How Bold is Too Bold to Fix the Rangers' D?

In a tweet on Wednesday morning, Larry Brooks prefaced his New York Post column, setting the stage to address the New York Rangers’ defense:

No, we didn’t all think that, Larry.

Not all of us, anyway. There’s a faction of us who recognized the fact that Kevin Shattenkirk, for all he brings to the power play, has never been successful as a top-pair defenseman and wasn’t necessarily going to be the answer on the right side. Even before the season began, there was no clear indication of who should partner with Ryan McDonagh to stymie top lines and that’s gotten worse as everyone except Marc Staal, interestingly enough, has regressed.

A Year and a Day

A year ago yesterday Phil Kocher published the first article on a new blog created by a few members of his Blueshirt’s Brotherhood forum. We’ll get back to that post in a moment because it deserves some ridicule, but first some backstory. I had been on Phil for a while to get a blog going. The forum was a great place to discuss the New York Rangers, but a handful of us would write up long-form initial posts in threads that didn’t really fit in with the more organic discussion-based nature of a forum. Typical forum posts were driven by a more singular idea, often pulled out from articles from those on the Rangers’ beat, opinion pieces from established media outlets or from bloggers.

Phil was not having it. He did a lot of work managing the forum along with his team of moderators and the prospect of creating a new venture was daunting. Creating synergy with the blog was going to be an issue as was the time commitment needed to get something new off the ground. Eventually, I informed him I was moving forward and I would let the chips fall where they might. He, along with a couple others such as John Gaffney and Ray Sarlo, jumped on board and Cleared for Contact was born.

New York Rangers' schedule wallpaper, November 2017

New York Rangers Schedule Wallpaper – November 2017

November is here – time to update your wallpaper accordingly!

Download it via the links below:

Rangers Must Find Fire Through Trade

A 3-7-2 record is bad enough, but even bad teams never want to be kicked when they are down, and few things hurt more than a shot to the ribs when you’re already reeling. Yet here we are, talking about a poorly performing team’s compete level just 12 games into a season that they are quickly losing ground in.

The Rangers are drowning among the unrelenting waves of mediocrity, like a swimmer caught in a riptide, only ever managing to escape long enough to catch a panicked breath of air before getting pounded by the next crash of water. Losing games isn’t their only problem, though. After Saturday night’s 5-4 loss to the Montréal Canadiens, so too, apparently, is their energy level – which is another way of saying this group, at times, lacks the proper motivation to play.

As the spiral worsens, if these Rangers won’t (or perhaps can’t) bring the kind of energy required to adequately compete in games that will only increase in importance as the year progresses, then it’s on general manager Jeff Gorton to find someone who will.

Rangers Must Use the Nuclear Option on Lundqvist

That feeling you get when you’re about to write an article that’s going to turn the New York Rangers’ fans against you…

That writing has been on the wall for the past two seasons. Rangers’ captain Ryan McDonagh is simply not going to have a chance to call Henrik Lundqvist over to where Gary Bettman stands smirking to let the latest savior of the Rangers’ franchise be the first player since 1994 to skate around the ice with the Stanley Cup hoisted over his head. If Lundqvist remains with the Rangers to finish his elite career, it will likely be having never won the ultimate prize in hockey.

No Simple Solutions for the Rangers

Wait until Thanksgiving. That is typically the rule of thumb for evaluating a team as it gives them 20 to 25 games to find themselves, sort out any problems, and set a course for the rest of the season. However, when you’re the New York Rangers, a team that year-after-year expects to not only make the playoffs but also to challenge for the Stanley Cup, you don’t get as much leeway – especially when you just signed the summer’s biggest free agent. So let’s just say we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving a little early this year.

At the time of this writing, the Rangers are in 28th place, sitting on a 2-6-2 record. They’ve got themselves a pitiful minus-11 goal differential due to the fact they’ve given up 3.50 goals per game (23rd) and they’ve only scored 2.50 goals per game (27th). Oh, they’ve also killed 77.8% of their penalties (22nd). But there’s not much to worry about because there’s plenty of time left in the season, right?! Well…

In other words, the Rangers need to play at the level they did last season in order to just barely make it into the playoffs, assuming playoff point projections are correct. It doesn’t sound wholly unreasonable to think that can happen. But, what about the first 10 games makes you believe the Rangers can “flip the switch” and play at a 103-point pace rather than the 25-point pace they’ve been playing at?

Rangers Recall Boo Nieves from Wolf Pack

After waiving Adam Cracknell earlier today, the New York Rangers have officially recalled Boo Nieves from the Hartford Wolfpack:

NYR have assigned Tony DeAngelo to Hartford

After first waiving Adam Cracknell and now demoting Tony DeAngelo to Hartford, change has come to the New York Rangers roster.

The question is, who will be added in their place? Whether that is an imminent trade or recalls from Hartford, we will have to wait and see. DeAngelo had found himself a healthy scratch or as the team’s 7th defender on nights where they carried seven defensemen. He was being used on the powerplay, but seeing very little ice time in the games that he played. While flashes of his abilities were evident, so too were his defensive deficiencies.

Rangers Place F Adam Cracknell on Waivers

Adam Cracknell’s time as a New York Ranger appears to be coming to a rapid close. As Elliotte Friedman broke shortly after noon today, the veteran forward has been placed on waivers.

2-6-2 — The Only NYR Stat That Matters at the Moment

There will only be one stat in this article. That stat is 2-6-2, the New York Rangers’ record as of their loss last night against the San Jose Sharks. Head Coach Alain Vigneault is no longer on the hot seat, the flames of discontent have left nothing of his chair atop the team but a few smoldering embers. He is standing next to the ruins of the 2017/18 Rangers’ season with no line combination change, player benching or ability to revise the system that will have any effect.