Rangers Lose D Marc Staal to Lower-Body Injury

The New York Rangers snapped their three-game losing streak, thumping the Flyers tonight by a 5-1 final, but the victory may have been a Pyrrhic one, as they appear to have lost another key roster player. This time, veteran defenseman Marc Staal:

Though not an analytics darling by any stretch, Staal has been a calming, steady presence this season. In fact, Mike Valvano recently wrote about how his return to reliability has helped to stabilize the Blueshirts’ defense group that despite the Kevin Shattenkirk signing, could best be categorized as “in transition”.

“Marc Staal does not post solid offensive numbers and does not sparkle on spreadsheets. Where he shines is in the subtleties of playing defense and his incessantly underrated athleticism.”

The Rangers have not yet provided any details on the nature or extent of his injury, so it’s probably safe to presume him as day-to-day until they say otherwise.

For now, Staal joins a growing list of injured [key] players including Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes.

Halfway There Report Cards 2017-18: Defense & Goalies Edition

Last Saturday night’s 2-1 shootout victory over the lowly Arizona Coyotes represented a bit more than a hockey game. The game itself was another two points, unnecessarily struggled for, but two more points nonetheless. By the sound of the final whistle, it also officially marked the halfway point for the New York Rangers for this 2017-18 NHL season.

RELATED: Halfway There Report Cards: Forwards Edition

As has become customary, we’re going to take a look at individual player performances, broken down into five grading groups, as of the halfway mark of the season. Those groups break down as follows:

1. “Excelling” — A+ to A-
2. “Succeeding” — B+ to B-
3. “Treading Water” — C- to C+
4. “Drowning/Failing” — D to F
5. “Incomplete”

In the interest of not making things overly complicated, players will be graded in these groups so we don’t get too caught up in the minutia of arguing the differences between an A and an A-minus. Additionally, any player who has played in fewer than ten games, or has been re-assigned to the AHL, Junior hockey, or overseas (despite playing more than ten games, if possible) will receive an Incomplete grade given the lack of games played to adequately judge their play.

So, without further ado, I give you the 2017-18 ClearedForContact Halfway There Report Card — Defense & Goalies Edition:

Halfway There Report Cards 2017-18: Forwards Edition

Last Saturday night’s 2-1 shootout victory over the lowly Arizona Coyotes represented a bit more than a hockey game. The game itself was another two points, unnecessarily struggled for, but two more points nonetheless. By the sound of the final whistle, it also officially marked the halfway point for the New York Rangers for this 2017-18 NHL season.

RELATED: Halfway There Report Cards: Defense & Goalies Edition

As has become customary, we’re going to take a look at individual player performances, broken down into five grading groups, as of the halfway mark of the season. Those groups break down as follows:

1. “Excelling” — A+ to A-
2. “Succeeding” — B+ to B-
3. “Treading Water” — C- to C+
4. “Drowning/Failing” — D to F
5. “Incomplete”

In the interest of not making things overly complicated, players will be graded in these groups so we don’t get too caught up in the minutia of arguing the differences between an A and an A-minus. Additionally, any player who has played in fewer than ten games, or has been re-assigned to the AHL, Junior hockey, or overseas (despite playing more than ten games, if possible) will receive an Incomplete grade given the lack of games played to adequately judge their play.

So, without further ado, I give you the 2017-18 ClearedForContact Halfway There Report Card — Forwards Edition:

Analytics and Eyeballs: Marc Staal is Bringing the D

Marc Staal is a good hockey player.

His performance late last year and in the playoffs shouldn’t undermine the resume he’s built over the last decade or, like the jettisoned Dan Girardi, how valuable he’s been to the Rangers organization as it’s transitioned from expensive also-rans to perennial playoff squad. This year, motivated by a desire to rebuild his legacy and, perhaps, the fear of not having a role locked down, he’s been one of New York’s best defenders.

As Katie Strang mentioned in The Athletic, “He knew that the player that was on the ice against the Senators was not how he wanted to be remembered. He wanted to come back as a leader of this team, so he knew he had to play like one.”

Ahead of Bye Week, Rangers Re-assign Vinni Lettieri to Hartford Wolf Pack

With the Rangers’ beginning their Collective Bargaining Agreement-mandated bye in which they aren’t scheduled to play again until Saturday’s tilt against the New York Islanders, Vinni Lettieri has been assigned to the Wolf Pack.

Rangers Lose Kevin Hayes to Lower-Body Injury

So, the Rangers will probably be without Kevin Hayes for a little while.

Early in the first half of the first period, Hayes was slow to get up after Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt rode him hard into the boards:

Quick Hits: A Good Loser is Still a Loser

Welcome to a new feature (well, an old feature made new again) here at ClearedForContact: Quick Hits. Each Sunday, we’ll cover some of the recent happenings, statistics, and anecdotes from the previous week’s games, as well as touch on important goings-on around the NHL as a whole to cap off the week and to get your Monday mornings started.

If You’re Not First, You’re Last

My initial reaction to Lias Andersson throwing his silver medal into the crowd after Sweden lost to Canada in the World Junior Championship was “wow, that’s awesome”. Hours later, nothing has changed. If anything, I’ve grown even fonder of his attitude after reading he told a Swedish reporter who told him they got his medal back that he didn’t want it. “I don’t want a medal for losing”, he said. Fuck, that’s great!

Say what you will about sportsmanship, but the fact Andersson could be this bothered by losing a tournament like this speaks volumes about his passion for the game, and his passion for winning.

Replacing Kreider Won't Be Easy

Don’t look now, but we’re officially on the precipice of 2018. The Winter Classic is behind us, and before we know it, the February 26th trading deadline will be here. Having lost Chris Kreider for at least two months thanks to a blood clot in his arm, the Rangers’ deadline plans have surely been thrown a proverbial monkey wrench. However, it would be foolish to expect them not to do anything about replacing someone as valuable as Kreider as the deadline horizon narrows.

Despite their tumultuous start to this season, the Rangers have clawed their way back into the playoff picture, having held relatively firm ground in the Eastern Conference wild-card race for the last number of weeks. It’s a position many presumed they’d be competing for before the season started, and one they were likely to remain in with Kreider healthy. His loss doesn’t immediately threaten their security, but with a minimum recovery period of two months to deal with, their long-term playoff stability will probably require a trade to maintain. In fact, if Kreider is out even longer, the value of bringing in another scoring weapon only increases. Namely, because the Rangers are built to be a high-flying, high-scoring team (they’re currently eighth in GF/GP at 3.10) who leave much to be desired defensively and often overly rely on elite goaltending to keep them in many games.

New York Rangers Schedule Wallpaper – January 2018

Happy Winter Classic day, everyone! With January here, it’s time to update your wallpaper accordingly.

Download it via the links below:

Henrik Lundqvist Unveils 2018 Winter Classic Helmet

In about 24 hours the puck will drop on the 2018 Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres from Citi Field. Ahead of the event, Henrik Lundqvist revealed his game day mask on his Instagram:

The mask features the Rangers’ game day logo, some Mets’ branding, and a city skyline — all in Rangers’ colors, of course.