April 10 2013 03:21PM
Found this image over at Michael Langlois' Vintage Leafs Memories
Since the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs played a hockey game against the New York Rangers (pictured above), the Rangers have not altered their roster one bit. Since Glen Sather took over, I think that is a notable rarity. Sather with the Rangers has had a lot of money and a lot of leeway and a pressuring owner who wants to sign superstars so there's a lot of roster turnover year-to-year.
Or perhaps not. I haven't checked the data but it seems that way. It seems that whenever there's a big name player on the market, the Rangers are in the mix. It also seems that the best players on the Rangers tend not to be the ones picked up after years of success in smaller markets.
Henrik Lundqvist. Derek Stepan. Carl Hagelin. Ryan Callahan. These are the building blocks of a strong franchise, especially once you factor in the pieces—Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky—that were traded for Rick Nash. Nash does lead the team in scoring with 35 points and that must be noted, but the experiment to bring Nash to the Rangers failed. There simply weren't enough pucks to go around on the line with him, Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik and eventually they were split.
New York likes superstars. New York and Toronto have been built so differently yet both play in what is regarded as the cultural and entertainment capital of their respective nation. The Leafs added their core guys to the team when young, while the Rangers continue to have a good minor league system, yet keep adding bigger and bigger names to be the glue guys and bring it all together. Wade Redden. Chris Drury. Scott Gomez. Brad Richards. Marian Gaborik.
These teams don't work, not because "hockey isn't played on paper" but because it's tougher in hockey to pick apart the contribution each player brings to a team. When a star flops in a new market, it's always seen as a problem with the star himself and not the manager who brought him in and made a bad bet.
The Rangers are built on a series of bad bets. They won the Stanley Cup in 1994 with Mark Messier and the last bit of hockey juices you could squeeze out of the rinds of the castoffs of the 1980s Edmonton Oilers. The Rangers are less the 1980s Edmonton Oilers and now are more reminiscent of the 2012 Columbus Blue Jackets.
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EDT
By The Numbers:
|Corsi Tied %||51.1% (12th)||46.1% (24th)|
|5v5 GF/GA Ratio||1.10 (9th)||1.09 (10th)|
|Team Shooting %||6.58%||10.60%|
|Team Save %||0.935||0.924|
|PP Success||17.0% (20th)||18.4% (13th)|
|5v4 GF/60||5.05 (21st)||6.35 (14th)|
|5v4 SF/60||45.8 (20th)||45.9 (19th)|
|PK Success||81.9% (16th)||86.9% (3rd)|
|4v5 GA/60||7.15 (24th)||4.65 (4th)|
|4v5 SA/60||41.9 (19th)||41.3 (5th)|
|EV SV%||Quality Start Rate||Starts||Quality Starts|
The Rangers Corsi Tied number is better than the Leafs', but they're in a more precarious situation at the edge of the playoff precipice. The Rangers can finish no lower than 8th place at the end of tonight's action, but that's thanks to holding the first two tiebreakers on the New Jersey Devils and Winnipeg Jets.
Still, they're behind even the Islanders at this point. This is the fun thing with the short season. Usually each season there are two teams that probably deserve to be out based on possession numbers and two teams that deserve to be in, but there could be as many as four this season which will skew the way franchises run their businesses this offseason.
Suppose the Rangers miss… well, they weren't that bad, they were very unlucky. Do they change their philosophy? Trade a bunch of players, try and sign the big-name UFAs? Travis Yost wrote on HockeyBuzz that sometimes the best solution is time, and sticking with a working process. The worst management decisions are ones made in reaction to a small sample of games: Philadelphia trading Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. Washington going defensive. Sometimes waiting cures all.
Here was the lineup the Rangers had last game. Our recap of that game, FYI, can be found clicking this hyperlink.
Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Ryan Callahan
Ryane Clowe - Brad Richards - Marc Zuccarello
Brian Boyle - Derick Brassard - Carl Hagelin
Arron Asham - Darroll Powe - Taylor Pyatt
Michael Del Zotto - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Anton Stralman
John Moore - Steve Eminger
The Richards line was the more dangerous line last time, creating the most scoring chances. Nash's line was held in check when Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson was on the ice, but he struck quickly against Mark Fraser once and Cody Franson once. The top end of the Rangers lineup is deep enough that you don't want to get caught for a bad matchup.
That fact scared Randy Carlyle last time he was in Madison Square Garden. That was the game he sent out his top pairing of Phaneuf and, at that point Mike Kostka, for 32:38 and 31:33 respectively. That pairing got absolutely thrashed by the Rangers first line of Nash-Richards-Gaborik, but that line doesn't scare nobody anymore.
Leafs lines according to Paul Hendrick may be the same. The only possible change, according to Paul Hendrick, is Ryan Hamilton who may replace… Joe Colborne.
Colton Orr has played 10:22 in two combined games against the New York Rangers this season. The other fourth line winger has played 4:50 in two combined games against the New York Rangers this season. These are apparently valuable minutes.
This also means Jake Gardiner remains out.