Found May 29, 2012 on Blue Seat Blogs:
Before we get to the report card for the Rangers blueline, let’s remember this: the Rangers enjoyed a spectacular season bested by only two teams in the entire league. A huge part of this success was because of the Rangers blueline. With that said, let’s look at the grades for the Rangers defensemen. (p.s. if you missed it, here’s the Suit’s take on the top six scoring forwards this season – enjoy.) Dan Girardi For a significant part of the season Dan Girardi played like a Norris Trophy candidate. He was that good. Girardi enjoyed his finest season for the Rangers. With 29 points, a plus 13 rating, being an absolute work horse like few other in the entire league not to mention all the shot blocking, Dan Girardi literally does it all for the Rangers. Aside from a very occasional stumble in the latter half of the season the only things that perhaps stop Girardi from being the perfect all round defenseman are his shooting percentage and lack of presence on the power play (1 goal). I really had to nitpick when trying to criticise Dan Girardi for this post. He is a richly deserved 2012 NHL All Star. Mid-season: A+/Full Season: A+/Playoffs: A+ Ryan McDonagh When thinking about the biggest piece of theft in recent Rangers history it is prudent to remember Mr. McDonagh played just 45 games in the NHL (playoffs inclusive) before this season. With the Marc Staal injury someone had to step up and log big minutes this year and my word did McDonagh answer the call. Like Girardi, McDonagh munched minutes, had some offensive pop to his game – that was more than could be expected for a first full year – and was physically impressive. That doesn’t even begin to do McDonagh justice when you consider his own shot blocking expertise, positional play and his ability to strip the puck carrier. If there was a bone to pick with McDonagh’s season then it would be that he began to look tired in the playoffs (particularly offensively), which was likely due to the excessive workload. After 18 months as an NHL pro, McDonagh is a bona fide top pair defenseman. Thank you Bob Gainey and thank you Glen Sather. Mid-season: A+/Full Season: A+/Playoffs: A Michael Del Zotto Let’s not waste time regurgitating the unreasonable nicknames Del Zotto acquired prior to this season and the ridiculous trade requests from the less patient members of the fan base. For a vast majority of the year Del Zotto showed tremendous progress, impressive consistency and an impressive character to bounce back from a truly unfortunate sophomore season. Del Zotto displayed his offensive game once again with 41 points. He was among the league leaders in +/- for a long time. And despite the stat being oft criticised – no mean feat for a man that was a combined -25 in 127 games entering the season – he showed a surprising level of physical play that was mostly devoid of previously unnecessary positionally sacrificing checks. Del Zotto couldn’t maintain his high standard all year. However, errors were more common toward the end of the season and his offensive game wasn’t quite as impressive as in the first half of the year. Tiredness? All considered, Del Zotto has re-established himself as an impressive young member of the Rangers. Mid-season: A-/Full Season: B+/Playoffs: B+ Marc Staal I’m going to be somewhat harsh on Marc Staal because he has unbelievable talent. Staal missed a significant portion of the year with his concussion issues and naturally this has to be considered when judging the All Star defenseman. That said, Staal never seemed to get any real consistency in the regular season despite dressing for 46 games. With that in mind, it was encouraging that Staal improved in the playoffs suggesting he may get back to his best by the time next year creeps up on us. This year Staal wasn’t his usual dominant self defensively. His decision making wasn’t as sure as normal and his offensive game – that had been growing in recent seasons – basically dried up. Despite all this, Staal came back to average nearly 20 minutes/game in the regular season and shot up to over 25 mins/game in the postseason. With a top four of Girardi, McDonagh, Del Zotto and a hopefully back-to-his-best Staal next season, will any team in the entire league boast a better top four? Mid-season: INC./Full Season: C/Playoffs: B+  Anton Stralman Signed at very short notice after an unsuccessful pre-season with the Devils, Stralman was mostly a pleasant surprise as a Ranger after taking some time to enter and then solidify a place in the line-up. Stralman helped give the Rangers blueline depth when they lost Mike Sauer and while Marc Staal looked to regain game shape. He played a solid game offensively and minimized mistakes in his own end. Averaging a healthy 17 minutes in the regular season, Stralman chipped in with 18 points and for the most part, was one of the few Rangers to actually raise their games in the playoffs. Even if it’s not with the Rangers, Stralman has done enough to not have to consider Europe for employment next year. Though, reports say he is considering crossing the pond for family reasons, which is too bad. Mid-season: A-/Full Season: B/Playoffs: B+ Stu Bickel and Jeff Woywitka These two depth blueliners are bunched together here because both played on the bottom pair, both contributed at various times and both have (at best) question marks around their Ranger futures. While Woywitka likely won’t be back simply because of better options in the organisation, Bickel’s play started promisingly before dipping badly toward the end of the year. Bickel hardly saw the ice when other blueliners were playing big minutes in the playoffs and his lack of polish, the occasional unnecessary fight and more talented options waiting in the wings mean Bickel might have to worry about his status with the club. At times Bickel looks like a promising, rugged depth defenseman, at others he looks a liability. Mid-season: B+, B/Full Season: C+, D+/Playoffs: C-, INC. Steve Eminger I’m really not sure what to say about Steve Eminger and that perhaps says a lot in itself. A season ruined by injury Eminger was often passed over by Tortorella for a man in Bickel who hardly saw the ice in the postseason. Eminger has played well in spots over the past two years for the Rangers, but if he wants a regular shift in the NHL next year (something that he is capable of), he won’t be back with the Rangers. Drafted as an offensive blueliner, Eminger rarely threatened offensively and rarely stood out in general. Was it because of his injuries? We’ll never know. Mid-season: B/Full Season: D/Playoffs: INC. Tim Erixon When the Rangers opened their season in Sweden way back last October, Erixon made his NHL debut amid much anticipation. That said Erixon was drip fed minutes and certainly looked like he needed seasoning when judging his 18 game ‘season’ with the Rangers. Erixon was a quality player at the AHL level with 33 points in 52 games, which likely would have been even better were it not for injuries upsetting form and momentum. At times Erixon looks composed on the puck and his passing and skating ability, not to mention his additional experience gained from this year, should give him a strong chance at starting with the Rangers next season, depending on how the Rangers offseason plays out. INC. Mike Sauer If Mike Sauer returns next year and is able to play close to his 2010-2011 form, then the Rangers truly will have an embarrassment of riches on the back end even if Dave, Suit, myself or any of the Blog team suit up as the sixth defenseman. Mind you, I can hardly skate and two members of our group grew up playing in net. Sauer was an unfortunate victim of a Dion Phaneuf hit that has left a huge cloud over his future. Once considered injury prone, Sauer had begun to establish himself as a good quality top four NHL defenseman until that hit. Sauer can’t be accurately measured by his 19 games this year, but by the heavy minutes the rest of the top four had to play in his absence and the tiredness they would eventually show. INC. Overall The grades above tell a story consistent with the Rangers season on the back end; the top four blueliners were a distinct strength while the bottom pairing (for various reasons) was in an almost constant state of flux. With more consistency in the bottom pair next year – perhaps through Sauer’s return and Erixon’s emergence – the Rangers could possibly boast the best blueline in the entire league, offering hope of another deep post season run.

Gaborik, Prust, Dubinsky Played Through Injuries; Break-Up Day Interviews

The New York Rangers are holding break-up day this afternoon at their training center up in Greenburgh, and as usual, they are speaking with the media for one final time before departing their separate ways for the summer.  According to various media sources, several Rangers admitted to playing through injuries during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. One of those players was Brandon...

Rangers agree to terms with Jesper Fasth

The Rangers have agreed to terms with forward Jesper Fasth, their sixth round draft pick in 2010. Fasth was one of the Swedish Elite League’s top scorers before suffering a gruesome ankle injury that ended his season. In 21 games, Fasth had 16 points (5-11-16) and a +9 rating. The Rangers needed to offer the 5’11″ 176 lb winger a contract prior to the end of June or they would...

Remembering the 2011-2012 New York Rangers

Writing up a eulogy to remember the 2011-12 New York Rangers would not be easy, and I considered this heavily when thinking how I was going to go about writing mine for The Rangers Tribune. The reason the task is so difficult is because this was undoubtedly one of the most memorable Rangers seasons in recent history, with so many landmark events and moments taking place within it...

Mats Zuccarello and Rangers Likely to Part Ways

It was not even an entire day after the New York Rangers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs before the rumor mill to begin churning for the offseason. The name that popped up and popped up often was that of 24-year-old forward Mats Zuccarello. Zuccarello, who becomes a restricted free agent this summer, only played in ten games with the Blueshirts over the course of...

Press Release: New York Rangers Agree To Terms With Jesper Fast

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with forward Jesper Fast. Fast, 20, skated in 21 games with HV71 of the Swedish Elite League (SEL) this season, registering five goals and 11 assists for 16 points, along with four penalty minutes and a plus-nine [...]

Press Release: Rangers Agree To Terms with Free Agent Marek Hrivik

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has agreed to terms with free agent forward Marek Hrivik. Hrivik, 20, led Connecticut (AHL) with five goals and tied for the team lead with nine points in nine playoff games.  He ranked second among AHL rookies in playoff goals, tied [...]

Rangers will look to add more goals to their grit

The New York Rangers had the best record in the Eastern Conference and reached the conference finals on the strength of a tough defense, great goaltending and a relentlessly rugged style. What they lacked, and what ultimately led them to being ousted by the New Jersey Devils on Friday, was some more scoring to go with all that grit. The Rangers finished the regular season ranked...

Rangers sign Marek Hrivik

The Rangers are beginning to make waves with their prospects and ATO candidates. Just a day after announcing the signing of Jesper Fast, the Rangers have announced that they have agreed to terms with UFA winger Marek Hrivik. Hrivik earned a lot of press coverage when he exploded in the AHL playoffs, leading Connecticut in goals (5) and points (9) in nine playoff games. Hrivik will...

Rangers GM struggling with elimination

Rangers general manager Glen Sather is still having a tough time dealing with his top-seeded club's elimination in the Eastern Conference finals. Sather, the architect of the Edmonton Oilers' dynasty teams in the 1980s, is still looking to build a champion in New York. He saw the Rangers reach the NHL final four, but they were knocked out in six games by the New Jersey Devils...

Shot blocking detractors piss me off: Rangers coach John Tortorella on WFAN

On May 7th the NY Post's Larry Brooks wrote, "The Rangers and Capitals will play a pivotal Game 5 tonight at Madison Square Garden in an eastern semifinal matchup that might otherwise be known as the... Full story at Bob's Blitz ~

Henrik Lundqvist Apparently Did Touch the Cup this past Weekend

Page 6 reports NY Rangers Henrik Lundqvist, Brandon Dubinsky, Stu Bickel and Mats Zuccarello partied late into the night at 1Oak Friday following their OT loss to the New Jersey Devils. Saturday... Full story at Bob's Blitz ~

The First Game 7 SCF Overtime Game

from John Kreiser of, No one gave the New York Rangers much of a chance in the 1950 Stanley Cup Final. Not only were the fourth-place Rangers facing the first-place Red Wings, they wouldn’t even get to play a home game – Madison Square Garden had its annual spring visit from the circus, and the clowns and elephants took precedence over the Rangers and Red Wings. After...

Taking a Small Break from Posting Regularly

Hey there, folks. I just wanted to apologize for not having posted anything substantial in the last few days. When it comes to New York Rangers’ hockey, there really is not much to write/blog about right now. The team finished packing up, is going home for the summer and do not have to worry about anything for the next few months. With that said, it is my plan to be here all...

Offensive Offense

There were obviously numerous reasons the Rangers didn't advance to the Stanley Cup Finals this season, but to me the most glaring was their lack of offense, which Dave Lozo at agrees with..."During the postseason, when every inch of ice around the net becomes prime real estate teams are willing to defend with their lives, the offense dried up. The Rangers averaged...

Break-up Day

Yesterday was breakup day for the Rangers and to me the most interesting quotes came from the free agents (via Blueshirts United)...Brandon Prust (UFA)..."I love it here and we have a good thing going and a good group of guys and a great organization, so I would love to be back. Obviously money is a factor, but it's not the biggest factor for me. Being a big part of a winning...
NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.