When it comes to the New York Rangers' defensive corps, the team seems set for the forseeable future.
On Broadway, the Blueshirts have the likes of Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal. Down on the farm or in juniors, the team has a group of solid defensive prospects.
Yesterday, a former Rangers' defenseman jumped back into the fold in Matt Gilroy. Yesterday on Twitter, New York Post Rangers' beat writer Larry Brooks told us that Gilroy signed an AHL contract with the Connecticut Whale and that he could also end up signing with the Rangers when the lockout ends.
In Gilroy's first tenure with the Blueshirts, things were inconsistent. He was able to supply some offense but his defensive mishaps and lack of confidence in his won zone really hurt both himself and the team.
After worrying about newly acquired New York Rangers' forward Rick Nash being seriously injured, Larry Brooks of the New York Post tells us that the injury is not serious and that it is just a day-to-day thing.
Larry Brooks @NYP_Brooksie
From NYR, MRI reveals no damage to Nash shoulder, is apparently day to day for Davos...
The last thing the Blueshirts need was to have the NHL return from lockout and have Nash be on the sidelines due to an injury he suffered overseas.
In a time where NHL hockey is not being played, a player for the New York Rangers gets hurts while playing overseas.
Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, this player is the newly acquired Rick Nash. According to a Tweet from Darren Dreger of TSN, Nash hurt his shoulder.
Darren Dreger @DarrenDreger
Resnick stressed, Nash's injury is shoulder and not head as some have speculated. Taken out of game for precautionary reasons.
Darren Dreger @DarrenDreger
Rick Nash injured his shoulder in Swiss game. His agent, Joe Resnick says he was taken out of game and will be re-evaluated in a cpl days.
This is what fans of all teams are worried about. Hopefully, the injury will not be deemed as serious and that it really was just a precautionary measure to take him out of the game.
For several seasons, the New York Rangers had a centerman who could block shots, make smart defensive plays in his own zone, win face-offs and kill penalties.
As knowledgeable Blueshirts' fans, you probably remember this player as Blair Betts. Betts was a solid Ranger for four seasons, mainly under former head coach Tom Renney.
Believe it or not, the Rangers' may have found a Betts' look-a-like in center Jeff Halpern. Halpern signed a 1-year-deal with the team in the off-season after spending last season with the Washington Capitals.
Halpern, now likely considered a depth player, played 69 games last season and posted 16 points (4 goals and 12 assists). Those numbers may not be great but he will bring some value to the team whenever the league decides to drop the puck.
From Patrick Hoffman at Canada.com:
While these kinds of injuries would be considered a disappointment for any team/player, DiPietro’s injuries are looked at as being worse due to the fact that the Islanders signed DiPietro to a then record-setting contract for 15-years at $67.5 million in September 2006. For a team that is paying that much money, they are certainly not seeing a return on their investment in DiPietro.
Fast forward to now, the Islanders’ 31-year-old netminder is officially off injured reserve. For the Islanders, this means that DiPietro’s cap hit and salary will recur until the 2020-21 season, unless the team ends up buying him out or there is amnesty, something he talked about with Newsday sports writer Arthur Staple.
Click here for more on the Islanders' fragile netminder.
When talking about hockey coaches and the impact they have on their respective clubs to be better, one name that should come to mind is legendary Hockey Hall of Famer Herb Brooks.
Brooks was behind the bench when Team USA won Olympic Gold in 1980 and finished with the Silver Medal in 2002. "Herbie" was also behind the bench for the New York Rangers in the early 1980's (1981-85), who could have gone on to do great things had it not been for the terrific New York Islanders' dynasty.
Brooks was a head coach that always seemed to get the most of out of his players, even to a point where they played above themselves. This is exactly one of the reasons why Team USA won gold in 1980. They played their absolute best hockey and the absolute best kind of hockey in the world to beat top powerhouses.
This is one of Brooks's sayings that fits exactly what he tried to do with his hockey clubs:
"I dare you to be better than you are. I dare you to be a thoroughbred."
Believe it or not folks, this should also sound a lot like someone you already know. In fact, this someone is the current man behind the Rangers' bench.
When it comes to hockey, there is no doubt that goaltending is a key cog in the machine that makes up a hockey team.
For the New York Rangers, the main cog between the pipes is Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist is everything a team could want in a starting netminder as he is consistent, plays and wins a lot of games, makes key saves at the right time, gets his team into the postseason and more importantly, makes them a contender in what is a very talented Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference.
With that said, it is important that the machine has a backup cog in case something goes wrong with the main one or if it needs to be replaced so that it can rest. In the case of the Blueshirts, this particular cog is back-up goaltender Martin Biron.
Since joining the Blueshirts in the 2010-11 season, Biron has been a netminder that the Rangers can rely on to give them a chance to win when he is between the pipes. In his two seasons on Broadway, Biron has won 20 games, picked-up two shutouts and has posted impressive goals against averages of 2.13 and 2.46, respectively.
While the numbers clearly show that Biron is more than just your average back-up goaltender, there is a lot more to him than just the stats. For starters, Biron's experience as a starting goaltender for both the Buffalo Sabres and Philadelphia Flyers has helped him in his transition to being a full-time back-up NHL goaltender.
This is important because Biron knows how to prepare for games. He knows what it takes to start in games and he knows what he needs to do to be ready. When between the pipes for the Rangers these last two years, his preparation has shown with his steady play when team head coach John Tortorella puts him in net.
When it comes to great New York Rangers' defensemen, one thinks of Brian Leetch, Brad Park, Harry Howell, Ron Greschner, as well as a few others.
Nowadays, the Blueshirts have several terrific defensemen. Last season, along with the great play of netminder Henrik Lundqvist, the team's defensive corps finished third in the league in goals allowed and helped Lundqvist win his first Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender.
With that said, there is one defenseman on the Blueshirts that stands just above the rest. Believe it or not, it is not Dan Girardi or Marc Staal.
Rather, it is 23-year-old Ryan McDonagh. Looking back at the deal that brought McDonagh to the Blueshirts, it appears that Glen Sather absolutely robbed the Montreal Canadiens.
In his first season on Broadway in 2010-11, McDonagh scored 1 goal and added 8 assists for 9 points in 40 games. While that is not a lot of offense, it was his strong defensive plays that opened up the eyes of the organization and its fans.
New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with defenseman Steve Eminger on a new contract.
Eminger, 28, skated in 42 games with the Rangers last season, registering two goals and three assists for five points, along with 28 penalty minutes. He tied his career-high for most assists in a game with two assists, including one on the power play and one while shorthanded, on December 10 at Buffalo.
He missed 32 games due to injury, including 20 games from December 20 to February 5 with a separated shoulder. Eminger also skated in four postseason contests, making his Rangers playoff debut on April 28 against Washington.
Defenseman Steve Eminger returns to the Rangers for a third season after seeing action in 42 games last year and more than 100 total games since joining the organization just over two years ago.
The 6-2, 203-pounder has recorded four goals and seven assists in 107 games with the Rangers over the last two seasons. He made his Rangers debut in the 2010-11 season opener on October 9 at Buffalo, and tallied his first point as a Blueshirt in the home opener that season on October 15 against Toronto.
Click here for more on Emminger
When it comes to the New York Rangers, a lot has been said about the talented youth they now have both on Broadway and in Connecticut.
One such talented youngster, Derek Stepan, will be entering his third season as an NHLer, and will be looking to continue becoming an even better hockey player than he is now. With 45 (21 goals and 24 assists) and 51 (17 goals and 34 assists) points in his first two seasons, the ceiling has yet to be reached for the 22-year-old Stepan.
There is no doubt that Stepan is a gifted hockey player. Stepan has soft hands, an eye for the net, the ability to make passes and create plays as well as the ability to play well on both sides of the puck.
His abilities were on full display in his first game in the NHL. That night against the Buffalo Sabres in Buffalo, Stepan scored a hat trick while showing the team and its fan that he could be a shining star on Broadway.
Stepan finished his rookie season with 21 goals and 24 assists for 45 points while playing in all 82 games in the regular season. In the playoffs, however, Stepan failed to score a point in a five game series loss to the Washington Capitals.
About Goal Line Report
Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.