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The Rangers appeared to right the ship on Friday night with a big third period en route to a 4-2 win over the Hurricanes. Today it’s a much tougher opponent in Detroit, who is currently in a playoff battle of their own. The Rangers are in direct competition with the Wings, as they will need to finish ahead of them in points in order to claim a wild card spot (if they fail to finish in the top three in the Metro). This is another four-point swing game against a potential playoff suitor.
Mike Babcock has his boys playing a 2-1-2 forecheck, but mix in a LW lock depending on game situation. In their own zone, Detroit plays a straight up zone defense. On the PP, the Wings employ an umbrella and a 1-3-1 formation, but will use Zetterberg as a rover. Keep an eye on him. He’s all over the zone. On the penalty kill they change up their strategy depending on the opposition’s setup.
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Per Larry Brooks, Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman has rejected a contract extension from the Rangers worth $9 million over three years. Stralman, who signed as a free agent during the 2011-2012 season, has a line of 1-7-8 in 63 games this year while playing on the second pairing with Marc Staal. The recent acquisition of Kevin Klein –couple with Stralman’s poor play lately– has moved Stralman to the bottom pairing with John Moore.
Stralman is on the final year of his deal that pays him $1.8 million ($1.7 million cap hit). Despite the low offensive production, Stralman is the team leader in relative puck possession (+7.3% Corsi relative). He starts 51.2% of his shifts in the offensive zone, which helps his puck possession stats a bit, and has seen the fourth-highest quality of competition among defensemen (which makes sense based on his usage).
The rejection is a bit….confusing. Then again, Andrew MacDonald turned down $4 million a year from the Islanders. So what do I know?
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When the Rangers sent a 2015 5th round pick to Vancouver for Raphael Diaz, many wondered where he would fit in. The Rangers seem set in the top-four with Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein, and Marc Staal. They also have a fairly effective third pair in John Moore and Anton Stralman, although that pairing has been rather inconsistent of late. With Justin Falk serving as the backup, the acquisition of Diaz –at least on the surface– seemed odd.
But this isn’t an acquisition that we should sleep on. Aside from the obvious depth issues (Falk would be getting at least 10 minutes a night if there were an injury to one of the top-six), the Rangers are one of the worst in the NHL at getting production from their blue liners. Diaz isn’t just some scrub pick up. He’s got more points than Moore, Stralman, Klein, Falk, and Staal. From offensive production alone, he’s already third among Rangers blue liners.
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The Rangers came into last night’s game on a three game losing streak and in desperate need of two points. They did just that by scoring four times in the third period, erasing a pair of one-goal deficits in the process. New York peppered Anton Khudobin with 44 shots, finally solving him in the third period. Henrik Lundqvist made 22 saves, and the two goals were shots in which Hank had no chance.
Martin St. Louis recorded his first point as a Ranger, assisting on Derek Stepan’s powerplay game winner. The defense didn’t allow the Canes to register a single Fenwick event after gaining a 3-2 lead, which is a very impressive feat. Another impressive feat: With the shorthanded goal tonight, the Rangers scored three straight shorties in the past two games.
On to the goals:
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Well, the Rangers came out of the Olympic break in a bit of a lull, dropping three in a row and collecting just three points out of eight in their past four games. Tonight they are in Carolina facing a team that is not going to be making the playoffs. This is the perfect game for the Rangers to right the ship and start collecting some much needed points.
On the ice, the Canes play a bit of a hybrid forechecking system. They play an aggressive 2-3 to start the game, but will switch to a trap late in the game with a lead. In the defensive zone , they run box + 1 system, which is a box setup in front with a player pressuring depending on the puck location. On special teams, the Canes run an umbrella powerplay and a hybrid penalty kill (varies between the systems based on puck location).
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The Hartford Wolf Pack have sent forwards Andrew Yogan and Michael St. Croix to the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors. St. Croix was recalled last week to serve as an injury replacement for Danny Kristo, and is scoreless in 13 AHL games. Yogan has a line of 5-5-10 in 40 games with the Pack, and this is his first demotion to the ECHL.
Per Andrew Gross, the Rangers are getting back their leading scorer (well, not including Martin St. Louis) tonight, as Mats Zuccarello will be rejoining the lineup after suffering a broken hand in the Olympics. Zuccarello missed Norway’s final game in Sochi and the first five games since the break. Zucc will likely rejoin linemates Benoit Pouliot and Derick Brassard on the third line.
Derek Dorsett, who was the only forward at the optional skate this morning, will likely sit.
AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
The Rangers showed some guts last night, scoring a pair of third period short handed goals to force overtime in a game where they definitely came out a little flat following the Ryan Callahan trade. The pair of non-penalty shot goals given up were due to blown coverages though, and those are things the Rangers have avoided during their January/February run.
Jonathan Bernier stopped 35 Ranger shots, and before everyone throws the backup moniker at him, let’s remember he has a .925 SV% this year. The Rangers didn’t play poorly, but they had a few lapses that cost them the game. They also took four penalties (one penalty shot), which didn’t help matters for a team that needed two points. The Rangers are still oh-for-March.
On to the goals (no pictures today, sorry about that):
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The Rangers were shocked this afternoon when news of the Ryan Callahan trade spread. The Ranges landed the better player in the deal in Martin St. Louis, but the shock of a captain-for-captain trade from two teams that are likely headed to the playoffs certainly hit the Rangers hard. Toronto is in town tonight, and they are three points ahead of the Rangers in the wildcard chase (Rangers are in third in the Atlantic though) with a game in hand. A win in regulation moves the Rangers closer to that playoff goal.
The Leafs mostly rotate between an aggressive 1-2-2 forecheck and a passive 1-2-2. However, they’ll also mix in a 2-1-2 forecheck on occasion depending on game situation. In the defensive zone, the Leafs generally play a collapsing box +1, which will leave the point men open for opportunities. Their powerplay (umbrella) is fairly standard. On the kill, the Leafs will rotate between PK strategies depending on opposition setup.
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The Rangers upgraded on Justin Falk as their 7D as the deadline expired, nabbing Raphael Diaz from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2015 5th round pick. Diaz has a line of 1-11-12 in split time with Montreal and Vancouver this season, and would be a solid fill in on the bottom pair in case of injury. This is a depth move for the Rangers.
It should be noted that Diaz has better #fancystats than both John Moore and Kevin Klein.