Game 26 Preview: Rangers at WinnipegMarch 14, 2013, by
The last time the Rangers faced the Jets, they were on the losing end of a 4-3 score that signified when the Rangers started to turn the season around. It was that Ryan Callahan shift where he lost his stick, blocked a shot, hit someone, then blocked another shot, where the Rangers started seeing what they need to do to win. Following that loss to the Jets, the Rangers have gone 5-2, while the Jets have gone 4-2-1.
Both teams are tied with 28 points, but the Rangers have a game in hand, which is why they sit as the #8 seed and the Jets sit at #9 and out of the playoffs. The Jets may be overachieving (-8 goal differential), but the fact remains that this game has serious playoff implications. Should the Jets win, they will pass the Rangers in the standings and hold the second tiebreaker (after regulation/OT wins) over the Rangers.
Claude Noel has the Jets playing a passive 1-2-2 forecheck. Their game plan is to sick back in the neutral zone and score off of transition rushes. This really isn’t a team that is going to press the issue with an aggressive forecheck and heavy hitting below the goal line like the Blueshirts. They only really come after in certain game situations.
Winnipeg also plays a low zone collapse in their own end zone, but they tend to over commit on the puck carrier and often get burned in the process. The Jets team defense is shoddy and their goaltending is mediocre, so this should be an opportunity for the Rangers to light the lamp early and often. But as we’ve seen, bad goaltending hasn’t been an advantage (see Tuesday’s game).
On special teams, the Jets run an umbrella powerplay strategy and a simple box penalty kill. They do not challenge the points on the PK, which should give the Rangers’ new look powerplay some room to maneuver. With that said, most penalty kills alter based on the powerplay they are facing.
For more on Tortorella’s systems read here.
2012-2013 Records: Winnipeg (13-11-2), Rangers (13-10-2)
NYR Goaltender: Henrik Lundqvist (21 GP, 2.28 GAA, .919 SV%)
WPG Goaltender: Ondrej Pavelec (23 GP, 2.78 GAA, .903 SV%)
Broadcast Info: MSG, 8pm
Torts post-game interview from Tuesday: