Credit AV: Glass and Kampfer have sparked the Rangers
It was the morning after another listless loss at home against a conference opponent that Alain Vigneault finally made the call. The head coach came to the realization his team wasn’t going to be able to finesse their way out of this recent funk.
The coach was tired of watching his bread and butter goaltender bumped and thumped. He was done watching his player’s take a non-confrontational approach to aggression. Finally, he was done watching Adam Clendening run around clueless in his own zone.
“I spoke to Gorts early this morning before he left for the GM meetings,” AV told reporters on Monday. “Tanner has been playing hard, playing well. We saw Kampf last week and it’s giving us as coaches a few more players to make some decisions, that is what we are going to do.”
When the coach was asked why he explained, “Teams are playing hard and tight, not a lot of room and you have to compete and battle hard and win puck battles, you need to win your share, I do think that in the last couple of games, in those puck battle situations we could have been better.”*
The result, two games in which the Rangers came out of the gate strong. Two games where the Rangers were the aggressors and setting the tone. Two games that resulted into wins.
Credit where credit is due, Alain Vigneault recognized the issue and made what a large portion of this fan base considered a wrong move. By taking out Matt Puempel and Adam Clendening, the new age and pro stats crowd felt the Rangers got worse.
Well thank the good Lord that NHL coaches and GM’s to make decision based on spreadsheets alone.
Simple Is Better
The secret to the success of both call ups is easy to see…they play the game simple. Kampfer has played a total of 22:40 minutes (all even strength) and has racked up some solid numbers in this recent stint. In his 35 shifts, he has 2 shots on goal, 3 blocked shots, 4 hits, 1 takeaway, and most importantly an assist. He’s done this by making the simple play in his zone, the safe play in the offensive zone, and supporting his partner.
Speaking of Kampfer’s partner, his simple defense first style has allowed Brady Skjei a little more free reign to stretch his offensive wings. Of course it is a really small sample size, but in 2 games with Kampfer as his primary partner, Skjei has fired off 7 shots on goal. In the previous 9 games with Clendening he had only 11. It may seem silly and inconsequential, but Skjei just looks more comfortable with a partner like Kampfer. Again, it’s early but the duo looks like they have some chemistry and a balance.
As for Glass, what more could you ask for? He set a physical tone on his first shift of the year. He answered the bell and threw punches on his second shift. This morning, he now has a goal, assist and the Broadway Hat added to his credit. All that, plus 4 hits in only 17:09 of ice time. Not bad.
How did he do it? By playing with intangibles like heart, grit, and being fearless. None of those things can be measured and that drives the stats crowd crazy. He plays a north/south game. Forechecks hard, goes to the net, and doesn’t anything fancy. It’s working, it’s effective, and he needs to play until it doesn’t or the opponent doesn’t call for it.
Another immeasurable intangible is what he does for the room. His teammates love him and his play motivates them. The joy on their faces when he scored and the happiness they felt giving him the Broadway Hat does not and will never show on a stats sheet.
Good! Because in a world where everything is over analyzed…it’s nice to have something with an aura of mystery to it.
These two will keep playing but once the Rangers are at full health, it is fairly certain they will be in the press box. Still, looking forward you have to assume that Kampfer has replaced Clendening on the depth chart. When Girardi is healthy, Kampfer should be the 7th defenseman and spot start for him and Staal down the stretch.
When and if (big if) Kevin Klein returns, that’s where it will get intriguing. Should Klein be healthy he becomes the 7th d-man by default. He would then need a few spot starts so as not to be rusty should the Rangers need him in the post-season.
As far as Glass, let him play ahead of guys like Puempel and Brandon Pirri. When Michael Grabner returns, Pirri needs to come out. Now when Jesper Fast is healthy, Glass should sit in favor of a the deeper more skilled lineup.
Then AV can use Glass for spot starts and against the right opponents. There are 2 games in April I’d like to see him in for sure. April 2 against Philly and April 5th versus the Caps. I’d love to have Glass in the lineup to send those teams a message that NY isn’t the home of the Softshirts anymore.