Rangers Top Line Hot At Right Time

March 21, 2011, by

With yesterday’s win over the Penguins, the Rangers made it four wins in a row, and wins in six of their last seven games. While the entire Rangers team has been producing during this run, the top line of Vinny Prospal-Erik Christensen-Marian Gaborik has been one of the teams top scoring lines. Gaborik has five goals and an assist in this time frame, Prospal has two goals and seven assists, and Christensen has two goals and four assists. That’s a total of nine goals and 12 assists for the top line during this run. The fact that this coincides with the Rangers winning streak is no coincidence.

The Rangers have had secondary scoring from their bottom three lines all season, with Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, and Brian Boyle all over 20 goals; and Derek Stepan (19) and Artem Anisimov (18) both within striking distance. What had been missing from the Rangers is the primary scoring, which is what they are getting in abundance right now. With the top line producing in ways we haven’t seen all season, the rest of the team benefits.

Marian Gaborik will always command top defensive pairings against, but his off-year has led to coaches shifting those top pairings to the Dubinsky-Ansimov-Callahan line. That shift led to a drop-off in production for that line. Now with Gaborik and Prospal producing top line numbers again, coaches once again have to shift their top defenders to face Gaborik. This means lesser quality defensemen for the Pack line. This means more opportunities from the Pack line, and more goals.

What also may be lost in the streak here is that the Rangers are finally starting to convert powerplay opportunities. Of the 21 points for the top line, ten of them have been on the powerplay, including four of the nine goals. Powerplay production sets apart the good from the great, especially in the playoffs. The addition of Bryan McCabe may not have a direct impact on the score sheet, but it is definitely spreading out the opposition’s penalty kill, and leading to more opportunities down low for the forwards, which they are converting.

Assuming the Rangers top line can continue scoring at least a goal per game, and continue with at least a 20% efficiency (8 for their last 23), then the Rangers are going to be a force to be reckoned with come April and May. They may not have enough to make a deep run, but they can definitely play spoiler in the first round, whoever they face.


  1. dbmaven says:

    Tortorella basically said in the post-game that the Prospal-Christensen-Gaborik line was “brutal” last night. Blysma was putting Staal’s line out against them and was “eating them up” – which is why they got diminished ice-time during/after 2nd period.
    They’ve been OK in other games as you describe – but they’re not up to facing a top-tier checking line.

    • Section 121 says:

      yeah, Gabby only had 12:20 ATOI, Prospal less than 12, EC less than 8

      Dubi over 21 and Cally over 20.

      Sorry but Prospal-EC-Gabby is NOT a top line. If anything, it’s the PP that gives these players the opportunity to get on the score sheet, that’s all.

  2. Section 121 says:

    Let’s not forget Dubi-AA-Cally were putting up great numbers against top checking units the whole first month of the season; no Gabby, no Prospal

    Other teams did not have another line to check against except the Pack line.

    • RangerSmurf says:

      Tis true, and when Dubi’s line wasn’t getting the toughs, it was Boyle.

      Dubi’s line, even when Gaborik’s line is rolling, is going to draw other teams top lines (though not necessarily top defensive pairs)

  3. Zen says:

    Completely agree. This is way off the mark. This line has been doing better as of late, but they were just plain awful yesterday. Gaborik wasn’t too bad, but EC and Prospal were unwatchable.

  4. tom says:

    you guys really are lost whatever line gaborik is on is the top line he is our only true scorer im so sick of hearing about cally and dubie they are great role players and they leave it all out there every night but try making it to the playoffs with two guys that are lucky to score 25 especialy when other teams start playing the top defense man and best defensive line

    • Gary says:

      Hello Hater- if your sick of hearing about two great home grown Ranger players stick to reading other teams blogs!

      • tom says:

        not a hater just now the difference between great role players and great player but let me know whenever we win the cup if dubie or cally are our top point getters

  5. JT says:

    I’m glad McCabe’s getting some kudos. I give him much of the credit for the PP’s recent success. He hasn’t put it in the net much yet, but his big shot and crisp, smart passes have altered the dynamic, forcing opponents to defend less aggressively and giving the Ranger PP skaters more room to operate. His shot has created several rebound goals, and motivated teammates to pull the trigger more quickly and more often. Further, his patience with the puck, his subtle puckhandling moves and smart passing have given some of the younger players something to emulate. As far as I’m concerned, he’s had a big positive impact.

    • Brian SCS says:

      I totally agree with this, although McCabe hasn’t been as solid defensively as I had hoped. All in all he has given this team a much needed powerplay boost.

  6. Terence Dorman says:

    I think it’s hard to call any line the top line on the Rangers with the way all of them have been performing lately.

    Each of the lines simply have moments of brilliance and specific games where they are hot. Yesterday’s game was certainly a stronger night for the Callahan-Dubi-AA line, yet in the game against the Islanders the Gaby-EC-Prospal line was in top form.

    Tortorella has been switching the lines up all year and has only just recently begun playing a three-line team. During the middle stretch of the season all four of the lines were getting an equal amount of play (for the most part) and we are now seeing the benefits of that.

    As far as I can tell there it is extremely difficult to pinpoint a “top line” as the “top 3” have been putting up equal numbers throughout the whole season.

  7. Joe says:

    I’m not trying to diminish that Prospal’s scoring streak is a nice surprise and Gabi finding the net is great finally but how many points in the past 4 game winning streak has the Dubi-AA-Callie line scored? AA opened the scoring against the Habs and Callie ends up with the GW goal (he leads the team with 5). I think the Wolf line is just as important, if not more, than the Prospal-EC-Gabi line in the run for the playoffs. No they aren’t 30+ scorers but without them this year we’d be just as bad as the Islanders.

  8. bree says:

    i don’t think that torts has a true top line. all lines are productive and doing something beneficial for the team. is gabby a great sniper with tons of talent? yes that can’t be overlooked, but is he the only true scorer? i don’t think so. cally and dubie are putting up great numbers and without them and AA, the rangers wouldn’t have the identity that they’ve established this season.and not to mention boyle and prust who have become so reliable. torts is not afraid to play that line in key situations. i can’t even think of them as a fourth line because they have become a lot more than that. sure some goals aren’t pretty, but that doesn’t make them insufficient offensive players. unfortunately gabby hasn’t been consistent. those players are playing consistent hockey. they are playing every game like it’s their last which is playoff style hockey, how can you imply, tom, that they are not playoff contenders? it’s a team effort. i’d take a team who has 8 guys with over 30 points, then one guy pulling all the weight. the rangers have finally found a team, instead of one guy to rely on. that, in my opinion, is the key to going deep into the playoffs.

  9. POTVINSUCKS says:

    So, 1st, 2nd, Conf Finals or Stanley Cup for our boys in blue?

  10. matt j says:

    Offense overall has been great of late. Just get our D together and not leav Hank out there and this team can go places.