The NHL says that it is taking "head shots" out of the game. For the 2nd time in 3 weks, Rangers Captain and All-Star Ryan McDonagh has been forced from games due to clear shots to the head from players on teams that are not going to be in the playoffs. The worst part is that in both instances, the referees were right on the spot and saved the offenders from a beating in responce from the injured Ranger teammates. The difference between the 70's cheapshots and what is happening now in the NHL is that the refs and linesmen jump to stop the defending of the injured player where back in the 70's, if you gave a cheapshot, you had to pay for it right there on the spot. The NHL can easily put a stop to these type of hits that the players are saying the NHL wants to take out of the game. Here is the way to end it easily....if you give a "head shot" it's automatically a 5 game suspension and if the injured player is out for more than 5 games, the offending player that caused the injury is suspended for the same amount of games and the player he injured is out. It's as simple as that. If the NHL really wants these head shots out of the game, the coach should be tied into it also. When a team like Toronto who is clearly out of the playoff race does something so clear cut cheapshot to the head, the coach should also face a 5 game suspension and lose pay also. If the NHL did these things, it would clearly stop these type of hits. The refs also need to stop protecting these players that meaningfully injure another player, and let him take the beating or defend himself at the time of the incident. There would clearly be a few players that would suffer the penalties from a borderline hit, but the coaches would speak about "playing it on the safe side" because they want to be behing the bench and getting paid and the players would make sure they stay away from the head area while hitting. The NHL also needs to get a real Department of Discipline and not the "players" on it now. All you have to do is look at the careers of those players and everything is explained on why it is such a damn mess.
This Rangers team is finally starting to play up to their potential. For a team that has been in the go for it now mode the last few years, they are starting to hit their stride at the right time finally. The Rangers over the last few years has played hard from the beginning of the season straight through their last playoff game of each season which has ended in a loss. The Rangers have won a Division, an Eastern Conference Title, and a Presidents Trophy. Has coach Vigneault been playing possum this season? Has the coach been making line changes constantly so that the Rangers would be prepared for a major playoff injury like what happened last year to a few Rangers and will be able to adjust better? The Rangers have gone 9-3-1 while missing some key players like Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein, and others.
The big question surrounding the Rangers are what move/moves will be made going into the trade deadline. Getting Rick Nash healthy will be a great addition and solidy the top 3 lines. There is alot of talk as of late about a bigtime move and adding Eric Staal (who was quoted by TSN as stating" ..if I was moved I wouldn't be heartbroken"). That would cost the Rangers a lineup player (probaly along the lines of an Oscar Lindberg or Kevin Klein). To add a player of that magnitude, Rangers 1st year G.M. Gorton has to make sure that he doesn't shake up the locker room too much. The Rangers success over the last few years is clearly because the core group in the locker room is tight knit and clearly like a family. Sometimes that's good and sometimes not so much. Last year in the playoffs when Zuccarello was injured, Carl Hagelin broke down and his play was clearly affected. This team is not good enough at this point to beat teams like Washington, Chicago, St. Louis, or L.A. in a 7 game series. I don't see the Rangers going blockbuster like they did last year for Yandle, but can see them going more like the '94 season when they added a few proven players to silidify the bottom 6 and have enough proven depth on defense to replace those that will get injured during a hopeful long playoff run.
The next 10 days will show where the Rangers are planning to fix their lineup and prepare for the playoffs. Hopefully this club will get another faceoff guy that also is a big body player. On defense, the Rangers could use a crease clearing defensive defenseman since as of late, the coach has been using Yandle correctly on the powerplay. The Rangers should keep Yandle and use him as a rental player if they are going to make a few smaller moves to go for it this season. If new G.M. Gorton wants to make this team in his mold, he should trade Yandle where he could get a roster player, prospect, and top 2 round pick. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to take 2 steps forward. Folowing where the Rangers scouts have been according to SNYRANGERS Blog, over the last few weeks the Rangers have been at the Columbus Blue Jackets games 5 times and the Jackets AHL team once. It would be obvious they are looking at Kerby Rychel who was called up to be showcased in the NHL after the Rangers scouted him in the AHL. The other 3 top teams Ranger scouts have been reported to be at were the Ducks (Vatanen has been rumored many times), Flames (Jiri Hudler-who the Rangers have enough cap room for), and Toronto (JVR grew up a Rangers fan and is a local N.J. kid). Where the McDonagh injury puts the Rangers only the G.M. knows right now. It may be time for another Rangers/Columbus deal as the only players left in the Rangers organization from past deals are Rick Nash, Derrick Brassard, and 3rd round 2013 pick Pavel Buchnevich while on the Columbus side they still have Brandon Dubinsky and 2013 1st rounder Kerby Rychel.
LET'S GO RANGERS!!!