I have to be honest. It’s hard to get used to this again. When the team has had so much success since ‘05-06, it’s not easy to watch the Rangers lose regularly. They dropped their fifth in a row on Thursday night by a score of 3-1 to the Canadiens in a lopsided game up north.
All five defeats have come in regulation. So as the mediocre Blue Jackets, Islanders and Canes compete for the last playoff spot with the Panthers quietly sneaking up from behind, the Rangers remain stuck on 59 points entering tonight’s match against the Wild.
At this point, it’s more about watching some of the new players shift to shift. Two new guys made their Rangers debuts yesterday. One was defenseman Rob O’Gara who was acquired from Boston in the Nick Holden trade. The other was goalie Alexandar Georgiev, who finally made his NHL debut.
In a game Montreal controlled from start to finish, I came away impressed with the 22-year old Georgiev. He was under siege at times but did quite well in stopping 38 of 40 shots. Neither goal the Habs scored was on him. Both were tap ins on poor coverage breakdowns.
Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Petry were left wide open for easy finishes against a struggling New York defense which includes the forwards. The same story of almost every loss. O’Gara got baptized literally when he forgot where Plekanec was for Montreal’s first goal. He will learn. There was no support from the top line on Petry’s 10th.
So, you get what you get. A overmatched team that skated without now ex-Ranger Michael Grabner and soon to be traded Rick Nash. He won’t play tonight either. There’s no reason for him to. He will finish with 145 goals and 252 points with 111 of those goals coming at even strength. When he gets dealt between now and Monday’s 3 PM trade deadline all depends on what GM Jeff Gorton feels is the best return. He did well with Grabner getting Russian D prospect Igor Rykov and New Jersey’s second round pick in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. That gives the Blueshirts eight draft picks. Once Nash goes, it should increase to nine, which will give Gorton the opportunity to package a few in a attempt to move up.
I’m on record as wanting the Blueshirts to get big power forward Brady Tkachuk. The younger brother of current Calgary Flame Matthew, who has been on fire in the second half. I would know since I’ve decided to keep him in my fantasy league where I’m dead last with very good keepers.
Brady Tkachuk was very good in the 2018 U20 World Junior Championship posting three goals and six assists for nine points while playing on the top line with Sabres 2017 first round pick Casey Mittlestadt for Team USA. They helped lead them to a bronze medal following a disappointing loss to Sweden.
Tkachuk has a similar pedigree as brother Matthew from great American hockey player and father Keith. Brady has the size, net front presence and puck skills to become a imposing power forward. He’s doing well in his freshman year for Boston University. His 25 points (7-18-25) are tied for fourth on the team with recently drafted Jordan Greenway, Shane Bowers and potential Ranger trade target Dante Fabbro the notables.
Given where they currently are, the Rangers will have to continue losing. With Florida finally passing them and Detroit a point behind, there’s still room to drop further increasing their slim chances at winning the Draft Lottery for Dahlin. The favorites remain last overall Arizona, 30th Buffalo and 29th Ottawa who is on the verge of trading Derick Brassard to the Pens. Though the latest is it’s gotten complicated due to his salary. We’ll see where it goes. I don’t want to see Brassard in a Pens jersey.
When the Rangers play after 7 PM in a little bit, they’ll have Chris Kreider back. He will help them obviously be more competitive. What that means in the final 21 games remains to be seen.
If Dahlin and American D prospect Quinn Hughes are out of reach, I’m hoping Tkachuk will be there when they pick. It’s rare that you can draft a big scoring forward who plays with the edge this club has lacked since Ryan Callahan went to Tampa. He pales in comparison size wise. He is a overachiever. Now that he’s healthy, the Lightning are benefiting again from the trade that brought Martin St. Louis to Broadway for the memorable run in 2014 and a near return to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 before he retired.
There’s nothing else to discuss with this team. Outside the trades, young players and draft, that’s it. The games for the most part are uninteresting. You have to pay close attention to the kids during their shifts. I’ll try my best.