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Marian Gaborik. $7.5M / year cap hit. 1 Goal, 3 Assists, 4 Points.
Brad Richards. $6.7M / year cap hit. 3 Assists, 3 Points.
Henrik Lundqvist. $6.875M / year cap hit. 2 Goal allowed, .939 Save percentage.

That my friends, is called having your best players be your best players.

Amid rumors that the Rangers are looking to add Rick Nash to the fold(more on that in a minute) the Rangers pulled off their 7th consecutive win against their Winter Classic rival. It was a pretty amazing display of passing put on by the Rangers as they picked apart the Flyers defense with precision passing so much so that you almost have to question the legitimacy of this win. What do I mean? Do I mean the Rangers didn’t deserve to win? Of course not. They were the better team. What I mean is, this game wasn’t as lopsided as the score showed, because the Flyers defense was…well…pretty effing terrible to tell you the truth.

Hard to fault their goaltending when the Rangers had the backdoor play WIDE open all night long. Anisimov scored on one, Callahan scored on one, and Hagelin should have scored on one…didn’t…but Cally scored a few seconds later anyway. That play should NEVER be that open to the other team. Seriously, at any level, the tap in just should not be there. The Rangers take that away better than any team. They get in that lane, and they force you to the outside, the Flyers were pretty much conceding that play. Just awful defending, and poor coaching on Laviolette for not reaming his team about that play that abused his club badly tonight. Also, the reason the Rangers were so effective on the power play? The Flyers conceded entrance into the offensive zone. When the Rangers get set up, their PP usually looks pretty good. When the other team stands them up at the blueline the Rangers have no answer (at least of late). The Flyers apparently didn’t do their homework, because they backed right into their own slot as a group of 4. Clearly someone hasn’t been watching the Rangers before this game.

Give credit to the Rangers though. Their passing was excellent. They saw the weaknesses down low and exploited them big time. Of course when the Rangers had to face a period-long surge by the Flybags in the 2nd, they handled it with aplomb thanks in large part to the guy between the pipes. After all is said and done, the Rangers win again, and are in first place…still….Wow.

So…about this Rick Nash rumor. My thoughts? It’s tempting, but I would pass. Why? Rick Nash is an incredibly talented player. We’d be very fortunate to have him. I would have no problem paying the asking price of Brandon Dubinsky, Kreider, and a first. The problem here, is that Nash makes almost 8 million dollars a year. While the Rangers could conceivably fit that into their budget this season, they could not fit that in, AND re-sign Stepan, McDonagh, and Michael Del Zotto who will collectively be in line for significant pay raises. I would be interested, however, in Columbus’ other star forward, Jeff Carter. While Carters contract carries significant term, his cap hit is nearly a full 3 million dollars less than Nash, making it much easier to try to squeeze in our kids when we need to keep ‘em (Dubi makes 4Mil, the price difference really just means your adding in a million bucks to this years team). Carter is a shooter. He’s the perfect guy to play on the left side with Richards and Callahan. Plus he’d be a 3rd or 4th option on this team, taking some pressure off of him. Remember, even though he’s had a down year, he’s still on pace for 29 goals / 82 games played…this is despite playing on a putrid Columbus team. Here, his line would likely see the oppositions 2nd best defensive pair. Or, if they did see the oppositions best D, that frees up Gaborik and Stepan against the 2nd pair. Either way, smells like fresh meat to me.

I think the Rangers do need to make a trade though. It’s tough to say that about the top team in the East, and really the top team in the NHL when you factor in games played. But I see the Rangers that 1 piece away from being a team that should win a Stanley Cup, rather than what they are now, a team that could win the Stanley Cup.

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