Megna seizes opportunity against Stars thanks to decision to make Etem a healthy scratch

Rick Nash # (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Rick Nash # (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Last night a wrong was righted. Jayson Megna who made an impression during the preseason but was sent to Hartford due to limited roster spots and waiver risks, seized his 2nd chance. He did so by coming out of the gate flying and picked up a secondary assist on his first shift (a goal by Derek Stepan). Megna finished the game with a goal and an assist.

You see, Emerson Etem whom did nothing to warrant even making the team was made a healthy scratch. This was a conscious decision by Alain Vigneault who likely has had enough of watching Etem have one good shift followed by 3 or 4 completely ineffective ones.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was his horrendous turnover, much like his first game against Montreal, led to the Panthers first goal (and game winner) on Saturday. In that game, Chris Kreider hurt his hand in a fight, meaning Kevin Hayes could simply slide in. Instead, the Rangers opted to call up Jayson Megna and give the 25 year old another chance.

Now being a right handed shot was another reason he was called up due to a lack thereof in the lineup. Also because of Kreider’s absence, he was simply slotted onto a line with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash. Call it luck, but the kid worked his tail off and finished as one of the stars of the game. In one contest he did what Etem couldn’t in 19…make a real impact. Bottom line is this, in hockey, luck is where hard work meets opportunity.

Now, you know I am very opinionated and made my thoughts known which led to those who believe in fancy stats (mostly) to attack my opinion. In essence, I was creating a narrative based on no real facts according to them.

Here were some of the arguments made at me:

  • “Etem was never given an opportunity like this (playing on a top line).”
  • “Etem didn’t get PP time.”
  • “Etem has been stuck playing with Tanner Glass, he can’t succeed.”

I argued all three, but was limited to basically 140 characters on Twitter. So I decided to fight fire with fire (or red hot liquid Megna).

Let me first lay out how Emerson didn’t even warrant making the team. In 5 preseason games he had ZERO goals and ZERO points. He was a -2, mustered a little over a shot a game in an average of 15 minutes of ice. He was averaging nearly 17 minutes in his first three preseason games until AV had to start thinking about readying his true starting lineup.

Jayson Megna only played 3 preseason games and finished with 2 goals and a +2. in only 14 minutes of average ice time. However, he was sent down and Etem was allowed to continue to stay with the big club because he was part of the Hagelin deal, had potential and could be lost to waivers. So when we talk about luck or fairness, remember these facts.

So, did Etem ever get an opportunity like Megna did? Anyone remember Rick Nash’s back issue that cost him some games? Yes, Etem was given a chance to play more minutes with better players. Here’s a look at minutes he’s played with NYR forwards showing how false the 1st argument is.

Etem with TOI & CF%

Etem with TOI & CF%

As you can see, he received nearly 30 minutes with arguably the Rangers top lines in Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello. Just to add some salt in the wounds of analytics folks who use CF% as a means of indicating true quality play, his best numbers come with…what? huh? Tanner Glass? Yup! This also kills their 3rd argument.

As for the PP time Megna received last night. He played the PP in the preseason because he is a RH shot which the Rangers don’t have many of. He actually scored in the preseason on the PP also. He did so on average of 2.5 preseason PP minutes. Emerson Etem was given an average of 2 minutes in his first 3 preseason games and produced nothing. So why on Earth should he be given any during the season?

When Etem was in Anaheim, coach Bruce Boudreau‘s chief complaint was that the kid has the talent but isn’t consistent. The NHL is not a developmental league and these these coaches are paid to win. So you really need to earn your ice time and you do that with hard work and hustle everytime your blades hit the ice.

Last night, Jayson Megna seized his moment by doing just that. Something that Emerson Etem never really did. The kid is only 23, so maybe he will learn something from what Megna did.

Maybe.

Oh and one final thought since this will get twisted on some other blog’s message boards…Jayson Megna is a nice player. He is NOT a top 6 forward. The theme of this post is simple, it’s about how Megna played hard and seized and opportunity and how Emerson Etem to date has not.

Let’s Go Rangers.