Replacing Boyle in the lineup

April 23, 2012, by

When Chris Neil took out Brian Boyle with a questionable hit on Saturday night, he took out the Rangers most effective forward. He took out their leading scorer, top defensive forward, and top penalty killer in this series. He took out the only player that has managed to get under the skin of the Senators. It’s a big blow to the Rangers, and not a player easily replaced. The best the Rangers can do is find some sort of lineup option that maximizes the return of Carl Hagelin, and minimizes the departure of Boyle. This is no easy task.

Side note: Is it great for the depth of the team to say that Boyle has been the best forward, or is it a sign of weakness in the top six? Tough call there.

The good news, as mentioned above, is that Hagelin will be returning to the lineup tonight after serving his three game suspension for elbowing and concussing Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson. The addition of Hagelin adds some much needed speed and puck possession to the lineup, which also helps minimize the negative effects of having their top defensive forward out of the lineup.

This leaves the Rangers with a few lineup options to consider for the game, and while none are perfect, they give the Rangers much needed flexibility.

Option 1: Dress Hagelin for Boyle, no other changes.

This is the most likely option for John Tortorella. With one top-nine forward out and another top-nine forward coming back, it only makes sense to slide Hagelin into the lineup for Boyle, and then adjust the line combinations accordingly. The downside to this option is that without Boyle, the Rangers are left with a hole in toughness.

Option 2: Dress Hagelin and John Scott, sit John Mitchell.

John Mitchell has been relatively ineffective this series. It’s not that he’s been invisible, he’s just not as good as he was during the regular season. He seems to be missing coverages and not forechecking as hard as he can be. If the Rangers are looking to sacrifice some speed in Mitchell for some toughness in Scott, then this is an option. The biggest downside to this option is that Scott is like a traffic cone on the ice. The Senators will abuse him if he’s on the ice too long. If Scott dresses, it should be to go after one of Neil or Zenon Konopka. Three minutes of ice time tops for the big guy.

Option 3: Dress Hagelin and Steve Eminger, move Bickel to forward, sit Mitchell.

This is another option that would sacrifice some speed and mobility for added toughness, but without having a liability in Scott on the ice. Bickel has shown in the regular season that he can play forward somewhat effectively, which would give the Rangers another option on the fourth line. Dressing Eminger addresses losing Bickel on the blue line, but does so without really sacrificing what Bickel brings to the defense (note: nothing with three minutes of ice time). If the Rangers plan on retribution for Boyle, then this is another option that doesn’t leave them with a 6’7″ hole at forward in John Scott.

Of course the best option would have been dressing both Hagelin and Boyle, and sitting a forward (likely Mitchell), but that clearly can’t be done. Boyle is likely done for the year, and the Rangers will have to make due with the options they have in front of them. The good thing is that they have a bunch of options, which allows Tortorella to keep his choice a secret until game time.

The Rangers are still in this series, and while Boyle’s injury hurts, the return of Hagelin is a big boost to the club. It’s do or die tonight.


  1. Daler says:

    where does it say Boyle is done for year?

    • M Wostenholme says:

      ok so torts has let knopka, Neil and carkner police the ice…and here we are…the lineup has to be add scott and sit Mitchell…Scott pounds on carkner, rupp and Bickel fight Neil twice…because neil will avoid Scott…and prust fights zenon…and then rangers can physically pound on their dump and chase all night…Ottawa will cough it up and rangers win the series.

  2. becky says:

    I love option 3

    • becky says:

      Also – where’s the option to Carkner Neil?

      • Dave says:

        Do you really want to give the Sens a 5 min PP in an elimination game?

        • becky says:

          Not really, but the Sens got their swag at that point in game 2, no? It’s not the way that the Rangers play and I wouldn’t be thrilled, just some food for thought…

  3. Jeff P says:

    Kreider has been just as effective (ineffective) as Mitchell.

    • Zen says:

      Ridiculous comparison. Mitchell has played the whole season as an NHL regular and is only visible when failing to back-check on a big goals. CK has looked better in every game despite having no ice time and only a few games of NHL experience. Expect CK to have a MUCH bigger role in the game tonight and Mitchell to hardly see the ice.

      • Jeff P says:

        I’m not talking about 2012-13 season. Kreider at this point is simply not prepared for NHL level physicality and loses every single puck battle.
        Give him a full preseason to prepare, and I’m sure next year he’ll be fine, or better than fine. As for an elimination game in the playoffs give me a proven commodity like Mitchell.

        • Dave says:

          I think what Zen means is that it’s tough to make that comparison when Kreider hasn’t received much ice time.

        • Zen says:

          I get what you are saying, but Mitchell is no more than a 4th-line banger that has been a fringe NHLer his whole career. The only thing “proven” about him is that he has gotten some ice time this year and somewhat contributed.

          I am not the biggest fan of throwing CK into the fire in an elimination game, but anything is better than what Mitchell is giving this team right now. He really does nothing for them.

          • Jeff P says:

            You were both right and I was wrong. Even though the Rangers won tonight, Mitchell was dreadful, and Kreider played much better (I am not even talking about the goal, in general, he looked much better).

  4. Zen says:

    As much as I would want to change the line-up a little, this team really doesn’t have the options to do so. Scott basically can’t play and was a gigantic waste of a 5th rounder. Eminger is not going to provide an upgrade in any way and will probably be rusty… which is not what you want in an elimination game. Torts is basically stuck with what he has.

    • Dave says:

      I’m going to have to agree here. It’s not the best scenario to lost Boyle, but Hagelin coming in will provide them a boost.

  5. prole30 says:

    I don’t think Scott is an option at this point. They’ll catch up with Neil next year. Eminger is interesting but what kind of shape is he in? And off the wall,is Wade Redden available as the sixth defenceman?

  6. The Suit says:

    Torts is in a tough position. Mitchell has not been good defensively. Feds has been subpar on the forecheck and passive. Artie, Dubi, and Stepan have a grand total of 0 goals. Not a great series from our forwards.

    I think Torts’ only play is to reunite Hags Richie Gabby and pray they can get on the scoreboard. The rest of my lineup would be…

    Kreider Arty Cally
    Dubi Step Prust
    Feds Mitchell Rupp

    • Dave says:

      But yet people will find a way to blame Torts if they lose.

    • Walt says:

      You right on target, there are very few options for Torts. The line up as posted makes the most sense, but can Stepan step into Boyles shoes, and be a shut down forward?

      This is a live, or die game, and if the team has any chance to win, Dubi, Cally, AA, Step, collectivly must bust their gonads, and leave it all on the ice tonight! Prust will give us his all. Tonight if given a chance, Prust should smack down Neil every time you can and see if you can get under his skin.

      Go after Karlsson and make him pay every time he touches the puck. Hit, and hurt the wimp!!!!!

      • The Suit says:

        I could go either way with third line center. You can put Arty there and then put Step Kreider and Cally together. Only prob is that line might be a little suspect defensively. But at this point we’re splitting hairs.

    • Section 121 says:

      I would maybe try:

      Hagelin Richards Gabby
      AA Stepan Cally
      Rupp Dubi Prust
      Kreider Mitchell Feds

      Insert Kreider on the PP or in place of Rupp for a shift or two if Rupp is too slow or not effective. Definitely have to get Prust out there for regular shifts to wear down the Sens D.

      • The Suit says:

        I like it.

      • Zen says:

        Tell Cally to ask Gaborik what happens when you play with AA & Step in this series. You might as well give Cally one of those cloaks from Harry Potter, because he would sentenced to invisibility. You have to put Kreider up their and split up with guys who aren’t performing… as sad as that sounds.

        I do agree, though, that Mitchell and Feds need a major decrease in ice time.

      • Bobby G says:

        I like this too. I think they could use Kreider similar to the way they were using Zuc before he was injured.

  7. Chris F says:

    Dressing Scott accomplishes one thing: going after Neil. With 3 minutes of ice time, and his lack of skating ability, not much more can be expected. That’s not an option.

    I think Hags has to dress for the first line.

    Kreider should get time on the second line.

    Let Rupp, Prust and Bickel pick up the physicality and pound Neil, Spezza, Michalek and Karlsson.

    I want to see the Sens limping away from this game, win or lose.

    • Dave says:

      I would like to see Rupp on the ice more. He brings more to the lineup than most realize.

      • Chris F says:

        I’m happy with how he plays, given his role. And, he’s just as intimidating as Scott. The Rangers need to use him if they intend to play a physical, pounding style tonight.

        And, honestly, that’s the only way I see them winning tonight.

      • Zen says:

        I agree. Rupper should be getting 3rd line minutes in this game. He has played well in his limited ice time. As Torts stated yesterday, the people who play well will see minutes in this game, no matter who it is.

  8. Mike says:

    Tonight ”genius” has to really prove how good his stinky system is. He’ll have full 60 minutes plus possible overtime to mash all lines any way he wants. I’d love to see him fail.
    Regarding Rangers winning tonight, I think it’s only possible if they play tough physical hitting game generating a lot of forechecking out of it

    • VinceR says:

      “I’d love to see him fail.”

      Really man? C’mon, you’d rather see the Rangers lose because you dislike the coach? Who is your suggested replacement and what system would you like to see in place?

    • Dave says:

      You would love to see Torts fail? You’d love to see the rangers fail? Seriously?

    • Bobby G says:

      People still dislike Torts? I thought everyone was over that…

      • The Suit says:

        According to our latest poll only 5% of voters disapproved of him. I guess those 5% like to come out and troll every time we are on the brink.

  9. Rickyrants13 says:

    So lets see a coach who cant get his team to win faceoffs, Cant get his team to work even a simple powerplay, And cant motivate some of its best players. Should stay?????

    • VinceR says:

      Alright Ricky, we’ve heard this all season from you and that is your opinion so that’s fine. But who do you suggest that is available right now or that won’t be getting fired from another team for some other reason? At some point it is out of the coach’s hands.

      And please note any response involving a hockey player that doesn’t even play in the AHL any longer will fall on deaf ears.

    • Dave says:

      Can’t motivate his best players? Did you not watch 24/7?

    • Bobby G says:

      But I really like having a coach who holds all his players accountable, helped establish a team identity of hard work and dedication, and lead his team to first in the Eastern conference.

  10. HARLEMBLUES says:

    Dress go after Spezza not Neil.Neil didn’t go after Prust or Rupp.Dress Scott like i said after game one he’s value isn’t in the total minutes he plays. Neil and Carkner have given the Sens balls to move around freely.Mitchell and Feds should have been sitting and Eminger should continue to do what he’s been doing.If you want to move Bickel up play Erixon the future is now.Look at the Flyers in one year they have gotten younger more skilled and shed big BR like contracts. where is BR and he’s signed for what another 20 yrs.

  11. ncognito_13 says:

    The Rangers are in their usual position..almost done for the year. Torts should be fired as his system is as effective as he is in blueprinting suspensions. The Rangers should have played Scott games ago..as soon as Ottawa brought in their heavy hitters. But coach no mind stayed all season with a team that fails offensively. Play Scott, move Bickel up, sit Staal and play Emminger..and score some damn goals. Go after Ericsson and start a pier 6 brawl to set the game up. Might as well try that since their usual play has gotten them into this situation.

    • VinceR says:

      Yes, it’s the system. The system that put them within one point of the presidents trophy magically doesn’t work in the playoffs.

      And yes, Scott would solve the issues with scoring, speed, and puck pursuit/possession.

    • Bobby G says:

      Sit Staal, an all star defenseman, for Eminger, a borderline NHL who will definitely be rusty in an elimination game. That’s a horrible idea.

      • ncognito_13 says:

        Do you even watch Staal play? He is as much an All Star Dman as you are. He is the most overrated player in the league and yet most Rangers fans think he is great. just watch how he rarely takes the body, is usually out of position and cannot score. Oh yes..he is a great player. Lundqvuist was on Francesca’s show earlier in the season when Staal had returned and Mike said to Henrik that he must be glad that Staal was back. Lundqvuist ignored the question and moved on. Watch him play..and then tell me how much of an All Star he is..

        • Zen says:

          Stall is not the same player pre-concussion, but he is not horrible. He is fine and definitely better than awful Eminger. Sitting him is insanity.

          • ncognito_13 says:

            OK..I was being somewhat tongue in cheek about Staal..But he is the most overrated DMan on the Rangers. The Rangers have got to change what they have done in this series or they are done. Or is that something you Ranger fans cannot admit. The Rangers have scored 2 even strength goals in 4 games. The Rangers have no power play. The Rangers have a coach that is in total denial about his teams play. The Rangers have lost 4 of their last 5 home games. The Rangers, against playoff teams since the Feb 16 Chicago game have gone 8-12. Need I say more? The regular season is not the playoffs. The Rangers are in big trouble and they have ALWAYS HAD A HARD TIME WITH OTTAWA AND THIS GOALIE..ALWAYS. Ranger fans have got to become realistic about this team and they are in total denial. Sorry but I have been a Rangers fan for over 50 years and I am tired of the same crap year in and year out. They are just not that good and they are about to waste the great year of their great goaltender. They needed to get a goal scorer and they didn’t and now all Rangers fans will chew their finger nails off tonight. I for one am sick and tired of this same crap every season from this team..They play NMFE hockey and now they are paying for it..NO MARGIN FOR ERROR..More excuses and fewer results..that sums up the NY Rangers.

  12. Comnsnse says:

    When will Ranger fans come to the inescapable conclusion that? This roster is filled with what are known in sports as JAGS. “Just a guy”, or average and interchangeable parts,with no significant talent base. Hard working,one good goal scorer,one overpaid(see Sather’s retirement plan) complimentary player and one all around solid 2 liner who will likely not last much longer with his playing style. Three or four above average D who are technique D and of course this year’s version of an all world goalie. They continue to lack scoring balance,a legitimate power forward and a clear out D. This organization is and has been overhyped by both the media and the fans. They have limited prospects both literally and figuratively. Their forward prospects are smallish,exactly what they don’t need with the exception of Krieder. Their D prospects for the clear out guy are questionable,with McIllrath now in his third year with no sign he’s ready for the show. Junior Dolan has managed to screw up both the Knicks and the Rangers with his hires and meddling in trades with the Knicks. Sather is now an over 20 year failure and perhaps the least respected GM in the league. A 7th. round pot of gold is all that stands in the way a yearly lottery team!

    • ncognito_13 says:

      Bravo…excellent post indeed and 1000% spot on…

      • VinceR says:

        I don’t recall seeing either of you posting doomsday comments a week ago. That much has changed since then?

        • ncognito_13 says:

          I normally never post here. Fox Sports is where I post. And yes..that much has changed..the Rangers can be eliminated tonight..I would say that that makes things just a tad different and no Boyle..but nothing has changed..indeed.

          • VinceR says:

            Being a step from elimination all of a sudden makes the system bad and the players bunk? So if they win the next two, everything is cool again? I don’t see how a two game swing all of a sudden makes an entire season crap. Yes it is a major let down if they get knocked out first round, but go talk to the Pens and Canucks. And the Bruins were one goal away and now are facing a game 7.

            That’s my whole point. When the team was riding high, I was not seeing these complaints about the system/players, but when the chips are down, the I-Told-You-Sos always come out (even though they never told us so).

            And Fox Sports?…excellent hockey coverage there?

            • Bobby G says:

              This ^^^^

            • ncognito_13 says:

              Go the Rangers page on FOX sports and look for my comments about the Rangers ALL SEASON. And perhaps even a smart person such as yourself can learn something. The regular season means NOTHING in hockey..they don’t award the Stanley Cup there do they? It is you, the Ranger fan that backs the team regardless of their play and position that makes true hockey fans ill. And don’t be a snob about FOX Sports..there are a lot of Rangers fans there and we have great chats about the Rangers. It’s not all about your inflated site.. And yes as good coverage as this site. Get over yourself and your oooh so special site..LOL….

              • VinceR says:

                Point of order:

                It’s not my site, I’m not related to it. I just come here among other sites. Never even met anyone on this site.

                And yes, I stand behind the team. I also complain, but I don’t complain randomly just because things aren’t going well. I see too many fans who seem to relish when the Rangers play poorly because then they have an outlet for their anger. Feel free to state your opinions, also feel free to post what you think the solutions are to what you think are the organizations main problems.

                You are free to rant, but don’t be shocked when people don’t treat posts as a therapy session.

              • Dave says:

                It’s my site. I pay the bills on it. I run it with Justin, Chris, and Suit.

                If you have a problem with my “oooh so special site”, then let me know.

            • Mike says:

              It’s the second time I post here (you can find my post earlier today), but since Rangers fired Renny & gave Tortorella job as a head coach I was totally against it. Don’t get me wrong, but this guy is not even a decent coach. He’s full of himself and his stupid system, plays same style every game making absolutely no adjustments to different opponents, doesn’t know what power play and scoring is and on top of all he decides who to play and who to sit or send to the minors based on his personal relationship with the player but not on his performance.
              He was riding Rangers entire season like horses in playoff mode while all other teams were playing normal style hockey adjusting to the opposition and making comclusions out of their losses or failures. Now all playoff teams geared up and play in a playoff mode while Rangers got stuck playing their game. The reason is simple they can’t gear up to a playoff mode because they played whole season in it, so the players really don’t know and can’t elevate their game to a different level!!! And who’s responsible for this??? Ratface Egomamiac aka Jonn Tortorella.
              Even now after poor performance vs Ottawa he still likes how Rangers play and praises that.
              Any good (let’s not even say great) coach must know how to play his team right, how to adjust to different teams played and most of all how to treat his players right

              • Justin says:

                Mike, I understand your frustration, but what part of his system exactly don’t you approve of? I’ll leave the heavy lifting on the systems to the Suit, since that’s his bag, but in my experience watching Torts, his system is grounded in the fundamental details required to win hockey games: an aggressive forecheck, commitment to physical play, shot blocking and defense-first mentality.

                The power play is more of an issue of personnel than coaching style. Look at the impact Zuccarello had on the PP before he got hurt. Do you think they changed the whole scheme once he joined the unit? It was the injection of a skill player into the man-advantage.

                It’s absolutely up for debate whether or not having a team that exists perpetually in playoff mode is a good thing or no (the elevate your game for the playoffs argument v. the you should always play at the peak of your game argument), but I have no problem with the system the team plays, although it does need an infusion of skill.

    • Zen says:

      I completely disagree. This team is a star scorer away from being an elite team. They over-produced all year due to an excellent team system, but the lack of scoring depth is once again showing up in the playoffs. It is as simple as that.

      BTW- 70% of the teams in the league would die for our farm system. Every year, we have a new player (or 2) make this team and significantly contribute. I’m not sure what else you would be looking for, given that we never have a top 10 pick (to grab an elite player). The other 30% of those teams are so bad, that they have been drafting in the top 10 for years and can’t help to have a better system. In Gordie Clark we trust.

      • ncognito_13 says:

        Did you even read ALL of my posts? They over produced?? And tell me now where are they?? The regular season means nothing..last year 8th out in 5 games..This year 1st and possibly out in 6 games..Now that is a vast improvement isn’t it?? Ranger fans are as totally delusional as can be. 2 Cups in 72 years..they sure are the best..wow..Maybe you are related to Shorterella..he thinks they are playing good hockey..5 goals in 4 games..indeed.

        • VinceR says:

          So winning only two cups in a 72 year period is to blame on a coach/system that has been here for 3?

          I’m reading all of your posts, but they are all over the place thought-wise man. And also you rarely post here.

          I get you’re upset, but what exactly is your solution to what you perceive as organizational problems? And if it’s an issue you see over a 72 year period, you can’t just fire the current coach to solve it.

      • ncognito_13 says:

        And I guarantee when they had the chance to get Nash at the deadline you were against it. Because they would have had to give up too much. To get you need to give unless your the Rangers..LOL…And Nash would have made a difference to this weak scoring team…

        • VinceR says:

          I told myself I was done with this thread, but this Dave Lozo tweet was just too damn good not to insert here:

          Career playoff stats: Rick Nash, 1 goal in 4 games. Chris Kreider, 1 goal in 4 games.

    • Dave says:

      To an extent you are right. They are an elite scorer away from being perenniel contenders, which is what they hope they have in Kreider.

      Also true that they are missing a big banger on defense, but Sauer is out with a concussion. Not much they can do there.

      However, I do not agree with the “just another guy” mentality you throw around. Role players are a necessity to the team. There weren’t many complaints when guys like Step/MDZ/Dubi were producing.

      • Jay h says:

        Well to be fair people have complained about MDZ constantly for the last two or so years. He could average a hat trick and people would complain.

        • Dave says:

          Heh, this is true. I’ve been a big MDZ guy for a while, but he’s struggling offensively this series…as is everyone.

  13. Nicholas Franco says:

    I think its pretty obvious you dress Hags and Eminger and you sit Mitchell.

    Scott? Yeah, the idea of kicking the shit out of Neil is great; but not with Scott. He’s way too much of a liability. Speed and skill will win this series; slow-as-molasses skaters will lose it.

    Send Bickel after Neil if you feel retribution is best dished out tonight. While I’m normally all about revenge, I don’t think you seek it out at the expense of winning.

    If we somehow have a nice fat lead late in the third period though……then all bets are off.

    • ncognito_13 says:

      How many times have Rangers fans been in this position in playoffs? Answer..all too often. They score the first goal tonight or they are done. And yes if they are leading by a lot in the last minute..go after Neal and show him what cheap shot hockey is all about. Bet they won’t do it?? And if they are losing and the game is out of reach..DO THE SAME AND TEACH HIM A LESSON..Bet they won’t do it?? All you want.They will lose and shake hands with Ottawa like the good sports they are..LOL..aka..LOSERS

      • Bobby G says:

        If the Rangers win the next two will you still be crying?

        Jeez, have some hope and get off the god damn ledge.

        • VinceR says:

          Seriously ncognito if you’ve been a fan for 50 years I’d expect you to handle this much better, for a variety of reasons.

          No need to become unhinged. If they don’t pull this off I will be screaming at my tv during the game and my neighbors will think I’m crazy. If they don’t pull this off, I will be in a funk for days, and be depressed that I need to wait until late september for pre-season, but man there is life to be lived. No reason to lose it.

        • ncognito_13 says:

          Crying ?? Where?? I have hope. I also have a mind that tells me exactly what I have seen all season with this team Without the King they would have never made the playoffs.They just don’t score enough and that’s the view from my ledge..LOL..They have to win tonight first..don’t get ahead of yourself. Need 1 first. Then you can concern yourself about Thurs..

          • Walt says:

            Hay guy, go back to Fox Sports and post there. We are civil around here, but you insist on being a horses patoot!! We get the point that your unhappy, please don’t be a downer with the rest of us. We all care about our team, see it’s short comings, but we still believe. If that is asking too much, please leave!

      • Dave says:

        The best revenge is winning in seven. Getting retribution on Neil and giving the Sens a 5 min PP is not the way to go in an elimination game.

  14. Justin says:

    ncognito, your complaints about the team, while your point of view (and thus inherently valid) are ridiculously over-simplistic. You can’t make a statement like “their system doesn’t produce in the playoffs, playoff hockey is different than regular season hockey” etc, with no analysis or context, and expect other commenters to respect your opinion or delivery of it.

    It honestly kind of borders on random inflammatory trolling. If you have negative opinions of the team, coach, organizational philosophy, that’s fine, but around here we prioritize analysis and thoughtful discussion. If you possess a contrarian attitude to the general consensus, be prepared to back it up with something other than “they haven’t won a cup in _____, which has no bearing on the current team, staff or front office.

    • rangersalterego says:

      I think the team is built the right way and plays the right way, but they lack the elite scorer that you need in playoff hockey when you need to score goals. Gabby isn’t the answer, he disappears if you smack him around a few times. Richards was never supposed to be the answer, he’s a facilitator and leader. Kreider can become that guy, but he’s not supposed to be an elite scorer either, he’s more of a big power forward who is fast as hell and can score goals.

  15. Torts Hater says:

    Hey first time, long time. I’ve been sittin on my fat ass watching the Rangaz for 89 years and let me tell youz Torts sucks. No effing chemistry cuz of stupid line tinkering argh, his systems don’t make no sense argh. Avery I miss you. MDZ sucks, but I cant splain why cuz I aint never played hockey befour…bephor, befor? whatevs

    Time to troll other sites.

  16. Steve D says:

    The Rangers will win tonight – and all will be good. I hope…