Last week we answered some of the most pressing Rangers questions in the first part of our mailbag. if you remember, we put out the call for questions on Dec. 5, the day before the current seven-game winning streak began, and there’s still more to answer; To the second part!
Could you please summarize Trocheck’s performance so far? There appears to be a growing disdain for him among the Rangers media and fans. However, I see a competent two-way center with a nose for the net and the ability to score so far…all while adjusting to a new team and musical chairs. Was it always to be judged on his relationship with Bradman? I’m not over admiring her, just confused. – Tom S.
Trocheck is advertised. tough player with quite a bit of skill, a guy who can win faceoffs, kill penalties, fit on the top power unit and cause pain.
These were the famous ones. The big unknown was whether he could hang with Artemi Panarin, and so far the answer is sort of, but that didn’t really matter either, as Trocheck’s new second line appears to be centered in the heart of this stretch. to run
Panarin has rotated between the three centers this season, with the bulk of his 5-5 time alongside Trocheck, just 300 minutes per Natural Stat Trick: 106:03 (and counting) alongside Mika Zibanejad and 75:10 alongside Filip Chytil :
Panarin was his usual self with all of them. It looked worse with Trocheck as they were underwater in actual goals, but shot an impressive 57.1 percent. They were together mostly during Trochek’s difficult post-stroke period, so luck was not on their side.
Now, Gerard Gallant has gone with Panarin-Zibanejad-Barclay Goodrow, which worked well in Philly and less so in Chicago, while the real revelation is the Chris Kreider-Trocheck-Jimmy Vess line. It will be interesting to see how Gallant deploys that line Tuesday night in Pittsburgh; they’ve been a decent breakout line at times, as well as one that can score off transition plays.
But aside from the length of Trocheck’s deal, there’s nothing to worry about with him so far.
Every time I’ve seen Johnny Brodzinski with a big team, I’ve been impressed. What am I missing? – Jay B.
As fourth line centers go, he’s pretty decent. He really came from the AHL knowing what he had to do to stay. play fast, play physical and get off the ice.
It probably took a while for NHL evaluators to realize what he can and can’t do at this level. He is a regular scorer in the AHL. A go-to guy for Hartford in three seasons there, so there’s probably an expectation that he’ll do the same here, and that never translated in his eight pro seasons.
But he brings more speed than Ryan Carpenter, and lining up with Julien Gauthier makes that fourth line look healthier than it did at the start of the season. With the Rangers fit right now up front, Brodzinski is the right choice.
Can he keep it up, the next question to ask? That was a problem for him. But this team has a lot of scorers and he seems to know his role, so he should stick around for a while.
How do the players feel about their captain? Doesn’t seem like a particularly cohesive team. – Chris R.
In fairness to Chris, this was a few weeks ago. You don’t want to attribute all seven wins in this streak to Trump’s outburst against the Hawks on Dec. 4 at MSG, but it sure got the right message from the right guy.
When I heard (and wrote) last year that Truba was indeed the only choice for captain, there was some skepticism from commentators who thought others would be better choices, or that Truba’s albatross contract would get in the way of him wearing it. C for many years.
Even the few of us who frequent the locker room don’t know much about what goes on or how guys fit into the leadership hierarchy. But several players and staff have said while covering the team that no one does the little things — checking in on teammates, providing lines of communication to coaches and front office about concerns or speaking up — more than Truba.
Few players want that kind of responsibility. Most people like to have one or two or three guys who go to the coach with a question or stand in front of reporters to answer for a silly play or say the tough things that need to be said during a losing streak.
Trocheck has done a decent job of being vocal and leading in his first season. Panarin has taken certain steps in that area. Kreider is a beloved teammate, but doesn’t want to be in the spotlight all the time. Zibanejad would probably be second choice for the captain and his voice, albeit quiet, goes a long way there.
But no one who’s been there in the past few years says anyone other than Truba is the true boss of the room. I follow what current and former teammates say. So aside from his injury and some really ugly games this season, Truba is the guy. They all wanted it to be.
Paint us an alternative picture of history. Where do you think this team would be right now if the JD/Gorton regime didn’t end soon? – Sam B.
This is a good one. I think at the very least Vitaly Kravtsov would have had a bigger role at this point and the Pavel Buchnevich trade might have gone very differently or not at all.
I don’t think Barclay Goodrow is a Ranger at this point either.
The bigger question is whether David Quinn will still be on the bench. Of course, yes, to start last season. Had they come close to 2021-22 without him, Quinn would still be there right now.
Now, whether Gorton would have been as aggressive at the trade deadline last season is a real stretch, maybe not, given his patient stance throughout the rebuild. He could determine whether the group could succeed without outside help.
I still think last season’s success would have been achieved regardless of who was in charge. Igor Shesterkin’s incredible season wasn’t based on anything other than Shesterkin himself, so maybe even if Quinn was still behind the bench instead of Gallant, it would have happened.
But I think any hiccup in the last year or so would spell misery for the owner’s room, so Chris Drury could be inserted almost anywhere. Be interesting to see where Drury would have gone with his coaching choices had it been any other time than 18 months ago.
Is there anyone outside of Mika whose shot other teams should fear? Are they taking more shots by design, or has the rest of the league decided that if we take away all the nice passes, we can give up more shots, but the quality will drop significantly? – Anthony F.
Just as a direct comparison between the same dates last season and this season on Clear Sight Hockey, here is the scoring opportunity breakdown and expected goal totals:
2021-22: 746 scoring chances, 96 expected goals, 79 scored goals
2022-23. 993 chances, 121 xG, 103 goals scored
The current team is simply creating more scoring chances, both good and not so good, than last season. So I think it’s really a case of looking for shots while also looking for better shots given the moment.
These Rangers are a much deeper threat, which is probably the reason for the big improvement. The game of power is still good. Even at strength, Chytil is a changed player. So is Kakko. Trocheck is a landing player, while Ryan Strome was less so. A few weeks ago, Gauthier’s offense is still more than last season’s fourth line.
K’Andre Miller made a big offensive move. Adam Fox is back to his Norris Trophy level.
In short, this team is a good attacking team. Zibanejad’s big one-timer on the power play is the best shot on the team, but nice passes mean something, too.
(Photo by Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports)