With Rick Nash’s imminent return to the Rangers line-up the team today sent Brandon Mashinter back to the Hartford WolfPack in the AHL. Mashinter appears a classic tweener, a very solid AHL’er with some NHL ability but whether with the Sharks or the Rangers, the physical winger hasn’t been able to establish himself in the NHL thus far.
Having appeared in six games for the Rangers thus far, Mashinter has averaged less than five minutes per game going scoreless along the way. For the record, Nash is close but has not committed to the line-up for the Bruins game on Tuesday. Given the return of the Rangers offensive woes (aka your boys can’t finish) Nash’s arrival in the line-up cannot happen soon enough.
Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images
About midway through October we asked everyone to have some patience after we started the season less than stellar. As I say every year — wait till the 20 game mark before planning a parade, trade, or handing out pink slips. Not every organization follows this advice of course, but most good ones do.
As expected, the Rangers have now made the full transition from playing Tortorella’s 2-1-2 spread forechecking system to AV’s more overload style of play. There’s still a fair amount of similarities between the two coaches though, definitely more than most would care to admit.
The Rangers still collapse in the slot and block a ton of shots, rather than pressuring the points. AV is also not afraid to shorten his bench if guys aren’t going. The zone-start/player deployment strategy (after a whistle) is pretty similar. Both regime’s penalty killing strategies are nearly identical. Though to be fair, most of these philosophies are fairly common in the NHL.
Where things get interesting though is for the players who haven’t yet made the transition. Obviously everyone learns at their own pace, but at some point the org has to start wondering about certain players and their adaptability.
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AP Photo/Kathy Willens
On Saturday the Rangers blanked the Habs 1-0 behind their backup goalie. Last night, they themselves were blanked 1-0 by their opponent’s backup goalie. It’s kind of funny how that works out. The Kings did to the Rangers what they did to the Canadiens, completely outworking, out possessing, and outplaying them in every facet of the game. If not for stellar play from Henrik Lundqvist, this game would have been a lot worse than the 1-0 final score.
Now don’t get me wrong, the Rangers didn’t play poorly last night. Their powerplay didn’t convert on five chances, and two separate 5-on-3s, but it wasn’t for lack of creativity, shots, or puck movement. Their defense and goaltending was good. They just couldn’t solve Ben Scrivens (37 saves), subbing in for the injured Jonathan Quick. The Kings goal was a fluke goal too. These games happen sometimes. Puck luck just doesn’t go your way.
On to the goal (and the disallowed goal):
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After a strong win in Montreal, the Rangers are home tonight to take on the LA Kings, who are without star goalie Jonathan Quick. Don’t let that fool you, the Kings have won two straight with Ben Scrivins in net, and will be looking to exact revenge on the Rangers, who beat them 3-1 in October. That was a different Rangers team though.
On the ice, Daryl Sutter is an aggressive coach and they play similar to how the Rangers used to under Torts. The Kings run a 2-1-2 forecheck, and they aren’t anything out of they ordinary when it comes to defensive zone schemes (overload/low zone collapse), power play strategies (umbrella), or penalty kill formations (hybrid, depends on puck location/situation). This is a team that will pressure the Rangers non-stop, but this is also a team that hasn’t faced the Rangers since they hit their stride this month.
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Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images
Cam Talbot and the Rangers did what we thought was impossible. New York, who has not won in Montreal in since Torts was less than 2 months on the job
the Tom Renney regime, skated into Montreal determined to come out with a win and show everyone their bounce back after a horrible start was for real. Talbot stopped 22 shots for his first career shutout, and the Rangers needed just one powerplay goal to disappoint the hometown fans. It was their first win in Montreal since 2009, and their first shutout of the Habs since 1967.
The Rangers did almost everything right this game. They stayed out of the box, they capitalized on their one big powerplay chance (the 5-on-3), they got stellar goaltending, they played great defense. Sure, they only put up one goal on 34 shots, but that’s more a reflection on Carey Price’s play than the Rangers. They dominated the puck possession game from start to finish, something we hadn’t seen all year.
On to the goal and the Fenwick chart:
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After a disappointing loss to the Devils, the Rangers take the ice in Montreal to take on the Canadiens. This is the first of three straight games against playoff teams, so this stretch will tell us how far along the Rangers have come since their 3-7 start. That said, the Rangers don’t win in Montreal. Period. I don’t think I can remember the last time the Rangers won there. Henrik Lundqvist doesn’t play well there either, and it’s why Cam Talbot gets the start tonight.
Under Michel Therrien, the Canadiens play a 1-2-2 forecheck, but do use a 2-1-2 style from time to time based on the score and puck location. Though this team prefers to want to play passive and clog up the neutral zone. Like the Rangers, Montreal’s defensive zone system is to overload when the puck is along the boards and collapse around the slot when the puck is behind the net.
What’s interesting is that Therrien has said in the past that they overload the boards because of their team size and speed (note: small and fast). On special teams, the Habs play your standard umbrella powerplay. On the penalty kill, they rotate between a diamond force and a box depending on puck location. They really look to pressure the opposition all over the ice when shorthanded.
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AP Photo/Kathy Willens
With Michael Del Zotto sitting out tonight against Montreal as a healthy scratch, the trade rumors swirled again. This time Renaud Lavoie, a reporter from Montreal, noted that he is hearing Del Zotto could be had. Suit covered the possibility of a trade, specifically a Del Zotto trade, last week. Without rehashing the entire post, the trade rumors are a bit ill-timed. While it it likely the Rangers are willing to part with Del Zotto, it is unlikely they will just trade him. They will need something they can use in return.
Of course, they need a right-handed defenseman. That is the return they want. Preferably a puck moving right-handed defenseman, but one that can play 18 minutes a night will suffice.
The problem with this is that any RHD is a coveted player. They are about as rare as the legitimate top line center. It doesn’t mean they can’t be found, it means that teams aren’t really willing to trade them.
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Per Pat Leonard, Rick Nash is wearing a full contact jersey today in practice. This is nothing short of great news, as his time table for return –which had been as long as week-to-week earlier this week– is now day-to-day. The Rangers are that much closer to their best player returning to the lineup.
Also per Leonard, Michael Del Zotto appears to be a healthy scratch, as he is paired with Nash on defense. Justin Falk is skating with John Moore. Leonard also notes that Dominic Moore is a go for tomorrow, and Brandon Mashinter will be scratched.
The BSB Friday live chat returns today to torpedo your productivity at work. Join us at 1pm, where we will be talking all things Rangers; Rick Nash’s imminent return, JT Miller’s ice time (or lack thereof), the emergence of Chris Kreider, anything you want. See everyone this afternoon!