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NHL coach on Rangers’ Staal: “I haven’t seen signs he’s getting better”

Apr 3, 2012, 2:53 PM EDT

Marc Staal Getty Images

Over at ESPN, Craig Custance continued his preview series of playoff-bound teams with an interesting piece on the New York Rangers — specifically, the analysis of defenseman Marc Staal.

From ESPN (Insider):

Depth on defense is a bit of a concern for the Rangers, and there’s a big difference if Staal is playing like a bottom-pair defenseman rather than a guy capable of playing on the top pair. “He’s gone, for me, from a Norris trophy candidate to a guy playing in the five- or six-hole, and he looks like it,” one coach said. “If he can get anywhere near that level, it’d change things … but I haven’t seen signs he’s getting better.”

Our scout isn’t quite as concerned. “He’s not great but certainly plays well within reason. He’s better than most at operating at 80 percent,” he said. “I think he’ll be able to take his game to a very good level. I’m not so much worried about him as I would be injuries [on defense] in general.”

By the numbers, Staal’s a fourth defenseman rather than a fifth/sixth — he’s fourth amongst all Rangers blueliners in time on ice per game (19:44), shifts per game (23.5) and shorthanded minutes per game (1:37).

Regardless, it’s a far cry from his role of last season, when he averaged over 25 minutes a game in the regular season before getting bumped to 28:01 per night in a five-game playoff loss to the Capitals.

As for this year, Staal missed the first 36 games dealing with the effects of a concussion suffered last February. While he has seen more ice time recently — there were three games in March where Staal played over 24 minutes — one wonders if he’s still out of sorts after missing what amounted to half the regular season.

One final note: Come playoff time, it’ll be interesting to see if Tortorella ever goes back to last year’s dynamic shutdown pairing of Staal and Dan Girardi. The two were often used to neutralize the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby but, with Girardi averaging over 26 minutes and night and now flourishing with partner Ryan McDonagh, it would be hard for Staal to get back in that mix.

  1. bcjim - Apr 3, 2012 at 3:50 PM

    Rags fans holding vigils everywhere praying Buffalo gets the 8 seed.

  2. iinformeduthusly - Apr 3, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Staal was never a top 20 dman
    Norris candidate?
    What a joke

    • iinformeduthusly - Apr 3, 2012 at 4:56 PM

      8 thumbs down but not a single argument attempted at suggesting I am wrong.

      “Derp Ima Rangers fan so I must be a complete and clueless homer about all my players”

      Staal isn’t even a top 3 on his own team

      Not a single argument even attempted because there is no argument

      So I will repeat
      Norris Canidate?
      What
      a
      Joke

      • iinformeduthusly - Apr 3, 2012 at 4:57 PM

        Never has been
        Never will be

        /thread

    • bmscalise - Apr 3, 2012 at 5:29 PM

      I’m a Pens fan, not a Rangers fan, and while I wouldn’t have claimed Norris-caliber, I would have put him in the top tier of d-men last year. He was at last years All Star Game and deserved to be there. And Canada didn’t bring him to tryout for the Olympics because he was a middle-of-road player. Until that concussion, he was a great shut-down d-man with some decent offensive upside.

      • iinformeduthusly - Apr 3, 2012 at 5:53 PM

        1 Visnovsky
        2 Byfuglien
        3 Weber
        4 Letang
        5 Chara
        6 Lidstrom
        7 Seabrook
        8 Yandle
        9 Ehrhoff
        10 Boyle
        11 Wisnieski
        12 Giordano
        13 Gologoski
        14 Keith
        15 Burns
        16 Liles
        17 Enstrom
        18 Pietrangelo
        19 Doughty
        20 Girardi
        21 Timonen
        22 Seidenberg
        23 Phaneuf
        24 Myers
        25 Karlsson
        26 Robidas
        27 Suter

        ^^^ Better D men in 2011 than Staal

        Girardi racked up 110 shots, 195 hits and blocked 236 shots while Staal managed 116, 140, 109. Not even the best on his team, but somehow top 20 or Norris worthy?

        Riiiiiiiiiight, like I said, there is no argument

      • amonte13 - Apr 3, 2012 at 9:35 PM

        That’s your list? How clueless are you? Byfuglien and Enstrom were better than Staal last year? Liles? So awesome he’s was traded for a 2nd rounder? Myers? He was AWFUL last year. Karlsson was HORRIBLE last year, first thing his new coach told him when he showed up. I’ll stop now so I don’t embarrass you anymore.
        The coach is right on Staal this year, he definitely hasn’t been anywhere close to the guy he was last year.

  3. biffnasty - Apr 3, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    Stall was money before he took that cheap shot from his brother. He slowly getting back his groove and enough to bring NY to the stanley cup

  4. jkay1818 - Apr 3, 2012 at 5:41 PM

    1. informedthusly- relax, you’re acting weird.
    2. how can you give arguments for a norris trophy? you make it like we should give examples. But, he was definitely a norris candidate before the concussion. He logged minutes, one of the league leaders in hits and blocks. Faces every teams top line and is as shut down as you can get.
    I have to disagree with that ESPN post. Granted when Staal came back everyone held their breath when he got hit, or came across the ice. He is slowly working his way back, but if you watch the games and listen to commentary of guys like micheletti, mcguire, eddie O, he is starting to play a much better game and leaving the injury behind him. There were times this month he has been excellent. He might need a full yr before he has his complete game back but as one scout said, him at 80% is just as good as most. Also, being top 4 pairing and 3 guys ahead of him on that team isnt really a knock. Del zotto, girardi and mcdonagh are having fantastic seasons and once mcdonagh matures he will more than likely have a few norris trophies. Girardi this yr alone will finish in the norris voting.

    • iinformeduthusly - Apr 3, 2012 at 5:58 PM

      No he wasn’t

      Ranger homer who has no clue or objectively

      Nothing else needs to be said, the rest of the hockey world outside of NY is laughing at the idea

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