Playing Martin St. Louis at center is counterproductive!
The Rangers are concerned. When Derek Stepan broke his leg in camp and news spread he would miss about 6 weeks, a quiet panic began to set in. Alain Vigneault, always cool, calm and collected, proclaimed this was an opportunity for others to step up.
Thus far, no one really has.
New York was coming into the season depleted at center after losing Brad Richards (buyout) and Brian Boyle (free agency) this offseason. The Blueshirts had locked in Stepan as their #1, Derick Brassard as #2, and Dominic Moore as the 3rd or 4th pivot.
JT Miller was penciled in as one of the 4 centers. As of right now, he looks like he will probably get the responsibility on the 3rd line. That still leaves one spot open and no one stepping up for the injured Stepan.
Matthew Lombardi has been banged up throughout camp and looks a step behind. Oscar Lindberg has been ok at best and doesn’t look ready for the bright lights on Broadway. The Kevin Hayes playing center experiment went terrible too.
The situation is so dire, that it looks like Alain Vigneault will take Marty St. Louis up on his offer to play center this weekend – possibly Friday vs. Chicago.
Jim Cerny of BlueshirtsUnited.com captured this quote:
“He says other than the faceoffs he’s pretty comfortable,” Vigneault said of his conversations with St. Louis about playing in the middle. “I know he’s done it before, so if we need him I know he’ll be ready for us.”
Yeah, those face-offs can be a pesky thing. Remember how the L.A. Kings dominated the face-off circle during the Final? Generating offense when in the Rangers zone, killing any momentum when the draw was in theirs. Unfortunately, if you want to play center – you need to be at least decent at it.
For his career, Marty St. Louis is 39% on face-offs. Yup, he only won 166 of the 420 draws he’s taken. These numbers come from Hockey-Reference and show just what a terrible idea it is. Furthermore, on the PP he is 5 for 36 and a paltry 13%.
So I ask you, what benefit is there to moving Marty St. Louis off his natural position of RW? It’s a position that he not only excels at but has basically built a Hall of Fame career there. The move simply cries of desperation and makes little to no sense to me.
And let’s remember, this is a temporary problem. Derek Stepan will be back and when he does things should fall into place. For now the Rangers should stop trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
New York should bite the bullet and let either Matthew Lombardi or Oscar Lindberg play the 4th pivot for 6 weeks. Their ice time will be limited to 5-8 minutes a night anyway. And who knows, maybe out of this madness the Rangers will actually find an adequate center going forward.
If Marty really wants to help the Rangers, stay on the right side and keep firing off those wicked shots. Sometimes, doing less is more.