5 Thoughts: The Canadiens, Chris Kreider, the St. Louis trade, the greatness of Stralman, and the opportunity for Nash

May 19th, 2014 at 6:14 am by Bill

The Canadiens can’t handle Chris Kreider, which isn’t unusual

1) Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov are rumored to have two fears: spiders and Chris Kreider. Both defensemen were burned scorched by Kreider’s speed through the neutral zone for breaks on goal. One of which, resulted in a goal. Just look at where Kreider is at the start of this play:

Kreider Habs Goal

He’s still in the Rangers zone when the pass was made to Stepan at center ice. Yet, there he is breaking in behind everyone for a breakaway at the end of the play. I feel for Emelin on this one. No defensemen not named Erik Karlsson could have prevented Kreider from breaking in behind them on this play. I’m sure Emelin agrees with Justin Bourne:

When Kreider finally puts all his tools together, okay if he puts all his tools together, he will be a superstar in this league. Every player develops differently and Kreider has had an unusual development curve at the professional level. But good grief, if he ever totally figures it out he’ll be the Rangers best homegrown forward since ???.

A healthy Kreider in this series has already made a world of difference for the Rangers. His return solidified the lineup, opened up space for Rick Nash and Derek Stepan, and has created absolute coverage mayhem in the neutral zone for the Penguins and Canadiens. At the start of the series I mentioned that the Habs speed is going to neutralize the Rangers speed a bit. After game one, it feels like I underestimated just how fast the Rangers actually are.

Martin St. Louis is the right player, at the right time’ – Looking back at the St. Louis trade

Last week Sather pressed the button, he decided to really go for it. It was the right decision. The team can’t sit idly by making insignificant moves and hope a Stanley Cup ring will materialize. Bold moves are required. Acquiring St. Louis is a bold move, for the right player, at the right time, at an acceptable cost. This is much different than past Rangers moves for the wrong player, at the wrong time, at an egregious cost.”

I wrote this a week after the Rangers traded Ryan Callahan for St. Louis. After a rough period of acclimation, St. Louis has made a world of difference in the playoffs. He has 10 points in 15 games and is creeping into the conversation for the Conn Smythe. The Rangers do not make it to the Eastern Conference Final without St. Louis.

With the Rangers advancement to the Conference Final, the Lightning acquire the Rangers 1st round pick this season in the trade. So the final cost of St. Louis was a player with an expiring contract and two first round picks. There will always be a group of Rangers fans who want to build for the future in perpetuity. I have no idea why those fans exist, but they certainly do. At this point, the two first round picks are already worth it. This Rangers team may be the best roster the organization will ever have in front of Henrik Lundqvist. The best opportunity they will ever have to win a Stanley Cup in right now. Two first round picks for that opportunity? Please and thank you.

This is the best roster the Rangers may ever have

Think about it. This summer the Rangers will likely lose Anton Stralman and maybe will lose Brian Boyle, Dominic Moore, and Benoit Pouliot. The Rangers will still have the high end talent on their roster; St. Louis, Nash, Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, and Kreider aren’t going anywhere. But the loss of those guys melts the glue that makes this roster elite. They’re likely not replaceable and the Rangers don’t have anybody ready to make an NHL impact who can fill those roles.

The  Blackhawks struggled after their first Stanley Cup because Stan Bowman doesn’t know how to use a fax machine because they didn’t have the right mix in their supporting cast. The Rangers have that. Their roster mix is damn near perfect. The time is right now to win.

How the heck can the Rangers replace the greatness of Anton Stralman?

I really have no idea how the Rangers replace Stralman. I would imagine that Kevin Klein will move to the second pair and the Rangers will sign a third pair right-handed defenseman who can maybe play power play time. Dan Boyle (hah)? My hope is that NHL general managers don’t understand just how valuable Stralman is and the Rangers can get him signed for under $4M per. In all likelihood, the Rangers can’t afford north of $4m for Stralman, which is exactly what he should be worth.

Rick Nash is poised to define his career in this series

Up to this point, Nash has been a very good regular season player who has never led his team to anything of substance, despite his talents and production. Sure, he has two Olympic gold medals, but he was a role player on both teams. Now, being a role player on Team Canada still makes you a superstar, but you get the point.

Nash was completely unremarkable in the playoffs last year. This year, he has been one of the Rangers best forwards but has been victimized by the Chris Higgins virus. Despite his league leading shot total, he hadn’t scored through 14 games. This weekend, he broke the seal in the 7-2 rout of the Canadiens. The Rangers have made it to the Eastern Conference finals without Nash scoring a single goal. That’s how good this Rangers team is. Their best offensive player didn’t score, yet they advanced to the Conference Final.

If his goal on Saturday opens the floodgates, the Habs are cooked. Nash has an opportunity to erase the perception that he sucks in the playoffs. He has the opportunity to lead the Rangers to the Stanley Cup Final.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>