The Line Tinkering Begins

October 10, 2011, by

Looks like we didn’t have to wait long to see new lines. At practice today, the Rangers showed off new lines and pairings in preparation for their Friday matchup at The World’s Crappiest Coliseum (I don’t mean that as a slight against the Islanders, who may turn some heads this year. I mean that as a slight against the arena itself. My shoes stick to the ground while I’m there).  The new lines are relatively expected, considering Wojtek Wolski may be out longer than expected with his lingering groin issue:

Brandon Dubinsky-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik
Ruslan Fedotenko-Artem Anisimov-Ryan Callahan
Brandon Prust-Derek Stepan-Brian Boyle
Mats Zuccarello-Erik Christensen-Mike Rupp

The first thing people will notice is that Zuccarello is on the fourth line, and with good reason. He simply has not impressed that much after a strong preseason. His game against Los Angeles was horrible, and he did not do anything to earn more ice time against Anaheim.

It is a fair assumption that when Wolski returns, he will at least get a game with Richards and Gaborik on the top line. In fact, you can pretty much shift every person down a line on the LW when Wolski returns, and it works out for the lines. Of course, that means Zuccarello would sit, which if he continues to play the way he did in the first two games, may be warranted. It will either be him or Christensen that sees the press box.

As for defense, with Mike Sauer not skating today, the pairings were changed:

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Tim Erixon-Steve Eminger
Michael Del Zotto-Jeff Woywitka

It’s not all that intimidating, but assume the Rangers will go back to their original pairings when Sauer is back in the lineup. The depth is questionable, but with two of their top four not skating, the defense will look thin. Sauer in and Woywitka out makes a huge difference. As does Marc Staal in and Tim Erixon out.  Unfortunately the latter move won’t happen for a while.

Categories : Lineup Changes


  1. Matt J says:

    The last two lines don’t make much sense to me. I would still take MZA on that third line. He’s better than EC. I also am not a fan of Boyle on the wing.

    • Dave says:

      The lineup is a bit flawed. MZA hasn’t performed in the first two games, he’s barely getting shifts now. Let’s see how Prust does there.

      I think those 3 make up the 3rd line because the 4th line is a bunch of guys who get about 10 shifts a game.

  2. Krister says:

    Look at the stretch in the team.. The defense is 10 meter to far behind. Its a shame that a extreme talent like Zuccarello is the fourth line.
    This season is going to be:
    Dump, chase puck = Turnovers.
    To be realist: Gaborik isnt doing much good is he?
    Torts need to find a “playing” team, with puck skills.. Its ok to grind etc. But why have a player like zuc in 4th line. When Gabby is doing the same in first line?

    • Dave says:

      It’s been two games.

      • Krister says:

        I know, sorry! Just frustrated over the fact that we have a good team, but cant find the “zone”!
        I can see (seen every european match, including the last two) Gabby in turnover spot at full speed way ahead of the defense. He has to turn back again, then the movement is gone!

      • JB says:

        You say that, and at the same time you give mza the shit-end of the stick after the same two games… He was one of the best players in preseason, and now after two games- where none of the players have impressed, its ridiculous to start dumping him down the lines. We know what kind of a player he is, hes a playmaker, he can make decisive offensive plays. Thats why they brought him over in the first place… But to do that you have to play with good offensive players. You cant play on the 4th line and be expected to grind. Im starting to think well never get to see- and really test his potential.

        • Dave says:

          I’m working on a post that may explain why MZA is struggling against NHL opponents. Expect it sometime this week.

        • Krister says:

          Yes. He was a MVP in Sweden. That ALONE is enough for a place in top two lines in NYR.
          End of story.
          PS: Its Not our forwards that fail! It starts from the defense with a big stretch.. They will get better.
          And MZA isnt struggeling at all, he is in the wrong line.
          If MZA switch place with Gabby, then Gabby will loose points fast..
          Not comparing but, the best need to play with the best..

          • The Suit says:

            Just because MZA succeeded in Europe doesn’t mean he will succeed here.

            He’s struggling, but he’ll turn it around. And when he does, he won’t be on the 4th line. This is an impermanent move peeps.

            • JB says:

              Yeah no, I know. I dont mean to say hes been outstanding in every game. He still has a lot to work on and maybe hell never be able to adapt hes game. Problem is that he definitely wont turn it around playing on the 4th line. I mean what do we expect? that mza will put up points every night playing 7min with ec and rupp?

              For most of last season and now in the beginning of this one, theres been a lot of frustration about their lack of offensive skill and I think its wrong to put it on players like mza for not grinding and fighting hard enough in the corners… I think you have to play them for what theyre good at. Maybe theres just not room for mza in torts style?

              • The Suit says:

                It’s a valid point, but I think he’s looking for MZA to make some plays in all three zones. If he can do that with limited minutes, he’ll move up.

                He doesn’t need to go on a tear, just show he’s not a liability and can keep the play going north.

              • JB says:

                True and thats something he has to be able to do. For the team though, and their lack of offense, you have to give some to get some and I think mza is able to contribute much more if given a fair chance and playing with the right players.

  3. Walt says:

    It’s only 2 games, and already the line changes just keep coming. How about using Step on the first line, Dubi then skates with his unit on the 2nd line, Boyle goes back to his line, and the fourth line could be whatever! By doing what he is, Tort’s has screwed up two very effective lines, and disrupted what chemistry the team had last year. Hay Torts, why not let these guys skate together, and leave them alone?

  4. Section 121 says:


    Swap Stepan and Boyle if need be – one could argue he has been just a ineffective as MZA the first two games…

  5. wwpd says:

    why is anisimov the 4th man in the shootout?

    why is MZA in the top 3 for that matter?

    • Bobby G says:

      MZA is an allstar in the shootout. MZA, Wolski, and EC are far and beyond the best shootout players on this team. After that, the only player I remember seeing score in the shootout was Anisimov once or twice. After those top three, we really have very little talent when it comes to the shootout.

      • wwpd says:

        MZA has one move and now everyone has figured it out he hasn’t scored with it since.

        AA scored one goal ten months ago. Meanwhile for example there’s a guy named Brad Richards who has scored 9 over the past two seasons, so my question stands.

  6. scrangersfan says:

    I think keeping MZA on the roster and not giving him playing minutes will only destroy his confidance.Torts.should either play him or send him down where he can play regular shifts until he is ready to come back to the NHL. He is very young and I think hes got telent to become a solid player but Tortarella playing head games will not benefit MDZ.

    Fire Tors and recall Avery!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Blueshirt in Paris says:

      If he doesn’t play in the NHL this year I highly doubt he resigns for next year so that argument of developing him is moot.

  7. Bway Bshirt says:

    The old school kraut line in the nhl had a fantastic mindset…never dump ever….u work to get the puck why give it right back..the closest a winning team comes to dump n chase is cycling..unless killing a penalty.

  8. The Suit says:

    How come everyone whines about Torts changing the lines around, yet everyone has their own line tinkering ideas? Where’s YOUR consistency? Silk ties for no one.

    • Blueshirt in Paris says:

      Lol, was thinking the same thing. Some posters if given the chance would change the line while the line was still on the ice.

    • Section 121 says:

      IF i were the coach, I would tinker all night and day in practice to see what actually looks good based on my initial ideas. But, when it comes to games, I would let the chosen combinations play for at least 8 to 10 games before pulling the plug.

      • The Suit says:

        I duno bud, an 8 game scoring drought for a top player is a long time to go without changing something

  9. becky says:

    I don’t get why anyone would be bummed out about changing the lines, if they see something isn’t working, changing it up is a nice change of pace. Good to see someone cares and wants to make a difference. I’ve been a Mets fan for too long, haven’t I?

  10. dave says:

    When they finally figure out that Gabby is not the player they think he is,things will get better. Put Richards with Dubi and Cally and you have a solid line. The second line could be Stepan – Gabby – MZA.
    Prust-Boyle-Rupp with Boyle, where he plays best at center, is third line. Feds- Anisimov-Rupp round it out.