Tonight the Rangers face off against the Winnipeg Jets, a team that is also struggling to find some consistency in this lockout shortened season. Aside from their records, the comparisons pretty much end there between these two teams. The Jets just play a different brand of hockey.
Claude Noel has the Jets playing a passive 1-2-2 forecheck. Their game plan is to sick back in the neutral zone and score off of transition rushes. This really isn’t a team that is going to press the issue with an aggressive forecheck and heavy hitting below the goal line like the Blueshirts. In a sense, the Jets are similar to the Canadiens, but they are not nearly as good at executing their system.
Winnipeg plays a low zone collapse in their own end zone, but they tend to over commit on the puck carrier and often get burned in the process. If there was ever a game for the Rangers to get their offense going, this would be it. The Jets team defense is shoddy and their goaltending is mediocre.
The same can also be said for Winnipeg’s penalty kill. They typically don’t challenge the points at all and are very passive. The Rangers can hopefully exploit this and get some rubber on net from their high zone players. Though if I were Noel, I’d alter that approach.
Although the Jets share an umbrella powerplay strategy with the Rangers, Noel stations his defensemen much higher in the zone, where Torts allows his guys to creep in an extra 5-10 feet. It is not uncommon to see Winnipeg pointmen blast shots from barely over the blueline.
It’s an interesting strategy, as there tends to be a considerable gap between Enstrom/Byfuglien and their slot players. Hopefully the Rangers can capitalize.
2012-2013 Records: Jets (8-9-1), Rangers (8-7-2)
NYR Leading Scorer: Rick Nash (3-9-12)
Jets Leading Scorer: Andrew Ladd (10-7-17)
NYR Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist (14 GP, 2.28 GAA, .918 SV%)
Jets Goaltender: Ondrej Pavelec (16 GP, 2.98 GAA, .898 SV%)
Rangers Lines (unconfirmed):
Opposition Blog: Winnipeg White Out
Broadcast Info: 7:00 pm, MSG
Torts Post Practice Interview from Monday:
Theme here is about confidence. Torts says the team needs to play the right way and gain some confidence in themselves. Most importantly, he talks about how he himself has full confidence in the toughness of the team, which was nice to hear since every other angry tweener with a keyboard seems to think otherwise.