5 Questions with Inside Hockey’s Seth Rothman

Seth Rothman

Seth Rothman

Seth Rothman of Inside Hockey was kind enough to give some of his time to answer 5 questions about the Rangers and the upcoming first round match up against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Many of the questions are centered around prior articles and questions FullTilt Readers have asked me on social media and in the comments section of this site. Enjoy!

1. It’s been an amazing season for the Rangers. What do you think makes this team better than last year’s team that made the Final?

Seth: I think this team is more skilled. In the offseason I thought they took a step back up the middle, but Kevin Hayes has been a revelation for this team. They wouldn’t have won the Presidents’ Trophy without him, and if I had to pick one player to have a breakout postseason, Hayes is the guy. I think the league is really going to take note of him this postseason. I also think the Rangers were more confident. Losing the Cup Final can go two ways, it went the right way for this group. They have very strong belief in that room.

2. Is there an area of concern or something you feel merits keeping an eye on with this Rangers team?

Seth: The power play. It needs to be better. I don’t think the PP will be the reason they don’t win the Cup, but it will be a contributing factor if they don’t go all the way.

3. Kevin Hayes has been a revelation since the ASG. How important will he be this postseason and what do you think his future potential is?

Seth: I answered this earlier, but I really do think he’s going to be a crucial piece for the Rangers this postseason. As for his future potential? Boy, sky’s the limit. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s skilled, he’s really got the full package. I’d love to see what he could do as a winger when he has fewer defensive responsibilities, but he’s been absolutely tremendous as a center.

4. The Rangers PP has shown some signs of life lately, anything you’ve noticed or would like to see?

Seth: I’m not a terribly huge fan of the umbrella formation because I don’t think it gives you enough guys in the high-scoring areas, but they had success with kind of a hybrid version of it earlier this season and they will have success with it again when they’re out of this slump. I’ve been a bit confused to see Rick Nash setting up shop on the goal line — that should be where a guy like Derek Stepan sets up shop. But then again, Scott Arniel and Alain Vigneault has forgotten more hockey than I know, so I’ll let them make those decisions. Listen, if they score nothing else matters.

5. We learned late on Saturday that the Penguins and Rangers will faceoff in round 1. What are your 3 keys to victory for the Rangers?


1. Win Game 1. It sounds cliché, but this is a fragile Penguins team after what happened to them the second half of the season. If the Rangers can get that doubt into Pittsburgh’s game, I think this becomes a vastly different series. Pittsburgh was the best team in the East through December 20, and while they’re battling injuries, they’re still a really good team that’s lacking confidence right now. If they find their confidence, the first round becomes a much more difficult series.

2. The penalty kill. How might Pittsburgh gain that elusive confidence? A couple PPG’s might do the trick. The Rangers had the league’s sixth-best PK (Pittsburgh’s was third), so if they can force Pittsburgh to score at even strength only, that would be big.

3. Henrik Lundqvist. Your goalie is your best penalty killer, and the Rangers have one of the best in the world. The fact Henrik Lundqvist is only my third key tells you all you need to know about this team. He is their best player, and he needs to be their best player. In previous years I’d have said they’ll go only as far as Lundqvist takes them, but I don’t think that’s the case this year. They’re talented enough to win, even when he’s not at his best. That being said, no team ever wins in the playoffs without their goalie playing well. He’ll have to be great if they want their first title in 21 years.

Thanks again to Seth for taking time to answer a few questions. You can follow him on Twitter and check out his work on Inside Hockey