boston College.

Rangers Record A Product of Subpar Competition?

The New York Rangers will be looking to make it eight straight wins tonight when they take on the Montreal Canadiens.  Winning eight straight is an impressive feat no matter who you play, but is the Rangers recent run and overall record based more on the competition they have faced instead of how good the team itself is.  On ThursdayLarry Brooks at the New York Post pointed out that the Rangers have been pounding the poorest performing teams thus far…
"The 10-3-3 Rangers are 9-1-2 against the league's bottom 13 clubs. They have yet to face a team in the top seven in the overall standings."
In some ways this kind of stat is a reality check that they have yet to face the best competition, or at least team’s playing their best thus far this season.  In other ways this is a positive because of how the Rangers tend to struggle to beat the teams they are supposed to, so gaining 20 points in 12 games against inferior teams is good sign for them.  While Montreal is another team that sits inside the bottom 13 clubs thus far, Saturday night games there have consistently been a nightmare for the Rangers. 

Following tonight the Rangers will play four consecutive games against teams currently in the top half of the league standings.  More importantly Florida, Washington, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are all currently within the Eastern Conference playoffs so points are at a premium.  There is no denying that the Rangers have been impressive in finding ways to get points early in the season.  Now we will find out a little more in depth how good they are doing so against some of the better clubs in the league.