Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The New York Rangers.
The Rangers are the classic “tease” team. They offer one of the best goalies in the world, top-end offensive talent, and sound defensive work. They should be a Stanley Cup contender each year. “Should” being the operative word there.
Looking at how they’ve finished the last few years, it’s been a roller coaster. In the past four seasons they’ve missed the playoffs, been bounced out in the first and second rounds and made it to the Eastern finals two seasons ago. They’ve done everything but make the Stanley Cup Final and now they’ll look to do that with a coach who was there as recently as 2011 and knows a fair bit about the sting of unfulfilled expectations.
The Rangers are young and talented but their franchise goalie, Henrik Lundqvist, is itchy to win now.
The biggest news of the summer came when the Rangers fired John Tortorella and hired former Canucks coach Alain Vigneault to replace him. The thought here is that Torts wore out the players with his tough ways and that Vigneault will help tap into the Rangers’ offensive potential a bit more.
As for player news, the Rangers kept it rather quiet. They acquired former Canadiens prospect Danny Kristo in exchange for their own prospect Christian Thomas in a trade. Free agency was equally low-key with signings like defenseman Aaron Johnson and forwards Benoit Pouliot and Dominic Moore. Moore’s story in particular is inspiring returning to hockey after the sudden passing of his wife.
Now if they can just get restricted free agent Derek Stepan taken care of and maybe start negotiating with their three potential unrestricted free agents next summer (Lundqvist, Ryan Callahan, Dan Girardi), GM Glen Sather can take a breather.
The Rangers’ core is strong (did we forget to mention Rick Nash?) and there’s no reason to think they won’t be a Stanley Cup threat again this season.
Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
Video isn’t yet available, but My Regular Face’s GIF captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.
It’s unlikely that Chris Stewart will generate another 30-goal season in the NHL, but he still might be missed by the Anaheim Ducks.
The team announced that the ornery forward is expected to miss four-to-eight weeks with a fractured jaw. If that’s the recovery window, Stewart may go into the playoffs a little rusty (if he can get in any regular season games at all).
The Ducks didn’t elaborate, but the Columbus Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline believes that the injury happened during a fight with Dalton Prout of the Columbus Blue Jackets. You can see that brawl in the video above.
One bright side for Anaheim: if they believe that they need to replace what Stewart brings to the table (rugged play with a dash of offense), then at least this injury happened before the the Feb. 29 trade deadline.
As many expected, the Minnesota Wild will make John Torchetti their interim head coach, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo.
(He’s not the only one to report as much, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie also stated that he’s likely to take the job.)
The team itself hasn’t made an official announcement about Torchetti, and the reasoning is probably simple enough: he’s coaching their AHL affiliate the Iowa Wild on Saturday night.
Torchetti is no stranger to the NHL, although he’ll probably be frustrated if this opportunity doesn’t turn into a full-time gig. He was also an interim head coach for the Los Angeles Kings and Florida Panthers.
As of this writing, the Wild are in a three-way tie for the first spot outside of the West’s wild card mix, although they could sink a bit depending upon how Arizona and Vancouver handle the one game they have in hand on the Wild.
More importantly, Minnesota’s currently three points behind Nashville for the final wild card spot.
That’s not an impossible goal for Torchetti. For whatever it’s worth, Sports Club Stats gives Minnesota a 34.7 percent chance to make the playoffs.
(Note: photo via the Iowa Wild.)