Pionk and Gilmour provide small glimpse into rebuild
The New York Rangers are currently unwatchable. Each game they play somehow ends up worse than the last; and there is very little optimism for the Blueshirts or their fans. Watching a Rangers game lately, is like being Stanley Hudson and witnessing life under Michael Scotts tutelage.
Normally this is where the team makes a trade to bolster the roster for April through hopefully June. The thought of Doc Emmrick not calling a game at MSG in the late spring/early summer hurts. The thought of fans not enjoying a run is a tough pill to swallow. It’s harshly compounded by the product presently on ice.
We’ve said good bye to the past success. With the goal of building towards the future. Yet the doom and gloom of constant blow outs make the team unbearable to watch. It is not just the result after 60 that hurts, but the clear lack of effort as well. There are few silver linings, besides the pending transactions. However the bright side of all this negativity, is the play of John Gilmour and Neal Pionk.
Both Gilmour and Pink slipped by teams as one went 6 rounds before getting drafted (Gilmour) and the other went completely undrafted (Pionk). Gilmour is an absolute burner that is showing both a strong skating ability as well as defensive awareness.
— Fitz (@FitzGSN_) February 17, 2018
— Fitz (@FitzGSN_) February 16, 2018
The Rangers have struggled in all facets of the game, but the breakout may be the worst part of their game. Three separate games, three plays that show the skill set of John Gilmour. In his time on the Rangers, Gilmour has not just shown his blazing speed, he has also shown the ability to continuously make the simple, and most importantly correct play. The effort and the ability to move the puck out of the zone has been much more enjoyable than a cross ice pass that gets intercepted in the neutral zone.
Neal Pionk is a two way defenseman that also has no problem putting his body on the line. In the last five games Pionk has the most blocked shots among Rangers defenseman with 10.
— Fitz (@FitzGSN_) February 11, 2018
Pionk the rookie is playing top minutes and you would not be able to tell that he has been in the AHL all season.
Neal "The Real Deal" Pionk. Very good at moving the puck out of trouble, knows when to pinch, good overall instincts and decision-making. I don't see him ever going back to Hartford.
— Sean Hartnett (@HartnettHockey) February 16, 2018
Pionk is averaging 21 minutes per game, due to his ability to play 5v5, the power play and also kill off penalties. Again the big key with these two talented young defenseman is not the speed or offensive talent, it is the ability to make good decisions with the puck.
The team will almost certainly have a completely different look come February 27, the latest. With the team slumping heavily, and veterans seeming to look lost on the ice. These two defenseman have come in and made the game exciting to watch, the 17-21 minutes they are on the ice. Players like this not only help make the glass seem half-full. They also help make the transition from constant deadline buyer to seller much easier. If nothing else 58 and 44 can be seen as a nice breath of fresh air for this years New York Rangers.