New York Rangers 2014-15 season so far
The New York Rangers are technically past the quarter mark of the eighty-two game season. In fact, we are closer to the 1/3 point but I thought it would be interesting to take a look back at the ebb and flow of the first thirty games of the 14/15 season.
There’s been a few ups and downs early on but the New York Rangers have steadied the ship the last few games. They have a favorable schedule in December which lends them a chance to gain some ground on the top teams in the Metropolitan Division. There isn’t a single game the rest of the month the Rangers can’t expect to at least get points if not win out. A home and home against the Hurricanes followed by home games against the Caps and Devils.
The Rangers will go to Dallas and Florida to take on the Stars and Panthers to end 2014. That is a lot of games the Rangers should win and there’s a lot of days between games so this is also a good time for players to lick their wounds and heal in between games. Let’s begin the the breakdown starting with the forwards.
New York Rangers Top Centerman Derick Brassard Is The Latest NHL Player To Contract The Mumps Virus!
I want to begin this article by mentioning this “Mumps” epidemic around the NHL. Derick Brassard is the latest NHL player to go down with the Mumps virus. It’s also the second New York Rangers player to miss games with the virus.
To begin the season, the Rangers were banged up throughout the lineup. So having Rick Nash playing to form may have single-handedly kept his team around the .500 mark. His twenty goals and thirty-three points are a welcome sight for the Rangers.
Derick Brassard was moved up to the top center position in Derek Stepan’s absence early on and hasn’t disappointed.
The Rangers top pivot this season Derick Brassard has been a revelation. He signed a big contract last summer to move up from the third center to the top six. So far he’s earned his money through the first quarter of the 14/15 regular season. Once he gets over the Mumps he’ll help the Rangers settle down the middle at the center position.
Mats Zuccarello Has Been Better The Last Few Games!
Mats Zuccarello wasn’t doing some of the things that made him successful last season to the tune of a team leading fifty-nine points. He’s s snapped out of it the last couple games and he’s helped the Rangers score sixteen goals the last four games. He is most effective when he’s driving to the net, with and without the puck. He may have been affected by the lower body injury he suffered early on. He’s gotten back on track in the Rangers road trip through Western Canada.
Since Derek Stepan returned, he’s been on a tear with sixteen points in his first seventeen games. Derek Stepan is one of the few right-handed shooters in the Rangers lineup so his stick is important. His possession numbers are down a bit (43.4%) but he’s normally good at driving puck possession so the thought is he will revert back to his normal self. He is normally better than 50% on ice Corsi percentage so while it isn’t good that he’s down a bit. It is a small sample size. Over the course of a full season he should get back to being a two-way forward.
With the injuries and the lack of production from Chris Kreider. Theres been a rotation of players making up the Rangers second forward unit. Ranger fans have become frustrated by Chris Kreider’s regression this season. However, Chris Kreider is too big and talented to be held back for long. The goal he scored on Tuesday might just be the remedy to the slump he was in. He started skating again in the game against Calgary. That’s bad news for the teams that have to play the Rangers.
Kevin Hayes has gotten better with every game he plays. The Rangers top six is more effective if they get some possession and production from the bottom six. Head coach Alain Vineault can spread out the minutes if he can trust his bottom two lines to control the puck and not be a dud offensively. Hayes has trouble winning face-offs and that is an area the Rangers need him to improve. Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard are only winning about 45% of their face-offs.
Lee Stempniak and Carl Hagelin have cooled off a bit since hot starts to the season though Hagelin did pot the empty net goal to seal the win in Edmonton and Calgary. I wouldn’t worry about either player and as Kevin Hayes continues to develop on the fly, those two will be serious weapons on the forecheck for Alain Vigneault’s team.
The Rangers are beginning to get some scoring from their defenseman.
Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh finally broke the ice with their first goals of the season in the win in Vancouver. Kevin Klein has had a torrid start to the season with six goals. The thirty year old Kevin Klein had a previous career high of four goals and twenty-one points. He’s surpassed the goals mark and is half way to his previous season high only a third of the way through the season.
Ranger fans can’t expect him to continue his ridiculous twenty percent shooting percentage. His five percent career average is where he’ll likely end the season. A drop in goals can be expected but his great start has been a welcome sight for a team that wasn’t getting any scoring from their defenseman. He has played more aggressively and shooting the puck more this season and it shows in his offensive output thus far.
Rangers Defense Have A Weapon In Dan Boyle. He May Still Be Playing Hurt Though
Dan Boyle had a rough start to his career on Broadway after fracturing his wrist in the first game of the season. He returned before the wrist was fully healed and still doesn’t seem to have full mobility in that hand. Once his wrist is fully healed, the Rangers blue line will have that long-awaited shooter from the point. As Dan Boyle goes, so does the Rangers power play.
The Rangers Goaltending Has Steadied After A Tough Start.
The Rangers have gotten spotty goaltending to begin the season but much of the play was due to the patchwork blue line. Cam Talbot played much better in his last two starts and Henrik Lundqvist has returned to his throne of late. He shut out the Oilers and kept the Canucks and Flames to three goals total in the two games. Going forward I wouldn’t worry about the Rangers goaltending. As the blue liners settle in, the goaltending will revert to what we all expected.