The New York Rangers blew another lead on Saturday, and it cost them the game. Marc Staal and Nick Holden must be reevaluated going forward.
Marc Staal needs some time on the bench. Nick Holden could use some time off, too. The New York Rangers lost game five after leading with less than two minutes to go in the third period. Staal was on the ice for the tying goal.
Staal and Holden have proven to be the anchors on the Rangers defense. Their lack of ability to suppress shots and get out of their own end have cost goals, leads, and games.
Offensive output has never been Staal’s strength. He has zero points in the 2017 playoffs. His plus minus is surprisingly +1, but that does not tell the entire story. Staal has bled shots and scoring opportunities all postseason long, giving up 35 scoring chances against in five games against Ottawa.
Holden is more offensively gifted than Staal. He has three points in 10 games in the 2017 playoffs. His ability to create offense cannot forgive his defensive errors, however. Holden is at -3 for +/-, and Much like Staal, Holden bleeds shots and opportunities. He has been on the ice for 37 chances against in the Ottawa series.
Holden has been held out for a game in the playoffs already this year, unlike Staal. He sat out game three against Montreal after having a bad start to the series. Much like the first two games of the Montreal series, Holden has been struggling.
Staal has yet to be a healthy scratch in the 2017 Playoffs. The surprising part of Staal not sitting out these playoffs is that he has been demonstrably worse than any other defenseman besides Holden. Staal has spent much of the series pinned in the Rangers zone, where he does his worst work for the Rangers.
Who Should Sit?
Staal or Holden have to sit for game six, and beyond, for the Rangers to win. Who’s the better option to sit, though?
If Staal sits for game six, the Rangers lose a valuable piece of their penalty kill, as well as a veteran presence in the locker room. Staal has played 103 career playoff games, which is the third most on the Rangers.
If Holden sits for game six, the Rangers don’t lose much. Holden has been a valuable offensive asset on the backend, providing for explosive breakaways and scoring chances. He has also been inconsistent, however. In his own zone, Holden is more of a liability than Staal is.
Whoever sits for the Rangers in game six will more than likely be replaced by Kevin Klein or Steven Kampfer, but Adam Clendening is the best option.
Klein filled in for Holden when he sat during the series against Montreal, and held his own. He played about 18 minutes, and added an assist. Before being benched in favor of Brendan Smith, Klein had three goals and 11 assists in 60 games played over the regular season.
Newly resigned Steven Kampfer is another option for the Rangers on defense. Kampfer only played 11 games in the regular season, posting a goal and an assist. He has yet to play in the playoffs in his career.
Adam Clendening is the best option for the Rangers, however. Clendening has seen limited action this season. He had two goals and nine assists over 31 games, but also contributed to the power play. Clendening brings the added spark the Rangers need to win the series with his ability to quarterback the power play and contribute offensively.
Marc Staal and Nick Holden are glaring issues on the Rangers defense, and one of them has to sit for the Rangers to win. With Alain Vigneault already cutting time for the defensive pair, Steven Kampfer, Kevin Klein, or Adam Clendening can easily replace either Staal or Holden on the back end.