After a run that saw the Rangers score just nine goals in seven games, Alain Vigneault has shaken up his lines (per Pat Leonard). The only line that remains intact is the Kreider-Stepan-Zuccarello line:
Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Rick Nash
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Ryan Callahan
Brian Boyle-Dominic Moore-Derek Dorsett
In reality this illustrates the Rangers dire need for a winger, since Pouliot has been anything but reliable in his first 24 games as a Ranger. The injured Taylor Pyatt is not the answer either.
On the powerplay, Andrew Gross notes some changes as well:
Kreider-Stepan-Brassard-Zuccarello-Del Zotto-John Moore
At this point I’m surprised Marc Staal isn’t getting a look at the point. Or Stralman, who has history with Scott Arniel.
In a move that is probably a week late, the Rangers have sent J.T. Miller to the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. Miller had been a healthy scratch since the 11/17 game against LA, a 1-0 loss. In his time with New York, Miller was placed on the fourth line, rarely given offensive minutes. The reason the Rangers kept him around was as an extra body in case of injury on the road trip.
With Miller’s demotion it is expected that Taylor Pyatt will be ready to return by Friday’s game in Boston. Pyatt has been out with a concussion, and Friday would be the earliest the club would need him.
Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images
This was a rough one to watch. Unlike the 9-2 and 6-0 thrashings on the west coast, the Rangers dominated puck possession for most of the game. They just couldn’t get one past a surprisingly good Ben Bishop (who has been good for most of the year). Plus, it looked like the team was gripping their sticks too tight after getting into a 2-0 hole within three minutes.
The Rangers may have dominated puck possession, but the Lightning caused turnovers and, more importantly, capitalized on those turnovers. Puck possession is an important aspect of the game, but when you are turning the puck over so much, your opponents will beat you. There’s no way around it.
On to the goals:
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AP Photo/Mike Strasinger
After winning two games in a row in the central time zone, the Rangers are back in this time zone to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa is falling and falling fast without the injured Steven Stamkos, losing their last four games in a row. This is also a team that had good puck luck (over 100 PDO) early on while not driving puck possession, which is a recipe for losses and regression to the mean. While that doesn’t guarantee a win, it means the Rangers are catching the Lightning at a vulnerable time.
These aren’t your 1-3-1 neutral zone trapping Guy Boucher Lightning anymore. Jon Cooper has the Lightning playing a pretty similar system as the Rangers. They run an aggressive 1-2-2 forecheck with a lot of pinching from their defensemen. Once they get a 2 goal lead, they tend to sit back in the neutral zone with a more passive 1-2-2.
In the defensive zone, the Lightning seem to struggle with balancing when to pursue vs. when to contain since they mix man-on-man and low zone collapse defensive strategies. On special teams, they still run a 1-3-1 power play and a diamond/box hybrid penalty kill.
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The Hartford Wolf Pack made a move today to hopefully address some of their goaltending isues, recalled Jeff Malcolm from the ECHL’s Greenville Road Warriors and demoting Scott Stajcer to the ECHL. Malcolm has been one of the top goalies in the ECHL, posting a 1.96 GAA and a .940 SV%. Meanwhile, Stajcer has been struggling with Hartford, putting up a 2.27 GAA and a .904 SV%.
We all would like to thank you for entering the ticket giveaway contest for the 11/29 game in Boston. We got a lot of great entries and stories about how the Rangers first came into your lives. We are very grateful for every person that comes here, reads the blog, and discusses the Rangers in the comments.
I’m not going to post full contact information of our winners here (duh), but our winners are Matt and Jared, and I have reached out to you both regarding next steps. You will both be contacted soon (not by me) for how to collect your tickets. Details are in your emails.
Again, thank you all for entering. I apologize for not being able to reach out to each entrant, but rest assured each entry was read and discussed. It was our pleasure to be able to give away four tickets to this game, and I wish we could have given tickets to all of you. We hope that we have many more opportunities to give back like this again.
Per Pat Leonard, injured winger Taylor Pyatt has rejoined the team in Tampa Bay. Pyatt, who was concussed after taking a head shot from Columbus Blue Jackets defender Fedor Tyutin, has not played since that game in Columbus on November 7. Pyatt has been the target of a lot of criticism from the fans for his play this season, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that everyone wants to see him healthy.
Although Pyatt has rejoined the team, his return date is still unknown.
This is just a reminder to get your submissions to me (email on the right) for a chance to win a pair of tickets to the 11/29 game in Boston. You can see all the details here, but I must reiterate that you should only submit an entry if you can actually go to the game.
Discover was kind enough to provide some interesting stats regarding watching hockey versus going shopping on Black Friday:
If hockey fans were forced to choose between shopping on Black Friday or watching the Discover-NHL Thanksgiving Showdown, 73 percent would watch the game, according to new data released by Discover. Just 11 percent would go shopping and 9 percent would record the game while they shop. Even more surprising, 48 percent of hockey fans would choose to see their favorite team play its biggest rival live and miss Thanksgiving dinner—if such a game was happening on Turkey Day. Thirteen percent would even move Thanksgiving dinner to the next day to accommodate their fandom.
Entries must be submitted by midnight tonight.
Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images
How about that Cam Talbot? First he backstops the Rangers to their first win in Montreal since 2009 and their first shutout in Montreal in about 50 years. Then, he comes into Nashville and shuts them out too. When you throw in a third period blanking in Columbus, the “rookie” (he doesn’t qualify as a rookie since he is 27) has a shutout streak of over 140 minutes. I think the exact number is 146:28. That’s impressive.
As for the rest of the team, this game was never really in doubt. The Rangers dominated puck possession all night, and while Marek Maznec was great in net, he was victimized by one defensive breakdown and one turnover. The Rangers did a good job of not letting Nashville get into an offensive groove as well.
On to the goals:
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Photo: KOSTAS LYMPEROPOULOS/CSM Landov
The Rangers are in Nashville tonight to take on a mediocre Predators team with a -13 goal differential. You can argue that the Rangers have a -8 goal differential, making them just as mediocre, but we know there are a few games skewing that. The key to beating Nashville is staying out of the box, since they convert at over 20% with the man advantage. Shea Weber at the point does that to a powerplay. Regardless, this is a mediocre team that the Rangers need to beat and continue to roll.
Nashville, under Barry Trotz, plays a 1-1-3 lock, a forecheck that can be used aggressively or conservatively. In the defensive zone, the Preds are mostly conservative, playing a low zone collapse/box+1. They also run an umbrella/ 1-3-1 power play, and they run it very well (21.6% success). On the PK they run diamond/box hybrid penalty kill depending on puck location and opposition setup.
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