|The Final Report Card of the Year|
Typing the usual, “Welcome everyone to another blog here on DOINOW.com” still hurts, because it looks so cheery. As I type this blog up, I am still sickened and disgusted by how this season ended. It’s one thing to lose to a better team or a fluke shot goes in, but to lose your season because you don’t show up at home in back-to-back games? I’ll never forget it. I will never understand how you score 17 goals on the road in 3 games and four goals at home, in four games.
I am still healing here, so writing is the best way to vent!
With the season unfortunately over, it’s time to do the POSTSEASON Report Card. If you haven’t read my report card blogs before, you can check them out here:
In this Postseason Report Card, just like the playoff games themselves, we are wiping the slate clean. What you did in the regular season doesn’t mean anything here. This is all about how you performed from mid-April til that brutal game 7 loss at home.
When grading, here is what I’m taking into account: productivity, stats, intangible factors, clutchness, players contract/cap hit, and playing your position.
Keep in mind when reading this Report Card, that obviously, this is just my opinion and no one else’s. Also remember that the Rangers played mostly one goal games for most of the playoffs. There were many missed opportunities at the net.
If you read my two other report cards, you will notice a lot of high grades and think I was a homer. However, the Rangers won the President’s Trophy and were the best team in hockey. There wasn’t much to make a fuss about. Now, when you’re favored to win the Stanley Cup and screw your home fans in Games 5 and 7 of an ECF, the grades aren’t going to be as high. The expectations were there for this Rangers team.
Don’t be fooled – this was a Cup or Bust season. I am not one of those giddy fans that say “WE WILL GET THEM NEXT YEAR, GOOD JOB, GOOD EFFORT BOYS!” No. This was a failed season. Even a Cup loss would’ve been rough. When you trade away your future (Picks in MSL deal, picks/Duclair in Yandle deal), throw all your money at Lundqvist and pick up pieces to WIN NOW, especially after losing in the Stanley Cup Finals last year, anything short of hoisting the Cup was a failed year.
Yes, Ranger fans have much to be happy about, but without the Cup, the clock just keeps on ticking and the core of this team just gets older. Let’s break down everyone’s individual performances:
|Rick Nash was the hardest player for me to grade|
Derick Brassard – A
The Rangers top center was the most productive Ranger of the playoffs, even netting a hat-trick in an elimination game 6 against TBL. Brassard also contributed in the games where his linemates scored goals as well. You couldn’t have asked more from Brassard in the playoffs. From a guy that seemed hesitant to shoot the puck in the regular season, Brassard kicked it into another gear in the playoffs. Supposedly AV said something to him privately, to kick-start his game. A win for both the coach and the player.
Jesper Fast – B-
These playoffs were a coming out party for Fast. Where MSL may have played himself out of another contract, Fast played himself into getting a new one. Fast had a two goal game in the playoffs and rarely let his man beat him to the net. The Rangers have a lot of young guns. While Hayes & Miller get a lot of attention, who knows, Fast might become the best of the three.
Tanner Glass – C+
One of the most hated Rangers by fans in the regular season (1 goal), I thought Glass played decent in the playoffs. Of course he didn’t score like usual, but he played strong defense. I thought he really stepped his game up come playoff time. He played hard and was the Rangers tough man on the ice. However, that was sort of the problem for the Rangers. If Tanner Glass is your tough man/enforcer, you’re not intimidating anyone.
Carl Hagelin – C+
I’m a huge Hags fan, but where was he after that Pittsburgh series? Hags is the fastest skater on the ice and is now a free agent. I thought he would really shine in the Tampa series, against a team that allows a lot of open ice. Hagelin was nowhere to be found. Many may blame his line, as MSL wasn’t great either, but I expected more out of Hagelin in these playoffs. On an aside, that being said, I hope he remains a Ranger next year.
Kevin Hayes – B-
Hayes, who scored a game winning goal in the playoffs, and the game tying goal in Game 7 against the Caps, had a great first season as a Ranger. The reason I don’t score him higher is because there were way too many times that along with his line buddy Carl Hagelin, that instead of taking an open shot on net, he would pass the puck backwards, which 99% either resulted in a turnover or offside. He got away a bit from what got him here in the first place. The Rangers future does look bright with Hayes in the line-up.
Chris Kreider – A-
The reason I gave Kreider an A-, rather than a B+, is because when Zucc went down, Kreider took over the role of bringing the aggression and became the lifeblood of the team. Kreider had a fantastic playoff run, and was right at the top of the list, with Brassard, as the most productive Ranger on the stat sheet. The only thing you could really criticize Kreider for was taking dumb penalties, but some of those penalties were either retaliation or in an effort to jump-start the team. If I’m Sather, I do not wait until Kreider is a free agent next year, and try to lock him up now.
JT Miller- C+
Another Rangers rookie, he was the least productive out of the Rangers rookies on the roster. JT Miller wasn’t bad or anything and even saw work with Nash & Brassard, but he didn’t make his presence felt much on the ice either. Sometimes I wonder if these rookies were scared to shoot the puck. I thought they got away from what made them so productive in the regular season. Miller, Fast & Hayes provides the Rangers with a solid future. There is no reason the Rangers shouldn’t be in the playoffs next year either with their young studs and core.
Dominic Moore- B+
The anchor of the Rangers fourth line, Moore was the best player at winning faceoffs in the playoffs. Moore scored a game winning goal in these playoffs as well. I thought Moore played solid defense and gave it his all. While many fans/media members will talk about Lundqvist never getting a Cup and how they want to see him win one, I was really pulling for Dom Moore to get it. When you know the story of Dom Moore, see the way he plays on the ice and hear how his teammates talk about him, you can’t help yourself but to root for the guy.
Rick Nash – C
This grade would be higher, if he wasn’t being paid $7.8 Million a year. What hurts Nash really is that he’s being paid to score goals. He doesn’t do that in the playoffs. He got a few during the playoffs, but only one was at a time that the Rangers needed a goal. The late “A-Rod” goals, when the game is already determined are hogwash to me. What pains me, is you see the other superstars, like Ovechkin, Johnson, Stamkos, Toews, Kane, Perry, etc, and they are all producing goals. Nash did not play bad mind you, but he sure didn’t play up to his contract. Never once did I think Nash was a liability on the ice or didn’t give it his all, but bottom line, for that money, you need to score.
James Sheppard – C+
Sheppard played when Zucc went down. Sheppard wasn’t bad or anything, but he didn’t do much either, outside of some late/game already determined scoring. It’s tough to just walk onto a team, mid-season, then play after sitting out a series. Sheppard won’t be a Ranger next year, and it’s probably the best thing for him (More playing time elsewhere) and the team. (Chance for maybe Lindberg or someone else from the Wolfpack to get ice time.)
Martin St. Louis – F
This grade is hard for me to give out, because I’m such a Marty fan. What a difference a year makes. MSL was the playoff hero for this team, many times last year. He was their inspiration after his mother passed. However, in these playoffs, I’ve never seen a player age so fast. He’s a free agent, as we all know by now, but I don’t know he comes back next year. Maybe if he takes a veteran player minimum deal? It’s really hard to explain what happened to MSL, besides age. He just turned ghost the second the playoffs happened. He even had bad turnovers turned into goals for the other team. It’s hard watching the great ones fall apart. I just don’t see MSL wanting his career to end like this though.
Derek Stepan- A-
The now free agent, will command big bucks from the Rangers this off-season. He will get it. He is too valuable for this team and played well in the playoffs, including the game winner in the Washington series Game 7. Stepan, along with Brass & Kreider, was the most consistent Ranger of the playoffs. However, I can’t give any of these guys A+’s when you only produce four goals at home in four games, in the biggest series of the year.
Mats Zuccarello – INCOMPLETE
One question, when assessing the 2015 playoff run, is “how much did the Rangers miss Mats Zuccarello?” When you lose a 7 game series in the ECF, one player, one puck bounce, one anything, could’ve swung the series the other way. The Rangers were able to win without Zucc, as they squeaked by Washington, but they really missed his fire and tenacity out there. There was a reason fans (including myself) campaigned for Sather to re-sign him and not trade him at the deadline this year. No excuses for the Rangers to get shut out at home twice in the ECF, but losing Zucc definitely hurt the Rangers.
|The pillars of the Rangers defense|
Dan Boyle – B-
Boyle was the most productive defenseman, scoring wise. He also had a game winner in these playoffs .What kills Boyle is at 40 years old, he’s slow as shit with these twenty year old kids whipping around, all over the ice. Turns of turnovers and being caught flat-flooted seemed to be staples of Boyle’s game. However, he is one of the few Rangers to always shoot the puck, in these playoffs. He wasn’t intimidated. He had no problems firing the puck and hoping for deflections or rebounds. Still, I would rather Stralman here, instead of Boyle. Sather really fucked that up, as we all said the Boyle for Stralman idea was a bad one, before the season even started.
Dan Girardi- B+
You’re not going to get much scoring out of Girardi, but you do get a lockdown defender. Girardi logged a ton of minutes and did a great job of shutting down Crosby, Malkin, Ovechkin and Backstrom down. The triplets line & Stamkos were able to get a few by, but sometimes you have to credit good players for playing well. Still, Girardi was a true warrior for the Rangers during this run, like usual. I still think he’s a tad overpaid for a pure lockdown guy that doesn’t do much offensively.
Matt Hunwick- INCOMPLETE
He only suited for Game 7 of the TBL series. He’s a goner after this year, with Skjei waiting in the wings, and the top 6 defense all locked up. Give him credit, for a guy who sat on his ass for nearly two months, he stepped up, and didn’t hurt the team in the one game he played.
Kevin Klein – C+
Remember that part of the regular season where Klein was the highest scoring defensemen in the NHL? Remember when he was at the top of the list for goals scored for the Rangers? Well Klein didn’t do anything offensively in the playoffs. He also returned from a broken arm, after missing most of the second half of the season. Who knows if he was 100% healthy or not. Klein is a strong defender, but he wasn’t at his best in these playoffs.
Ryan McDonagh – A-
The Captain showed us why he was the captain of this team, especially when we found out after this series that he was playing with a broken foot. He was furious after losses, and the Rangers rebounded for wins. With Girardi, he held down the best offensive players on every team he faced. He also put a few goals in too. You gotta be proud of the Captain. I truly thought he would have his Messier moment this year.
Marc Staal – B+
Staal did his job. Staal didn’t produce many turnovers and he shut down the offense of opposing teams. A pure defensemen, Staal is a grinder and wore down the competition. You will never see much of anything in the scoring department from Staal, but you won’t see too many minuses on his +/- sheet either. Another solid postseason for Staal.
Keith Yandle- C+
I only give Yandle a grade higher than I would’ve liked to because of his scoring. He was able to score goals and tally a bunch of assists. He got better as the playoffs went on, perhaps because he was familiar with the system. Still, all the turnovers are on him. How many times is he going to skate with the puck in front of his own net? How many times will he throw a lazy pass in front of his own net? How many times will he not bump a guy away from the net? He can put up the points, that’s for sure, so I don’t fault him for that, but he needs to be better defensively.
|I would’ve started Talbot in these playoffs|
Henrik Lundqvist- A
The “in-his-prime” Lundqvist was a monster against the Penguins and Capitals. He kept the Rangers in every game. Then, Tampa, who owns him, came around.
Tampa in the 7 games, scored 1, 6, 6, 1, 2, 3, 2 goals, in each game respectively. Lundqvist played well for the most part, but basically gave Tampa Game 3, and when you lose a series 4-3, that was the difference. What hurts is that when Bishop had his bad games, (Game 4, Bishop gave up 5, Game 6, Bishop gave 7) Bishop responded with back-to-back road shutouts in Game 5 and 7. Even Holtby posted a shutout against the Rangers. Lundqvist had 0 in the playoffs.
Lundqvist made many highlight reel saves, but for every 10-12 amazing saves, he would also let a soft one in. Hardly regal on Lundqvist’s part. Still, and we all know the contract deal, you’ve heard it here repeatedly in these blogs, but he was the best player in the playoffs for the Rangers.
PLEASE READ THAT LAST SENTENCE AGAIN FOR EVERYONE THAT ARGUES WITH ME ON SOCIAL MEDIA. LUNDQVIST WAS THE BEST PLAYER FOR THIS TEAM IN THE PLAYOFFS. I AM NOT DEBATING THAT!
He’s still not a “King” in my book, and I do think he’s overrated and overpaid, but he played great, for the most part, in the playoffs.
I feel bad for Hank. The first 8 years of his career, he had no offense. These last two years, he’s had offense, but he’s regressed a bit. He will be 34 come the playoffs next year. That window is getting smaller.
Cam Talbot- INCOMPLETE
Talbot didn’t see a second of ice time during these playoffs. I’ll talk more about Talbot when I do my blog looking at the off-season. The one thing that drives me nuts is people saying “Without Hank, we wouldn’t be this far.” Most of those people didn’t watch the regular season. Who knows how Talbot would’ve handled the playoffs? Maybe he’s Ken Dryden and the Rangers win the whole thing. Maybe he gets blown out by Pittsburgh. We will never know, and that’s what sucks the most to me. What I do know, is that in 10 years, Lundqvist hasn’t won any cups, despite a marketable King nickname suggesting that he has.
|Despite the loss, he’s still King Midas to me|
Alain Vigneault – A
The hockey media is already salivating about AV, talking about all the President Trophy’s he’s won and the deep playoff runs, but no Cups. Get Lawst! I don’t care about what AV did in Vancouver, I care about what he did with the Rangers.
Last year, he took an overachieving team right to the Cup Finals. This year, he had a ton of injuries and a goalie who gave away a pivotal playoff game. His team didn’t score. He can’t shoot the puck himself.
I thought AV did a tremendous job, and has been doing a tremendous job since arriving to New York. He’s been smart with the media, will crack jokes to lighten the mood, was firm when people were asking about Talbot after Hank’s two touchdown games and is generally likable.
Just remember, since 1994 the Rangers were never in the Cup Finals. AV changed that in his first year, and was 20 minutes away from returning in his second year. Can the third year be a charm?
Glen Sather -B-
Sather made many good moves to build this team. He got AV here to man the ship. He’s done a lot of good with the core and building the future. It’s funny how great he’s been with the cap in place, after all those years of free-spending.
The negatives: the MSL, Boyle and Yandle deals. Listen, I know the situation with Callahan. I also know the situation with MSL, he wanted out. I don’t understand, and I didn’t understand then, why do you deal two draft picks along with Cally for MSL? That trade should’ve been a straight swap.
The Rangers traded for Yandle for this year, thinking he was a piece that could help them win the Cup. It didn’t. Fortunately, Arizona covers half of Yandle’s $. Still, giving up Duclair and again, another #1 draft pick doesn’t make sense to me. That’s what drives me nuts about these idiots saying “TRADE TALBOT FOR PICKS!” Why? First, you’re gonna need someone to spell an aging Hank again anyway. Then, even if you do get the picks, Sather will trade him for a veteran that will wind up being Bobby Holik here!
The Boyle/Stralman shit is infuriating. How do you not even talk to Stralman and put it out there he wants too much money, then sign a 40 year old Boyle for that same money? I hope Sather enjoys watching Cally & Stralman in the Cup this year.
Another glaring hole with the Rangers is the lack of an enforcer. I don’t know the love affair with Tanner Glass. Maybe he’s a great locker room guy like everyone says, but locker room guys aren’t winning games on the ice. I would’ve rather seen Dorsett or Carcillo back, or find someone else who can do the role. Most of the time, Glass is fighting when the game result has already been determined.
Still, Sather has been here for 15+ years. While no Cups to speak of, he has this team competitive and has a solid core here. I do believe that he did everything that he thought was best to make this team a winner. I just don’t get dealing all the draft picks. He gambled and lost. If Duclair winds up being a stud, or these picks turn into something, then oh boy. I guess having Hayes and these young guys, makes it easier to give up picks at this stage of the game.
|The shield we are loyal to|
Well that wraps up my Final Report Card of the Season. Despite the season being over, we will be rock and rolling with some end-of-the-season blogs.
You can read my final game of the season report here:
Upcoming blogs include:
“The Lundqvist Saga”
“Frank Boucher Petition”
“The Death of MSG” and many more.
Keep it here at DOINOW.com for more. You can always comment on the blogs by emailing me or tweeting at me, since I can’t figure out this comment section. That’s my off-season task!
@NYCTHEMIC on twitter