Quick Hits: Priming the Pump (and Dump)

Phil Kocher
@ me

Phil Kocher

Managing Editor at Cleared for Contact
I believe in Nate Silver, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Christopher Hitchens, and hockey analytics.
Blogging between diaper changes.
Phil Kocher
@ me

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.

Righteous Indignation

Brendan Smith has every right to be seething at the NHL, or more specifically the Department of Player Safety, in the wake of being the victim of a vicious headshot from Los Angeles Kings forward Kyle Clifford this past week.

“I’m still shocked that nothing has happened,” Smith told The [New York] Post. “I think those kind of hits are what we’re trying to get out of the game. That’s what we’ve been harping on. So I don’t understand what’s going on at the moment. To me it’s a clear target of the head.”

This type of inaction is a prime example of why the CBA’s mandate that an injury on the play heavily factors into the decision to apply supplemental discipline or not, and it needs to be collectively bargained out at the next negotiations. The practice is one that may have made some sense on paper when it was agreed to, but has proven impractical, if not utterly backwards, in reality – as the Clifford-Smith collision proves. After all, would we be having this conversation had Smith been concussed on the play? Or instead would we be debating the length of Clifford’s suspension?

If the NHL wants these types of headshots out of the game, then do so by legislating heavily against them, regardless of whether the victim gets up off the ice right away or not.

Crash Corsi

Yeah, we know, it doesn’t tell the whole story. But when you’re sharing the kind of company in shot share (a user-friendlier term for corsi) that the Rangers are this season, is it any wonder finding believers in their Cup chances is so difficult?

And before you suggest there’s no correlation between shooting attempts and playoff success, think again:

Vaulting Value

TSN’s Bob McKenzie has made his rounds earlier this week—from Insider Trading to a between periods NBCSN report during the Leafs/Hawks game Wednesday night—to reiterate that if and when the Rangers opt to deal pending UFAs Michael Grabner and Rick Nash, the market will be ready, willing, and able to pay a premium. McKenzie noted that should Nash, in particular, be made available as a rental, he and Buffalo’s Evander Kane would be seen as the cream of the deadline crop. That certainly bodes well for the Rangers’ chances of landing a first-round pick for him, if not more. Six goals in his last five games isn’t depreciating his value any, either.

Blowing it All Up?

No doubt, the prospect of moving on from fan-adored, tenured veterans like Mats Zuccarello and Ryan McDonagh would represent the kind of shock and awe the Rangers haven’t experienced since Brian Leetch was sent packing all those years ago. But lost in the commotion of what those deals might look like is a bigger question on whether or not “blowing it all up” applies to the coaching staff, as well?

The Power of Personality

Look, Cody McLeod is not a very good hockey player. We know this. We’ve seen the HERO charts, and we can read the boxcars. But I couldn’t help but laugh at Brett Crygalis’ story from early Friday morning in which he chronicled a humorous tale involving the 33-year old pugilist that dates back more than a calendar year:

“He stood in front of my bench and said, ‘Hey coach, are you looking for a tough fourth-liner?’ ” Vigneault relayed Thursday morning, the day his Rangers claimed McLeod off waivers from the Predators. “So it took me a year to sort it out.”

Seriously, how can you read that and not chuckle?

The Cult of Personality

Speaking of impactful personas, if you haven’t gotten a chance to watch P.K. Subban’s appearance on The Daily Show this week, take a moment. It’s worth every minute of your time. If you actively choose not to, that’s fine, too. Let’s just also preemptively agree that the next time someone suggests Subban should be the face of the league, you’ll keep quiet, yeah?

By the Numbers

  • With six goals in his last seven games, Rick Nash sure is pumping up his trade value of late. The timing couldn’t be better.
  • Pavel Buchnevich’s quiet domination—to the tune of six points in his last seven games—now has him tied for second on the team in scoring with 32 points.
  • It’s great to see the pucks finally going in for captain Ryan McDonagh, too. Not only did he tally two against Sharks on Thursday night, but he’s got five points in his last six contests. According to @EliasSports, he is the first Rangers defenseman who has tallied two goals in a span of 72 or fewer seconds since James Patrick on Mar. 25, 1986.
  • Lastly, not that it should surprise anyone, but when is the last time a team claimed a player who instantly became the team-leader in PIMs (72) like the Rangers did this week with Cody McLeod?

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