Rangers Tame Wild, Sather on the Prowl
The Rangers have finally done it. For the first time in December, the Rangers have gotten two points at home in regulation. And also for the first time this month, the Rangers played a complete game for all 60 minutes. Benoit Pouliot was particularly noticeable, but for good reasons rather than bad. Rangers announcer Sam Rosen even called it “Pouliot’s best game of the season”. It all culminated with a beautiful goal on the powerplay, tying the game at 1. On a saucer pass from McDonagh, Pouliot one-timed it into the back of the net, and instant replay showed that the puck was about a foot off the ice when it reached Pouliot, making the goal that much more impressive. Pouliot has only scored five goals this season, but most of them have been scored recently, and his most recent healthy scratch seems to have motivated him. His best games usually originate with his work along the boards, so it should be no surprise that he was a forechecking machine, stealing pucks, and lowering the boom on anyone who got in his way.
Hagelin, Zuccarello, and Kreider also scored for the Rangers. The only Wild goal came off a deflection from Jason Pomminville. Talbot had no chance on the play, as John Moore allowed Pominville to crash the net practically unobstructed.
Both J. Moore and Del Zotto played poorly, particularly in their own zone, giving up several pucks to forchecking Wild players. John Moore made the more egregious of the errors, as his mistake ended up putting the Rangers down 1-0 early, but neither played a game they should be proud of.
Meanwhile, the NHL has frozen the rosters for the holidays, but that hasn’t frozen the gossip. ProHockeyTalk reports that Glen Sather is believed to be willing to hear offers on everyone but Nash, Kreider, and Lundqvist. More over, he is not only shopping Del Zotto (which everyone knew), but also the stalwart Dan Girardi. The shopping of Girardi is a surprise only because of the circumstances. The Rangers have had a series of injuries on the blue line recently, but in the midst of all that, Dan Girardi has missed two games for the Rangers since 2007. The veteran shot blocker is a UFA after this season, and will demand a significant raise from his current $3.3 million per year, so if Sather already knows he doesn’t want to re-sign him, then shopping him isn’t a bad move. But it would be downright foolish to trade him before Staal returns.
Del Zotto, on the other hand, should be moved as soon as possible. His perceived value goes down with every mistake-ridden game he plays. Ottawa has reportedly been inquiring about Del Zotto, but they just don’t have the pieces (or the cap space) to make a mutually beneficial deal with the Rangers. Outside of Canada’s Capitol, however, Del Zotto isn’t known to have any suitors, especially since Sather is reportedly asking for a Top 4 defensemen in exchange. Kulikov is known to be on Florida’s trading block, and Jake Gardiner is believed to available in Toronto (for the right price), but neither of those players would likely be acquired for Del Zotto alone. The Rangers future in the trade market isn’t brightened by the fact that according to CapGeek, the Rangers a barely a million dollars under the cap, so players with salaries over $2.5-$3 million will be automatically excluded from trade talks involving Del Zotto, making the unreliable defenseman that much harder to move.
Regardless, the Rangers won’t be making any changes until after the Holidays. They play Toronto tonight at 7 PM EST, and then are off until Friday. The Leafs have been struggling to prevent goals recently, so this might be the perfect time for the Rangers anemic offense to gain some confidence. The puck drops on MSG 2.