1. With the trade deadline coming up on Wednesday, the Rangers are among the teams who have to do some deep thinking between now and then. Ergo: To Trade Or Not To Trade?
2. The Maven’s point is simple; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Frankly, I like the roster as it stands right now. At playoff time, it ranks with the very best — Washington, Pittsburgh and Minnesota. However, others disagree.
3. The “Fix It” camp argues that the Blueshirts need help on defense. That GM Jeff Gorton would be better served by dealing for at least one right-handed backliner. Specifically, the Blues’ Kevin Shattenkirk of New Rochelle.
4. Granted that getting Shattenkirk would solve any power-play problems — assuming that there are any, and I don’t assume that — the payback to St. Louis would have to be huge with a capital H. My advice; don’t do it.
5. Henrik Lundqvist‘s goaltending battle with Toronto’s suddenly sensational Frederik Andersen reminded me of two heavyweights slugging it out for a boxing title.
6. It was a draw throughout one of the most heart-throbbing overtimes in memory. But King Henrik got the decision by winning the shootout.
7. The John Tavares–Josh Bailey–Anders Lee line has elevated its status from the “Good” to “Excellent” level. What the Islanders still require in the club’s playoff drive is more consistency from the second unit.
10. Don’t ask me what — if anything — Garth Snow plans doing heading up to the Trade Deadline because I’m not privy to his thoughts. But, based on past performances, we should not be surprised if a deal or two are cut.
11. Funny thing about Anthony Beauvillier‘s emergence as a key contributor is that it comes as such a surprise. In our sport’s bible, The Hockey News, the hustling left wing was overlooked last October.
12. Rating the Islanders “Top Ten Prospects,” Beauvillier was relegated to the seventh position. THN’s comment: “Beauvillier is a leader and offensive catalyst but needs to work on defensive consistency.”
15. Getting back to The Hockey News‘ “Future Watch,” interestingly, New Jersey’s top rookie forward — in my book, at least — is Miles Wood. Yet ex-NHLer Randy Wood’s son was placed last (10th) on THN’s Top 10 Devils Prospects.
16. The THN word on Wood last October was that he “Plays a fast, aggressive style.” Well, the kid can score, fight and become a star at the rate he’s growing with the club.
18. Good for the Rangers high command and its decision to honor alumnus and Hall of Famer Jean Ratelle. Gentleman Jean’s Number 19 will be retired next season.
19. What few fans realize is that Ratelle was a total bust early in his Blueshirts career — unlike his buddy, instant star Rod Gilbert. At one point, Ratelle was so disappointing, the Rangers demoted him to their American Hockey League farm club in Baltimore.
20. But the minor league stint turned out to be the perfect prescription. After returning, Jean got a better feel of the NHL and, of course, the rest was happy history; until he was dealt to Boston in the controversial trade that brought Phil Esposito to Seventh Avenue.
21. Speaking of banner-raisings, how about Frank Boucher and Bill Cook? Both Hall of Famers were top players on the 1928 and 1933 Cup-Winning Rangers. Boucher arguably ranks as THE Rangers all-time greatest center while Cook was likewise at right wing.
22. The Maven says this with all deference to right wings such as Gilbert and Andy Bathgate as well as a center like Ratelle. Boucher and Cook were lifetime Rangers with “Boosh” coaching the Blueshirts to their 1940 Stanley Cup.
23. You have to like the manner in which Brady Skjei has developed in his rookie season. He won’t win the Calder Memorial Trophy, but who cares? Number 76 had an impressive week shutting down the likes of Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Max Pacioretty and Auston Matthews. Can’t get much better than that!
24. To say that Saturday night’s Rangers at Devils clash at The Rock is THE most important game of 2016-17 for the Garden Staters would not be an exaggeration. A win for John Hynes‘ sextet to stay alive in the playoff hunt is a virtual must.
25. I asked keen Islanders-watcher Robert Taub of Freeport, Long Island what makes Doug Weight a good coach and his reply makes sense: “He instills confidence in his players. Ryan Strome is a good example. Plus, Weight doesn’t mess around with his lines and he’s very steady in how he handles the team whether they win or lose.”
26. The Hockey News has this take on the Isles general staff heading toward Trade Deadline Day: “Whichever course is chosen, it must not hurt their current playoff push.”
27. When it comes to Cap Space, Snow is in a good spot. The contracts of Gionta and the underrated defender Dennis Seidenberg come off the books this off-season.
28. I’d love to see the NHL strike a trophy for BEST PLAYERS UNDER 5-8. Top candidates would be Mats Zuccarello and Johnny Gaudreau.
29. Speaking of retired numbers, Lou Lamoriello was honored by Providence College, his alma mater. Larrupin’ Lou was an all-around athlete — especially baseball — before taking over as Friars’ athletic boss. From there he moved on to New Jersey and created three Stanley Cup teams.
30. So, which teams represent the biggest threats to the Islanders playoff quest? The surging — with a new coach — Bruins; the crazy-fast Leafs; and the Jaromir Jagr-led Panthers.