Dan Boyle

New York Rangers ’15-16 Outlook


If you’re fascinated by athletes chasing big numbers in contract years, then the New York Rangers have been a go-to source of entertainment in recent years.

It’s difficult (if not nebulous) to try to quantify the impact of “greed is good,” but the Rangers are a hungry team with plenty of motivation in 2015-16. That’s what happens when you mortgage bits of your future via trades and employ some players chasing their next checks.

You never really know how wide open a Stanley Cup window might be.

Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault saw that in action in Vancouver, as the franchise declined from a huge contender to a bubble team in little time.

We’ve asked more than once if Henrik Lundqist’s elite days are numbered. It’s also worth noting that at 31, Rick Nash is in the middle of that age in which snipers see a slide in production.

The contract year situations aren’t of “uh oh, we better re-sign Henrik Lundqvist/our current captain/Derek Stepan” enormity, but they’re still intriguing.

On defense, you have veteran Keith Yandle and fading graybeard (literally) Dan Boyle. Antti Raanta also enters a pivotal year as an NHL backup.

The forward group might be the most intriguing.

Just look at the pending RFAs alone: Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, J.T Miller and Emerson Etem. There’s some fascinating potential for all four of those players.

Even with Boyle’s $4.5 million cap hit set to expire, salary cap gymnastic may be required once again in the summer of 2016.


Paying players after strong years – and learning to let some of the less essential ones go – has been a pretty rewarding process for the Rangers, even if there’s been the occasional miss (see: Anton Stralman).

Poll: Are the Rangers still Cup contenders?


Martin St. Louis’ final NHL season is a jarring testament to how quickly someone’s window can close in sports.

After years of being an underrated point producer and consistently defying age, it almost felt like a switch flipped for St. Louis; he looked very much like a 40-year-old during the final stretch of his career.

The New York Rangers need to do whatever they can to avoid a parallel fate.

Granted, the Rangers aren’t rife with older players. Aside from Dan Boyle (who’s 39), the Rangers are well-stocked with prime-age players. Life is pretty good when you’re worried if your 33-year-old superstar goalie can remain the star that Henrik Lundqvist is.

Still, there’s a risk that they could decline. Despite winning a Presidents’ Trophy with two teams this decade, head coach Alain Vigneault can be a little polarizing.

On top of that, there is the possibility that Lundqvist may finally hit a wall. That’s a scary thought for a team that still depends heavily upon their goalie.

Heck, the Rangers may also miss St. Louis, after all.

One would expect to see the Rangers as at least a playoff pick for most prognosticators, but what do you expect from a team still shooting for a Cup?

Bish Mode! Resilient Bolts ride Bishop to Game 3 win over ‘Hawks


CHICAGO — They’re a tough bunch, these Bolts.

A tough bunch indeed.

After getting badly outshot in the opening frame — playing with an injured goalie that struggled simply getting to his feet — the Lightning once again found a way to fight through adversity, scoring a vital 3-2 win over Chicago in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Cedric Paquette scored the game-winner with just over three minutes remaining…

… Which, under normal circumstances, would make him a shoe-in for hero of the night. Yet on Monday, that designation went to Ben Bishop, who battled through an unspecified injury to stop 36 shots — his second-highest save total of the entire postseason.

That’s right. On a night where he was clearly laboring, Bishop made more saves than all but one game these playoffs — when he stopped 43 in a double-OT win over Montreal in Round 2.

Most of Bishop’s action on Monday night came in a wild first period. The Blackhawks, determined to test the Tampa goalie after 48 hours of uncertainty regarding his physical state, fired 19 shots on goal — and another 11 that were either blocked or missed the target. Chicago dominated proceedings, yet only Brad Richards was able to beat Bishop, canceling out Ryan Callahan’s opening tally at the five-minute mark.

In the second period, the tide started to turn.

The Bolts out-shot the ‘Hawks 17-7, with both goalies making all the necessary stops. Crawford, as the numbers suggest, was the busier of the two netminders as Tampa Bay did a nice job of coming to Bishop’s aid, carrying the play while preventing another shooting gallery.

In the third, Tampa Bay again showed it resiliency — much like it did in Game 2.

Just 13 seconds after Brandon Saad looked to have scored a huge goal, the “Triplets” went to work — Ondrej Palat converted on assists from Nikita Kucherov and Tyler Johnson to even the score at 2-2. It was the line’s 31st goal in 23 games this postseason and one of the quickest replies in Stanley Cup Final history:

The two teams traded chances following the Palat goal, but it was Paquette who notched the decisive tally and first playoff game-winning goal of his career. What followed was more Bishop heroics, as he finished the final frame with 12 saves.

At the end of a day in which he said he felt like Marshawn Lynch, tonight’s effort was Bish Mode indeed.


With an assist on tonight’s opening goal, Victor Hedman set a new Lightning franchise record for career playoff assists (20) by a defenseman… Hedman (23 pts in 45 GP) later surpassed Dan Boyle (22 in 45) for most career playoff points by a Bolts blueliner… Richards’ first-period tally was his first Stanley Cup Final goal since scoring one with Tampa Bay in 2004.

Related: ‘It took him a few years, but Victor Hedman’s arrived’

Yzerman, Sather, Murray finalists for GM of the Year


The NHL GM of the Year award has come down to Tampa Bay’s Steve Yzerman, the New York Rangers’ Glen Sather, and Anaheim’s Bob Murray.

For Murray its an opportunity to become the first general manager to win the award twice since it was first given in 2010. Anaheim won its division for the third straight year and is fighting the Chicago Blackhawks for a berth into the Stanley Cup Final.

Murray helped bring the Ducks to the next level in the playoffs by acquiring Ryan Kesler from Vancouver in the summer of 2014 in exchange for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and two draft picks. Kesler had a solid campaign and has been a big help in the postseason with four goals, nine points, and a 61.2 faceoff winning percentage in 12 contests. Perhaps the biggest move was the one Murray didn’t make though. He let goaltender Jonas Hiller walk as a free agent and rather than replace him, Murray put his trust in the idea that one of his two young netminders, Frederik Andersen or John Gibson, would be able to fill the void. So far that’s worked out for Anaheim.

Yzerman’s Tampa Bay Lightning had a 50-24-8 record in the regular season and advanced to the 2015 Eastern Conference Final. Yzerman inherited Steven Stamkos, but he’s done a great job of building a strong team around the superstar. The Lightning have a number of young offensive weapons, including Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, and Ondrej Palat, all of which were acquired during Yzerman’s watch. Kucherov was a late second round selection in 2011 while Palat slipped all the way to the seventh round of the same draft. Johnson meanwhile was never drafted and Yzerman instead lured him over with an entry-level contract in 2011.

The Lightning general manager also acquired a vital piece of the puzzle in 2013 when he sent Cory Conacher and a fourth round pick to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Ben Bishop.

Sather has been running the Rangers’ front office since in 2000 and oversaw their Presidents’ Trophy-winning 2014-15 campaign. He’s made a habit of trading for or signing high-profile players with varying degrees of success. The most recent example is defenseman Keith Yandle, who he pried away from Arizona in March. Some of the other big names he’s acquired in recent years include Rick Nash, Martin St. Louis, and Dan Boyle.

It goes to eleven: Lightning edge Rangers in track meet


The Tampa Bay Lightning enjoyed great production from Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat in Game 3, yet Nikita Kucherov – maybe the least known member of “The Triplets” – ended up being the hero.

He scored a rather stunning 6-5 OT goal against Henrik Lundqvist to give the Lightning a 2-1 series lead against the New York Rangers. Kucherov now has two overtime game-winners to his name.

How much of a chance did Lundqvist have on this?

Really, though, this game had about a dozen subplots that may take some time to unravel in greater detail.

For one thing, it’s easy to forget that the Rangers stormed off to a 2-0 lead. Steven Stamkos came up big early on in the game, however, barreling over Dan Boyle and helping to create a then-important 2-1 goal.

The first period was violent and action-packed, yet it merely set the table for even wilder events, as the second saw a memorable scoring barrage. The final frame of regulation was more about dramatic turns o events as the Rangers tied it up twice, most notably when Dan Boyle made it 5-5 with less than two minutes remaining in the third.

New York generated some dangerous early overtime chances, but ultimately Tampa Bay finished one stride ahead in probably the most frantic track meet of this postseason.

Loose threads

Again, a lot happened in this one, so let’s rattle a few of them off.

More than just a regular season success: Seriously, the work from Palat, Johnson and Kucherov has been stunning. They’ve generated more than half of Tampa Bay’s goals so far in the postseason.

Stamkos is seen: The Lightning’s captain was unusually physical in this one, delivering seven hits, including this giant impact.

Tough night for goalies: Look, there’s no doubt that Ben Bishop and especially Lundqvist made some big saves in this one. With things as wide-open as they were, netminders’ numbers tend to get shredded.

Still, Bishop’s play aroused some doubt in certain quarters while it’s becoming clear that the Lightning are one of the few teams that can at least claim that they have Hank’s number:

Bringing the pain: Matt Carle was unable to finish this game. Wunderkind Johnson was shaken up during a collision with his own linemate Palat. Many guys will fight through aches and pains from this one, but there’s likely to be a few extra ice packs in each locker room.

Leaky defense: The Rangers and Lightning both gave up two-goal leads in this one. Tampa Bay couldn’t put a game away with 5:55 left in the third period. It’s probably safe to say that both coaches will be busy breaking down the tape in this one.

(Alain Vigneault may feel more prone to losing his lunch over Game 3 than Jon Cooper, however.)