The Rangers have completely flipped the script on their ‘soft’ reputation

Welcome to 10 Insights and Observations. Each week, I will use this space to cover teams, players, storylines, and general thoughts about the NHL.

This week, we’ll cover playoff formatting, the Flyers facing reality, risks worth taking, Jack Campbell’s resurrection, Rangers going bully, and more.

The Rangers became hooligans after the defeat of Wilson and Panarin

Monday’s New York Rangers-Calgary Flames game at Madison Square Garden (where else could it be) is an easy contender for the best regular season game of this campaign. It had everything that makes hockey great: speed, fitness, emotion, dramatic goals, roaring crowds, and a sudden death ending.

What really stood out was that the Rangers are now bullies.

It was May 2021 when Tom Wilson contacted Artemiy Panarin and caused shock throughout the Rangers organization. It essentially cost CEO Jeff Gorton his job. Later he said it on a podcast. “I didn’t think this night would be the one where people lose their jobs. And he will forever be remembered for who he is,” Gorton said on the Cam & Strick podcast.

They went and acquired Ryan Reeves after. They were joined by Barclay Goodrow and even Sammy Blais. There was a clear order to become tougher.

And in a January game against a Flames team that has a prominent sandpaper roster, they were the hunters, not the prey. Jacob Truba landed two monster punches. Blay made a big move against Milan Lucic. They did not retreat from any fight. Even with Blaise moving to the Blues on Thursday, this team should still thrive in terms of fitness. I’m not here to say that this will lead them to the promised land one way or another, but the organization had a clear goal, and they seem to have achieved it to a large extent – they are not a team that is pushed around. Be that as it may, they are ranked seventh in the league in hits per team (in 2021 they were 15th).

Jacob Trumpet's wicked streak takes its toll on
Jacob Truba’s villainy rebounded on the Rangers and changed their reputation in the NHL. (Getty)

Caps blue line is holding up nicely without John Carlson

This season, John Carlson has played just 30 games, the last of which took place on December 23, right before Christmas. At the time of the injury, Carlson led all Capitals defensemen in playing time per game, clocking 23:24 per night, as well as scoring 21 points in those games. These are big minutes and production for a replacement.

Unsurprisingly, Dmitry Orlov, who played about a minute and a half less than Carlson, now averages a hair more than Carlson at 23:32 per game. That increase came with equal force as he played just over 21 minutes since Carlson was injured. During this time, there were only six defensemen left in the league who played more per night. He was a horse.

However, the biggest benefactor was Erik Gustafsson, who moved up from fifth to second in the playing time hierarchy among defensemen. It’s not just powerplay time – he only plays 50 seconds more with a player advantage per game. He leads all Capitals defensemen in scoring this season with 12 points in 17 games, a whopping 10 of those points tied.

He had one of the strangest careers I can remember, marked by a 17-goal, 60-point season with the Blackhawks in 2018-19. He stopped the following season, then was traded to the Flames shortly before the league closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and ended up playing in all 10 playoff games. He then signed with Philadelphia when they went into a slump, he was traded to the Canadiens and played in 16 playoff games as they reached the Cup Final. He then re-signed with the Blackhawks and failed to recreate his magical season before signing an $800,000 one-year contract with Washington last summer, where he scored up to seven goals and 29 points in 52 games while winning important moments with their team. The franchise defender was injured.

His teammate, Trevor Van Riemsdyk, also plays an average of two and a half minutes more, averaging 20 games a night. They are also crushing their minutes, hovering around 54 percent in all major categories and leading by five on equal strength. TVR is a steady right-back and Gustafsson is a fast attacking puck-handling weapon.

Meanwhile, Carlson’s regular partner, Martin Fehervari, has been down a minute and a half per game since Carlson lost. A big player injury has a lot of domino effects and it’s always interesting to see how it plays out and who advances to the next level.

Islanders Throw Trade Deadline Party Ahead of Time

At least in a risk-averse league, you have to admire the islanders who go for it. In the 82-game regular season, they are firmly established in the playoffs, but they have a roster built to cause problems in the playoffs.

Ilya Sorokin is one of the best goalkeepers in the world. This is the only way to go very far. Adam Pelekh and Ryan Pulok are a good couple who usually outperform their opponents. Noah Dobson has slowed down in attack, but is still one of the best goalscorers in terms of goals. Scott Mayfield is good.

Now they’re deep in the middle with Bo Horvath, Mat Barzal, JG Pajo, Brock Nelson and Casey Cizikas. This is a veteran group that has been to several conference finals – they know a lot. We always hear how playoff hockey is different from regular season hockey because it’s true. But first you need to get into the playoffs.

The Islanders are battling the Capitals, Penguins, Sabers and Panthers for two vacant seats. They are currently fourth in scoring percentage in this group but are also on a four win streak and look full of energy from a big name. The hardest thing to consider is momentum and the momentum a team can get from a big step.

As a team of veterans, players don’t worry about picking or being eliminated. They traded one squad player for a much better squad player. Last season, the wild-card race was nearly decided on Christmas Day. There are a number of good teams this season that have a legitimate reason to do so. It’s fun. This is how hockey should be in the second half.

Don’t forget Gabriel Landeskog or the defending champions

For all the talk of the big names available as the trade deadline approaches, the biggest acquisition any team can make may not be through a trade at all.

The Colorado Avalanche have yet to play a single game with Gabriel Landeskog this season. He is truly one of the few power forwards left in the game and had a monstrous season last year leading the Avalanche in the Cup with 30 goals and 59 points in just 51 games, as well as 78 penalty minutes and four fights we celebrate . here to emphasize how physically involved he is. Then he scored 11 goals and scored 22 points in 21 playoff games.

There are a lot of good players available this year – more than I can remember in a very long time. I’m not sure anyone is as good as Landeskog if he can come back with full health. The Avalanche were provided with what was indeed their first detailed game plan with Landeskog. this week Jared Bednar said: “Landy is actually working for another week or so until we get back. We will see him again in Denver, probably in the middle of the month, with the intention that this will be the time he returns to start. go out on the ice with our guys. Probably alone first with the medical team, then hopefully Sean Allard, our skating coach and skills coach, and he’ll get back to the club again.”

Avalanche has five days off from February 19th to 24th. They’ve been a little treadmill this season and certainly haven’t played to their potential given all their injuries, yet they’re still third in their division looking down. First round matchup with the Winnipeg Jets. The West is now wide open. Avs should get healthy, but the path to repetition is on the table if they do.

Off-season drama in the NHL is nothing to sneeze at

One often hears things like “Why the NHL can’t match the NBA in terms of league drama and trades.” On the surface, this will never happen, because one player will not come close to influencing the final outcome of a hockey game the way one player in the NBA can influence a basketball game.

The landscape of the NBA is constantly changing because one or two players can manage an entire conference one way or another. In fact, that’s exactly what happened when Kevin Durant was traded from a fifth seed team in the Eastern Conference to a team ranked fifth in the Western Conference. The stars rule the league, while there are so many high-profile players on the top NHL teams that just one usually won’t falter much either way.

Source: sports.yahoo.com

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