- NOT MUCH ADO ABOUT THE KING: I’m surprised that such a fuss is made when Alain Vigneault chooses to rest Henrik Lundqvist for a few games. It’s what The Maven calls hyper-over-reaction.
- A.V. PLANNED WELL: After all, the Rangers‘ coach told newsmen at training camp that he planned to play Antti Raanta more and His Majesty just a bit less during the regular season. This was not a closely guarded secret.
- A POINT WELL TAKEN: A.V.’s point was — and is — that Henny’s respites are designed to keep him fresh for playoff time. You don’t need analytics to comprehend that bit of logic.
- ANOTHER GORTON GEM: Rangers GM Jeff Gorton continues to astonish me with the gems he unearths. The latest is Matt Puempel who — until he arrived on Seventh Avenue — ranked somewhere in the NHL tapestry as The Unsung among the Really Unsung.
Bill Pidto, Steve Valiquette and Ron Duguay break down Matt Puempel's goal for the Rangers against the Penguins.
- STEEL WOOD: Speaking of finds, how about Devils GM Ray Shero‘s catch-of-the-month, Miles Wood. Randy Wood’s speed merchant son bolted college — against mucho advice — because he believed he was ready for the Bigs.
- THE KID KNEW BETTER: Ask any Rangers fan who watched Woody zip over Garden ice last Sunday night and he or she will confirm that this Wood lad can skate as fast as Michael Grabner. You all know how fast that is!
- DAN DELIVERS: It’s always refreshing — and worth bragging about — when a local boy makes good in hockey whether he’s playing or, in this case, writing about it. Exhibit A is Dan Friedman’s recent Sports Illustrated piece on Long Island as a hotbed for developing young players. Good work, Danny boy!
- PROTECT STARS: David Staples of the Edmonton Journal did a terrific column about how stars such as Connor McDavid fail to get enough protection from the referees. That immediately reminded me of the abuse John Tavares — among other superstars — absorbs without the zebras calling obvious penalties.
- TWO REFS SHOULD KNOW: The dual-ref system was created to allow the zebras to see more than before. Yet the likes of Rick Nash, Michael Cammalleri and other stars continue to be fouled with impunity. It’s time for Bettman, Inc. to check out this nasty oversight.
- STOP THE ROAMIN’, GOALIES: There are no statistics to back up my upcoming claim. And I know — for sure — that The Maven is in the minority. But I’m convinced that goaltenders could do their jobs as well — or better — if they simply remained in the crease.
- BRODEUR, D.P. EXCEPTIONS: Sure, Marty Brodeur and Rick DiPietro were superb at launching attacks with well-directed passes. They, however, were the few goalies blessed with radar on their sticks.
- BACK TO THE PAST: My point is that when hockey was developed, goaltenders were meant to stay in their crease and play their game there. They weren’t supposed to be defensemen or forwards. As many times as a netminder plays the puck, he’s apt to get into trouble as he would be helping his team.
- SOME RAIN MUST FALL: The routing Pittsburgh put on the Blueshirts was telling, to be sure. But no need to get all huffy-jiffy about it. This should be a defeat from which Vigneault can learn and apply if and when the Pens and Rangers meet in the playoffs.
- JERSEY BOUNCE: When the Devils took the Rangers to overtime and a shootout last Sunday, they played one of their best games of the campaign. The setback Tuesday against the Predators at The Rock is almost inexplicable except for the two-word explanation: “That’s Hockey!”
- REVIVAL: What matters now in Devils Country is how well coach John Hynes can get his club to reverse what has become a disturbing trend. A revival would be a wonderful Christmas present for New Jersey fans.
John Hynes holds his post-game press conference after the Devils' 5-1 loss to the Predators.
- REUNION: I’m tickled that Capuano reunited his defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Dennis Seidenberg. The pair played together as Bruins and work well as a unit.
- THE DREADED THIRD: Analytics aside, The Maven has a theory about the Islanders‘ final-period fold-ups. For reasons that could be psychological — or whatever — Jack Capuano‘s skaters appear to suddenly go on the defensive for the final 20 minutes.
Jack Capuano praises the play of Anders Lee and talks about the strong play of Thomas Greiss in the Islanders' 4-2 win over the Bruins.
- A SOLUTION — MAYBE: Cappy, himself, has told his guys to continue attacking, forechecking and hustling hard at the other half of the ice. Maybe each Islander needs to hypnotize himself into thinking forecheck-forecheck-forecheck and get-to-the-puck first. Keep the other team off-balance. Not the other way around.
- GOOD WISHES TO IRA: One of the hockey — and jazz — world’s finest authors, Ira Gitler, has been a patient at the Mary Manning Home on York Avenue in Manhattan. I’m sure he’d like to hear from teammates and fans as well. Ira has followed the Rangers since before their 1940 Cup win. He played for and managed Gitler’s Gorillas and is a legend in Beer League hockey circles. Send him good wishes; it would certainly be a good deed for the holidays.
- GIONTA’S ROAD TO THE ISLES: During a training camp exhibition game I was convinced that Stevie Gionta would make the Islanders’ varsity. He was playing an aggressive offensive game when suddenly injury struck; he was sidelined and his dream burst before 2016-17 began. It was a long recovery and now he’s back. I believe that he’ll be a help on the PK. Hope so for everyone’s sake.
MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HANUKAH AND A HAPPY HEALTHY NEW YEAR TO ALL IN THE HOCKEY WORLD.