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After a tough loss on Saturday against the Devils, the Rangers had the Washington Capitals, a team that Henrik Lundqvist has absolutely owned over the past three meetings. As long as they put forth a solid effort, they should have at least come out with a point. But instead they forgot to show up, and allowed the Caps to walk all over them in their own building. After a scoreless first, the Rangers allowed the Caps to jump out to a 3-0 lead without much fight. After that, the Caps did a good job collapsing around the slot and protecting the house.
Henrik Lundqvist played a solid game last night, but the team in front of him made rookie Phillipp Grubauer look like Patrick Roy. There aren’t many positives for this game, and I’m going to avoid harping on negatives. But I will say this: The New York Rangers succeed as a team and they fail as a team.
On to the goals:
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AP Photo/Alex Brandon
After a disappointing overtime loss against New Jersey, the Capitals are in town looking to pad their lead on the #2 spot in the Metropolitan Division. The Caps have 32 points to the Rangers 31, but have a game in hand. Naturally, a win tonight would go a long way to giving the Rangers some breathing room in the division. Plus a win tonight would give them two wins against Washington, which is incredibly important for tiebreakers later in the season.
On the ice, Adam Oates runs a hybrid 1-2-2/2-1-2 forecheck. They generally send one man in, but if the chances at a turnover are high, they will send the second and third man in. They are fairly aggressive when it comes to defensive zone schemes, playing an overload style and collapsing down when the puck is down low. Their powerplay strategy is a 1-3-1, and their penalty kill formation is an aggressive box.
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So my DVR did not record the game yesterday. Apparently I set it to record the YES network by accident, so there won’t be a goal breakdown for last night’s game. My apologies for that.
Some quick thoughts based on watching the highlights:
- Don’t like how they blew a 2-0 lead, but they finally showed some urgency when Kreider tied it up late on the powerplay.
- The Devils are one of the better puck possession teams in the league, and it showed. They had a shot attempt lead throughout regulation. At 5v5, they wound up with a 51.1%-48.9% advantage. At 5v5 close, it was a 50/50 split.
- On the OT winner, it looks like Hank didn’t see it right away, and had a late reaction. That’s usually a shot he stops if he sees it the whole way. He’s probably upset with himself on that.
- Both goalies seemed to have rebound control issues last night. Four goals were scored off rebounds.
- Nice to see both Zuccarello and Kreider continuing to contribute.
- Richards may not be useful in the defensive end anymore, but he still can contribute offensively. What a shot.
- Losing Marc Staal is rough. Hopefully it’s not a long term thing.
December is a big month for the Rangers. After losing a sloppy game at home against the Jets, the Rangers played better in their win in Buffalo. Now the Devils are in town to kick off nine straight home games for the Blueshirts. Beating Jersey is very important, as the Rangers are two points up on the Devils with a game in hand, but taking hold of this nine game home stretch and rattling off six or seven wins is more important. This is a team that is 5-6 at home, and that cannot continue. They need wins, and this is the best stretch for them to collect them.
The Devils use two separate forechecking systems. In the early going the Devils play a 2-1-2 forecheck, but once the Devils get a lead, they switch forechecking strategies to a 1-2-2 hybrid trap. In the defensive zone, the Devils play an overload/low zone collapse style similar to what the Rangers want to execute. On special teams, the Devils play your standard umbrella powerplay. On the penalty kill, the Devs play a rotation between a box and a diamond, depending on puck location and the setup of the opposition.
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The yo-yoing of Michael St. Croix continued today, as the organization returned him to the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors. St. Croix remains scoreless with the Wolf Pack in nine games. In the ECHL, St. Croix has a line of 2-4-6 in 10 games. St. Croix’s biggest issue is lack of consistency in all three zones.
Per Larry Brooks, Benoit Pouliot’s time in the lineup has come to an end. The recently recalled J.T. Miller will take his spot in the lineup, skating with Derick Brassard and Carl Hagelin. The other lineup change is Justin Falk in for Michael Del Zotto. It appears Alain Vigneault is matching Del Zotto and Falk based on opposition. The Devils have a little more snarl in the lineup, so the tougher Falk dresses.
Derek Dorsett is still battling wrist issues, and is not playing tonight.
The Rangers have recalled forward J.T. Miller from the Hartford Wolf Pack. In six games with the Pack this year, Miller has a line of 5-1-6 with 6 PIMs and a +4 rating. Miller has spent most of his time with the Rangers this season, dressing for 15 games and a 1-1-2 line with a -4 rating and 8 PIMs.
With both Taylor Pyatt and Benoit Pouliot struggling, it is expected that Miller will be inserted into the lineup for one of them.
In a bit of a surprising move, the Rangers have traded forward Brandon Mashinter to the Chicago Blackhawks for forward Kyle Beach. Mashinter. In ten total games with the Rangers over two seasons, Mashinter was held off the score sheet with ten PIMS. With Hartford this year, Mash had a line of 1-6-7 in 11 games with 15 PIMs.
Beach, currently with the Rockford Icedogs of the AHL, has a line of 4-0-4 in 7 games. Beach has no NHL experience.
This is a very minor move, as neither had much NHL experience. It is worth noting that Beach is a right handed shot. He will report to Hartford.
Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images
The Rangers came into Buffalo not only in need of a win, but in need of a win where they dominated the opposition. They did both last night, taking control of the Sabres in a 3-1 win. Henrik Lundqvist was stellar, and the Rangers scored at even strength and on the powerplay for a nicely balanced scoring attack. New York dominated puck possession, and was finally able to convert on scoring chances. Sure it was Buffalo, but confidence building has to start somewhere.
Speaking of Hank, what a game he played. He wasn’t tested often, but he had a lot of difficult saves to make, including three acrobatic saves (one split on a breakaway, one glove save, and one diving blocker save). He was surely on his game last night.
As for special teams, the Rangers PK is still phenomenal, and the PP continues to convert and generate solid chances.
On to the goals:
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The Rangers are in Buffalo tonight to take on the league’s worst team that is currently in a state of flux. Since these two teams last faced off, the Sabres have fired their head coach (Ron Rolston) and their GM (Darcy Regier). Pat Lafontaine was hired as President, and charged with finding a GM and a coach. As of now Ted Nolan is the interim head coach of the team as Lafontaine continues his search, but this is a team that is 2-6 since the shake up.
Ted Nolan has the Sabres running a 1-2-2 forechecking system and try to shut down the middle of the ice. For the defensive zone system, he has them playing the low-zone collapse pretty much exclusively. On special teams, the Sabres run an umbrella power play and a wedge+1 penalty kill.
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