<span class="vcard">Jason Brough</span>

All of a sudden the Rangers are a ‘disaster in the making’

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The good news is that nobody’s saying the Rangers are due for a regression.

The bad news is they’ve already regressed.

We direct you to this post, published Nov. 24, when the Rangers were sitting pretty at 16-3-2:

The Rangers’ PDO is an NHL-high 107.1, per war-on-ice.com.

The next highest belongs to Ottawa, at 102.7.

Now, granted, given the quality of their goaltending and the way some of their forwards can shoot the puck, nobody should be surprised if the Rangers continue to have a high PDO. They led the NHL last year, finishing at 101.7.

But when it comes to PDO, there’s high and there’s high. Right now, the Rangers are fully in italicized territory. The question isn’t whether they can sustain it; they can’t. It’s what happens when it comes back down to earth, or at least within orbit.

The Rangers are 2-6-2 since we wrote that. Their PDO (combined shooting and save percentage) still leads the NHL, but it’s fallen all the way to 102.9, per war-on-ice.com.

Today, they waived veteran center Jarret Stoll.

Also today? This New York Post headline: “Why the Rangers seemingly are a disaster in the making.”

Now, to be fair, the Rangers have been without two of their key players, Derek Stepan and Kevin Klein. The former is their best two-way center, the latter one of their most dependable defensemen. A “disaster in the making” may be a bit harsh.

But it’s funny how, all of a sudden, a lot more people are willing to concede there might be some issues with this roster, to the point where sentiment may actually have swung too far to the negative.

The Rangers host the red-hot Oilers Tuesday.

Hey, remember when the Oilers were terrible?

If we recall, it was right around the time the Rangers were amazing.

Finally! Corrado to make Leafs debut Tuesday

Tomas Hertl, Frank Corrado
AP
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At long last, Frank Corrado will play.

The 22-year-old Maple Leafs defenseman is expected to be in the lineup Tuesday against the visitors from Tampa Bay.

Corrado has yet to appear in an NHL game since being claimed off waivers from Vancouver in October. The only game action he’s experienced has been in the AHL on a conditioning assignment. (He had three assists in seven games for the Marlies.)

“It might take a few shifts to get back in your rhythm,” Corrado told TSN.ca. “[But] once I get out there, it’s the ACC, hometown team, lot of friends and family in the building, I feel like that’ll take care of itself. That’ll be pretty cool.”

How Corrado fares will, of course, be of interest to observers in Toronto. But his debut will also be closely watched in Vancouver, where Canucks GM Jim Benning was widely criticized for allowing the young d-man to be lost for nothing.

“That was a decision … at the time, we had two or three other players ahead of Frankie on the depth chart,” said Benning. “With Frankie, quite honestly, we thought he needed to play to keep getting better as a player. We didn’t want him sitting around and not playing.”

Oddly enough, that’s exactly what he’s been doing in Toronto, where coach Mike Babcock has been sounding more and more frustrated with all the questions about a kid with 28 NHL games on his resume.

“When we talk about how hard it is it sounds like he’s not in the NHL and not getting paid and not flying on the nice plane,” said Babcock. “I have a hard time feeling sorry for guys playing in the National Hockey League, myself.”

 

Penguins focused on cleaner breakouts

Olli Maatta
AP
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So far, much of what’s been written and said about the Pittsburgh Penguins’ coaching change has focused on the contrasting personalities of the old guy, Mike Johnston, and the new guy, Mike Sullivan.

Johnston has been painted as the soft-spoken, analytical type, with Sullivan as the forceful, no-excuses, I-worked-under-John-Tortorella-for-years-and-it-shows type.

And while it’s true that Sullivan has been preaching much the same message that Tortorella preached when he took over the Blue Jackets — i.e. “mindset” over “strategies and schemes” — Sullivan does have some tactical thoughts on what’s needed for the Penguins to make full use of their considerable talents.

It starts with the breakout.

“I think it’s important that you have to try to come out of your end zone as clean as you can, and as efficient as you can,” Sullivan told NHL.com. “Preferably, you’d like to come out with the puck and so, we’re going to try to implement some schemes to help us try to do that. We’re going to work on that a lot, and that’s going to be a point of emphasis.”

That’s going to be interesting to watch, because even GM Jim Rutherford conceded there was a personnel issue with this team.

“Part of this falls on me because I didn’t get the defensemen that were necessary to have more movement from the back-end and I think more puck movement from the back-end generates more scoring opportunities,” Rutherford said, per Yahoo Sports.

And don’t forget Kris Letang, arguably Pittsburgh’s best puck-mover, could be out two weeks with an injury. Young Olli Maatta is maybe their best now.

Anyway, just something to keep in mind when you watch the Pens host the Caps tonight.

“The more we can execute under pressure and come out of our end, we’ve got a lot of guys who can make plays,” said captain Sidney Crosby, per TSN.ca. “That’s something we worked on [in practice] and something that can definitely help in that area.”

Virginia Beach arena developer to ‘aggressively’ pursue NHL team

Virginia Beach arena
United States Management rendering
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Quebec City.

Las Vegas. 

Seattle.

Virginia Beach.

Everyone knows that these markets want an NHL expansion team. The question is whether...Sorry? What was that? Oh, you want to know how Virginia Beach got in there?

Yes, the resort city of Virginia Beach wants an NHL team. Or an NBA team. Either will do. Because a new arena could be under construction as soon as next year. It might as well have a tenant, right?

Virginia Beach City Council approved the privately financed 18,000-seat arena earlier this week, after which the developer referenced the NHL’s expansion process during a press conference.

“The NHL currently has two considerations of two potential teams that are on the table right now that they’re going through that process, and so now that we have those approvals we can certainly pursue that more aggressively,” United States Management CEO Andrea Kilmer said, per 13newsnow.com.

“We have had discussions with the NHL. We feel confident that this market is right for an NHL team,” Kilmer said, per The Hampton Roads Business Journal.

USM still needs to close the financing with its Chinese lenders, but apparently shovels could be in the ground sometime next year.

Click here to read more about the developer’s plans for the arena. They even produced this informative video:

I have no idea if the NHL would ever consider putting a team in Virginia Beach. I’m skeptical, but according to Wikipedia, “Virginia Beach is the 3rd largest metropolitan area in the United States without a club in a major professional sports league, after the Las Vegas and Austin metropolitan areas.”

So you never know. Maybe if the Canadian dollar keeps falling, the Jets could move there. (Just kidding, Winnipeg. That’s not funny, I know.)

Anyway, as I was saying, everyone knows that these markets want an NHL expansion team. The question is whether they’ll get one.

The end.

Don’t tell the commish, but the Canadian dollar keeps falling

Canadian Dollar Advances To Highest Level Since March 2008
Getty
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Gary Bettman doesn’t like it when the media brings up the Canadian dollar. He thinks we make an unnecessarily big deal over it, and that we don’t really understand how it affects NHL revenues.

And hey, that may be true. We’re not privy to the league’s books, and I don’t think we’re going to get an invite to peruse them anytime soon.

But for the record, the Canadian dollar got smoked again today. It’s now fallen below 0.73 USD.

The culprit? Oil, of course.

From CBC.ca:

The price of a barrel of crude oil dropped to yet another six-year low Friday, losing more than $1 to trade at $35.73 US, and taking the Canadian dollar down with it.

The loonie has repeatedly broken a series of 11-year lows this month on its downward slide. Friday’s low is the lowest point for Canada’s dollar since May 2004, when the currency went as low as 71 cents.

It could reach those 2004 lows soon. Most analysts expect the loonie to fall even lower before it stabilizes.

The commissioner was, of course, asked about the Canadian dollar this week in Pebble Beach, after next season’s salary cap was pegged at $74.5 million.

And, of course, he tried to downplay any concerns.

“It’s only December,” Bettman told Yahoo Sports. “We still have a lot more of the season to play and a lot more revenues to collect.”

But the consensus was that $74.5 million — it’s currently $71.4 million — was an optimistic projection, given the revenue uncertainty. It also included the CBA-mandated five percent inflator, which the NHLPA could always try to renegotiate downward if the players say enough’s enough with regards to escrow.

(The players considered doing that last year, but ultimately decided not to. An NHLPA spokesman told me Tuesday that it was “much too early” for “detailed discussions” about the inflator, but that it will “be addressed as it is every year.”)

Now, there’s no sense quibbling over exactly how much the Canadian dollar affects revenues. But it clearly does affect them. And if you’re the GM of a team that’s up against the cap — like, say, the Kings — and you’re trying to re-sign your key guys — like, say, Anze Kopitar and Milan Lucic — you’re definitely monitoring what’s going on in the currency market.

Because this is what’s happened the last two years:

dollar

Only time will tell if the media is going a bit too Chicken Little on this issue. We’ll admittedly do that on occasion.

“While there’s a lot of speculation as to what the declining Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar means, most of that commentary and speculation is a little off of the mark,” Bettman said.

But look again at that chart.

The sky may not be falling, but the loonie sure has.

Related: Kings reportedly want to start Lucic extension talks soon