Poll: Will the Rangers keep their playoff streak alive?


This post is part of Rangers Day on PHT…

The New York Rangers made the playoffs for a sixth straight time in 2015-16, but they didn’t last long once they got there.

Just five games against the Penguins and it was over. New York was soundly defeated by the eventual champs, outscored by a combined margin of 21 to 10.

Looking back, the season had actually started extremely well for the Blueshirts. They were 16-3-2 after 21 games, their best start in franchise history. However, they were not winning the possession battle, and that caught up to them eventually. The rest of the way, they went 30-24-7, barely holding on for third place in the Metropolitan Division.

Following their elimination by Pittsburgh, head coach Alain Vigneault talked about his team’s struggles.

“The puck-moving ability we’ve shown in the past, for whatever reason, was not as good and it affected a lot of our game,” he said.

That statement seemed particularly troublesome given the likelihood the Rangers would lose two of their puck-movers on the back end. Keith Yandle‘s rights were eventually traded to Florida, where the Panthers thought so highly of the 29-year-old defenseman that they signed him to a massive seven-year, $44.45 million contract. Dan Boyle has not officially retired yet, but said he was leaning towards it.

The Rangers did not make a big splash in free agency. Instead, they signed Michael Grabner, Nathan Gerbe, and Adam Clendening to short-term deals. The first two will add speed up front, but it remains to be seen if they’ll add goals. The latter is an offensive defenseman, but nowhere near as proven as Yandle or Boyle.

A few weeks after free agency, the Rangers traded one of their leading scorers, Derick Brassard, to Ottawa, for younger center Mika Zibanejad. That move might’ve been a good one for the future, but the Sens felt they got the better player in the here and now.

The good news for the Rangers is they still have Henrik Lundqvist in goal. Granted, he struggled down the stretch and into the postseason, but he’s more than earned the benefit of the doubt that he can bounce back, even at 34 years of age. The King hasn’t finished with a save percentage lower than .920 since 2008-09.

OK, time to vote:

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Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.