There’s hope for Eric Staal yet
The Rangers bounced back from an awful road trip against Florida, where they were lucky to get 3 points in the 3 games they played out West. By beating the Panthers at MSG last night, they improved their home record to 24-8-3. They hold the 2nd best home winning percentage in the NHL (Washington 1st) which is a stark contrast to their 17-16-5 road record.
Their Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde play at home and on the road is another story. Today after practice head coach, Alain Vigneault admitted to not utilizing skilled center, Eric Staal properly.
[su_quote cite=”Larry Brooks, NYPOST” url=”https://nypost.com/2016/03/22/rangers-coach-knows-why-eric-staals-been-invisible-blame-me/”]“I haven’t put him in ideal situations — it’s my fault,” said the coach, whose team faces the Bruins at the Garden on Wednesday. “I’ve been moving personnel around trying to find the right chemistry with the lines.”[/su_quote]
EUREKA! A breakthrough? I hope so.
Eric Staal was acquired near the trade deadline as the offensive piece the Rangers hoped would get them over the hump to the Cup this Spring. He first played with Oscar Lindberg and Viktor Stalberg, neither of which are considered offensively gifted players.
Rick Nash was hurt at the time and he didn’t want to disrupt the other two lines. When Rick Nash returned from injury, he was immediately placed on Staal’s right. That lasted less than 2 games! Just like I had predicted, at the first sign of adversity he would move Nash back to either Derek Stepan or Derick Brassard‘s side.
From there, Eric Staal saw a rotation of forwards and that may continue tomorrow against Boston as well. Today at practice, Chris Kreider was on line with Staal. After playing with J.T. Miller and Kevin Hayes a few games, why not? Now, Nash was given a maintenance day and held out of practice, but I’m holding out hope that a monster sized line is put together.
Can you imagine the fits a line of Kreider (6’3″), Staal (6’4″) and Nash (6’4″) could cause defenses? I know I’d at least like to see it. Maybe then AV can properly set Eric Staal’s offensive abilities loose.
Let’s face it, 1 goal and 3 points in 11 games is not what anyone expected when the Rangers acquired Eric Staal. We also didn’t expect that Stalberg would’ve played 71 minutes to Nash’s 25 in his brief stint with the Rangers either.