Everyone in NYR Nation must be feeling pretty good this morning.
The Blueshirts took down the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks last night, 3-2, in their building. Was it the team's most complete win of the season? Not by a long shot, considering the dreadful middle period played. But it was arguably the team's best, one that can springboard a team.
Did you also see who potted the game-winner? That would recently named Olympian Carl Hagelin. The nail in the coffin goal last night was Hagelin's 11th of the season, putting the Swede in a tie for the team lead with Mats Zuccarello and Brad Richards. Hags is on pace for 23 goals, which would shatter his career high of 14 set during the 2011-12 season (his rookie campaign). Not to be forgotten, Hagelin also leads New York with four game-winning goals.
So why am I blowing smoke at you with gushing praise about Carl Hagelin today? Because, it looks to me he's finally figured out the offensive part of his game. And I've been somewhat of a detractor of his.
When Hagelin arrived into the NHL, the book on him was being a super fast, pesky checking winger. And that has rung true for the most part. The biggest disappointment in his game through two and a half seasons has been finishing. Hagelin is the team's best puck possession forward while being adept at making plays down low and along the boards off that. It's just been a matter of burying chances.
Last year, we saw signs of Hagelin developing more finish to his game when he completed the lockout-shortened season with 10 goals in 48 games (a pace that would've put him near 20 goals over a typical 82-game season). Enter this season at the halfway mark, and the 25-year-old winger looks to have turned an offensive corner.
I'm guilty of labeling Hagelin as a 'super third-liner,' a player who add offense occasionally while being one of the team's best defensive forwards. But, maybe that's not what Hagelin is. His development over the course of the last calendar year says otherwise even with an offseason shoulder surgery that didn't allow for a proper training camp.
The biggest key for the Rangers to be successful is having their top guys be, essentially, top guys. Has Carl Hagelin evolved into a top player for this team? He's a vital piece to the puzzle. Developing into a consistent offensive threat will change that label.
When his wheels are spinning the whole team has a different look. Sometimes speed can beat physical superiority if the passing is quick and crisp. Adding some finish demands more attention from defenders and with that speed he opens up ice
Any chance the Rangers could be interested in Vanek at the deadline? Or no way they give up what is required to get him to the Fishsticks... especially for a rental
Did a hundred people already say Kreider? ... "putting the Swede in a tie for the team lead with Mats Zuccarello and Brad Richards" ... and Kreider.
I said it all last year to the Zucc detractors as well to the Hags detractors - don't judge on finishing, judge on opportunities. Merely creating the opportunity to score ion the NHL is huge...HUGE...and very few can do it. I'm not talking just about a shot on goal, which is often hard enough. I'm talking about a chance that leaves fans groaning when it isn't a goal. WAY too cheap to say he "should've scored". Just getting that chance as frequently as Zucc did last year and Hags has make them special. Getting to the point where it is just you and the goalie and under 8 feet between you and with a clear shot??? That is something you never want to trade away bc precious few can do that regularly. Eventually the reps will result in finishing. It is just like screaming line drives in baseball that find their way into gloves. They'll find the grass eventually.
@TheNYRBlog Depth. Rangers loaded with it.
Nash is only 2 goals from being tied for the team lead and has played almost 20 less games than most besides hagelin which is still 10 less games,let not kid ourselves Nash is still a force just needs to gather all his bearings and get his legs back, he's still young, he's not 38 years old, and the guy has only been scoring highlight reel goals, eventually soft ones will come. With all the guys canada left off the roster to select Nash, obviously if you have some hockey iq you know he will do great things
He's getting very close. He's got 4 game winning goals on the season, and I think he's found his way onto my "don't trade" list.
if we could get what is expected out of our top guys and keep hags on the third line this team could be a lot better than we are. especially next year. imagine a 3rd line of hags miller and Cally. that could be a really effective high scoring 3rd line! but it all hinges on the top 2 lines doing what they are suppose to.
http://wac.9ebf.edgecastcdn.net/809EBF/ec-origin.boston.barstoolsports.com/files/2013/06/i9TdrpnPo6wqT.gif Thought Joe would enjoy this one
Still not sold on him... he has so much speed but his stick handling and shot are dreadful... The thing is he can work on those things. He needs to start doing that... Also Kreider is tied as well with 11.
@TheNYRBlog I must say I am pleasantly surprised esp after 2nd period play
@TheNYRBlog amazing that 11-15 goals has become the nyr top 6 fwd benchmark. hawks top guys have 3x that.
Nice work James! Here's a great pic of Hagelin after his goal last night: http://usatodaysportsimages.com/preview/7661013
Nice piece! I think a lot of people were expecting Hags to become some top sniper type with his speed. I think he'll definitely be more of an ugly/unexpected goal type of player and if he can give 20-25 of those a year, really what more could we ask!!!
I agree completely. I always felt that he was a 2nd line winger. He's way too fast to be on the bottom six. I'm really happy with him so far this year.
Nice piece James. But leading the team in goals dosent mean much. as you mentioned the other leader above ( Brad Richards). Dying for that buyout already
Redden retired 4 years ago......LMAO
gotta be a write-up forthcoming ... class act
great guy... just bad contract given to him by Sather
We are developing chemistry. We should have at least ONE stud defenseman to keep people honest in front of our net and we will have the pre-requisite grit we need.
I've been outspoken in my bad-mouthing of Nash, but I agree with you. I'm just disappointed that we fans have had to share these struggles with him ; ) certainly rooting for him to get firing on all cylinders
Being only two goals from the team lead is not saying much, as our goal totals are nothing to write home about.... being the leader in goals on the 2013/4 Rangers is actually not a great thing... at least not yet!!!!
@johnAMIRANTESrug If he keeps playing the way he has played for the last half a dozen games, then definitely YES....
I would give him a small raise and 2 years. then I'd remind him that we were the only team that gave him a chance this year.
We need Miller on there too...
Dreadful is a bit extreme.... He is fast, skilled, but lacks consistency... I would not characterize his stick handling as "dreadful" and honestly, he has a very good shot.
What???? Vanek is an awesome player around the net. Similiar to Moulson but with more skill. Having said that I would NOT trade any key pieces for a rental. Heck I would not even trade mid level pieces for a rental player this year. If the Fishsticks can get him under contract then yes I would consider it
i don't think he has much of a shot either. most of his highlight goals are moves right up to the net and it's more of an extension of his stickhandling than a shot that gets past the goalies.
oh, i was talking about Nash. his shot is not his best strength
I just remember one goal Hagelin had... a one time slap shot.... can't even remember who it was against, but it just blew by the goalie.... tremendous shot...