Nov
11

Rangers shuffle lines and pairings for Western Canada trip

November 11, 2016, by
brady skjei

Bruce Bennet/Getty Images

A bit late on this, but the Rangers shuffled their lines yesterday at practice. Perhaps more important is they shuffled the defense pairings as well:

Pavel Buchnevich-Mika Zibanejad-Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
Jimmy Vesey-Kevin Hayes-J.T. Miller
Michael Grabner-Brandon Pirri-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Brady Skjei
Nick Holden-Kevin Klein

The forward lines will change all year, such is life in the NHL. However the shift in the defense pairings represents something slightly more important. Brady Skjei has been the Rangers second best defenseman this season, and has been moved to the top-four. Nick Holden –who has been pretty bad so far– and Kevin Klein –who has been sneaky bad so far– are now the bottom pairing.

"Rangers shuffle lines and pairings for Western Canada trip", 2 out of 5 based on 3 ratings.
Categories : Lineup Changes

59 comments

  1. pas44 says:

    Hi Dave,

    Some Islander Pud here at work just told me he read that Krieder has been reported as saying he is now upset at AV for being benched…

    is this true?

    OY VEY!

    • Egelstein says:

      I’m not sure it’s fair to say how upset Kreider is. Here was his exact quote to the Post:

      “I think a couple of games I’ve been fine and a couple of games I haven’t been, and that’s just not good enough. But I think that when you’re working hard and doing the correct things in the defensive zone, but maybe the flow isn’t quite there offensively, it would be nice to be able to get the opportunity to work through that.”

      So, he didn’t say “I’m upset” nor was it anything over the top. In my eyes, he politely indicated it would be nice to be given a chance to work through it. As he is a veteran and probably feels a bit more comfortable speaking openly, I don’t see this as a huge thing.

      Larry Brooks however felt it appropriate to give this interaction the headline “Chris Kreider miffed at Rangers coach over quick benchings”.

      • paulronty says:

        His last line says it all–read between the lines. He’s saying it would be nice to work through it (INSTEAD OF BEING BENCHED). Sometiomes it’s what is implied that is important.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          Much ado about nothing

        • Chris A says:

          Get over it is my answer. There is too much talent on this team now for someone to work through a slump. If you’re having a poor game, there are players on the 4th line more than capable to step into that place.

          Fighting for places in the lineup is going to keep the Rangers sharp all season.

        • Chris72 says:

          Why am I not surprised at your take on it Paul. You dislike AV so much that you would say anything to see him lose the locker room and ultimately the job. Your praise of Florida Head Coach, Gerard Gallant, was interesting as well. I’m just curious, how many Panthers games have you watched in the last 2 years? Or maybe you were a big fan of his when he coached Columbus to the tune of 56-76, never making the playoffs and ultimately getting canned. Or maybe it was his first year with Florida when they finished 6th in the Atlantic, again missing the Playoffs. Maybe last season when Florida got their tits lit by the Islanders in the first round after winning the Atlantic.

          Everyone has their opinion but when you said, “I can’t wait for McIlrath to knock Stepan on his ass”, it shows exactly what kind of “Ranger Fan” you are. I’ve never seen so much negativity after a 10-4 start. Or maybe it’s the fact that the Rangers got to 10-4 without your boy in the lineup. Well now that he’s in Florida under the tutelage of your favorite coach, when your McIlrath Panthers jersey arrives, wear it in good health and start posting on one of the many Panthers blogs. I’m sure they’ll be happy to hear you bash AV, Stepan and every other Ranger who doesn’t meet your standards.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            Well said Chris (both of you!). It’s truly amazing but sadly not surprising. And the irony of course is that if Paul’s idols, Keenan and Torts, had benched Kreider, he’d be applauding them for such a decision.

            The reality is, AV has had Kreider’s back pretty much from day one (unlike Torts, who incredibly sent the kid to the AHL despite the fact that it was arguably Kreider who’s play kept the Rangers from being swept in the first round and likely saved Torts’s job, but I digress). Even throughout all the incosnsitencies in Kreider’s game, he’s stuck with him. Kreider isn’t wet behind the ears anymore. Much more is expected from him, and it is essential that he finally emerges as a star if the Rangers are to turn a potentially great season into a championship season.

            And you are absolutely right, the Rangers have the luxury to bench just about any forward given the depth they now have.

            Very happy to see AV do that. Good sign. Now let’s see how our would be “star” responds.

  2. Chris F says:

    I actually really like those forward combinations.

    After three consecutive subpar performances, I’m fine with shaking things up and I see no glaring issues with these combos.

    On another note, 3 days off after the election is terribly timed. I’m dying over here, in need of something to look forward to.

    • pas44 says:

      really, I have made popcorn every night and watched the news stations, its hilarious, both sides, all of it, its like reality drama, comedy, world news, cartoons & a seriously sad look at the future all at the same time…

      🙂

      OY !!!

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        All I can tell you is, being part of the coverage, I kept thinking of Jerry Garcia, who would have said about this election when it was over, “What a long, strange trip it’s been”! 🙂

  3. paulronty says:

    Line juggling & defence juggling should not surprise anyone as this is AVs MO, he did it all last year and he will do it all this year too. You could see how angry he was in the presser after the Canucks game, and when AV is pissed, watch out, somebody will pay. He’s already pissed Kreider off& maybe Vesey is wishing he signed somewhere else. Klein is down on the third pair now, getting less minutes, so I bet he’s not happy either. But these guys are professionals, so they are not going to make a big stink. This is the kind of stuff which surreptitiously eats away the locker room & AV, not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, is probably oblivious to it. The question in my mind is whether Gorton is oblivious to what goes on. Still a long way to go yet, but it will be interesting to watch how this team(which I’ll say is excellent) evolves. One thing for sure Jesper Fast will play, no matter what, because AV is apparently a big fan of Quickies.

    • pas44 says:

      is that true, Vesey too!

      Why, oh noooooooo

      this is not good to hear!

      • Chris72 says:

        It is absolutely not true pas44. This is Ranger Propaganda from a hater.

        I heard Billy Buttnutt of the Broadway Bulletin report that Rick Nash planted a car bomb under AV’s Range Rover……………. See how easy it is to post nonsense

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          I had to double check because I’ve been so busy. How long is our losing streak? Oh right, we’ve lost one in a row. The coach is losing the room for sure.

          So let me get this straight. Last year Paul complains that AV is too nice and boring, like the coaching version of Perry Como, and wishes he were more like the more unhinged types he prefers like Kenan and Torts. This year, AV benches Kreider and Vesey for a FEW SHIFTS on a team with deep forwards. Paul’s response–He’s losing the room. Seriously? Heaven forbid…..AV pissed Kreider off. Oh no! How will he recover from being benched for a few shifts? What a terrible terrible thing AV did!

          You nailed it Chris. Paul is still smarting from the fact that his boy Torts actually DID lose the room as Rangers coach (and then the following year in Vancouver, but I digress). It’s been hard for him to handle that AV built on Torts’s mostly mediocre Rangers teams and coach them up into one of the most succesful three year runs in Rangers history. So he’s going to find any nugget he can and twist reality to make his point.

          I have a feeling Paul has never been in an NHL dressing room or interacted with players before. These guys are pretty resilient. In fact, it’s been reported that this group is pretty tight and real close knit, even with so many new faces. But with a strong record and so many pundits looking at the Rangers as THE story right now in the NHL, the haters have to take a small something and blow it out of proportion just to justify their flawed premise.

          What Paul fails to mention of course is that most coaches in the NHL juggles lines and pairings, especially early in the season. A good coach wants to try different combinations and get a better sense of the strengths and weaknesses of his squad. But somehow it’s a cause for alarm when AV does it.

          Keenan, Paul’s idol, benched Messier, Leetch and Richter. His other idol Torts benched Richards and Kreider. Paul had no issue as I understand it with those moves but when AV does something similar, he’s losing the room. In my world of journalism, Paul would be considered a man with an agenda, saying anything and connecting the dots in whatever way is needed to support a flawed point.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Paul, with all due respect, it’s a coaches job to make adjustments. Your disdain for AV is largely uncalled for given the circumstances. I get that he ‘made his bed with you’ in previous years, but given the minor tweaks to the line up- which are completely reasonable- you’re plain over reacting. Kreider is not nearly as butt-hurt as you’re making him out to be. He’s competitive, wants to play and subtly suggested that in the quote as 95% of the players across the league would have. That’s it and that’s all. Brooks made a big to-do about it because that’s what he does.

      In any event, given our line up it will and should change throughout the year. Who knows what magic you might find by plugging in players in various places. 2 good things I see here- the 4th line is what people have been asking for all year (sans Lindberg) and Buch is back up playing with Mika, and off the ‘4th’ line.

      • paulronty says:

        Listen man, with all due respect, you can refrain from telling me how to think & an analyze situations in any way that I want. I see the situation much differently than you, which does not mean it’s “uncalled for”. so let’s leave it at that.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          I’m just calling you out for commenting on ‘anything AV’ with a sullied lens. Your biased against him and it influences every assessment you have on him. It’s fine if you don’t like the guy, but that doesn’t mean everything about him is evil and every decision he makes is wrong.

          • paulronty says:

            Call me out all you want, it won’t stop me from saying what I want to say. Are you the BSB police?

          • paulronty says:

            Of course, I’m “biased” against him, just like you’re “biased” for him. There is nothing wrong with bias, it means taking a position. And if I want to say he’s a lousy coach, I’ll do so without asking for your permission. Got it?

            • Hatrick Swayze says:

              No permission necessary, Paul. Keep doing you.

            • Chris72 says:

              And it is our right to keep calling you out on your blatant nonsense. Other than being incredibly repetitive and factually incorrect, every post with your name attached to it screams “Flyers Fan” or ________ (insert any other team besides the Rangers) fan.

      • paulronty says:

        Oh, & did you talk to Chris personally to make that assertion? If so, please inform us all.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          Yes, in fact, it was my pool which he was able to frog jump out of while standing waist deep in water.

          • joe719 says:

            Please guys, is this what life is going to be like under a Trump Presidency? “Can’t we all just get along?” (;

            • paulronty says:

              LOL!! I’m a Canadian, so I don’t have to live under Trump, THANK GOD!!!

              • joe719 says:

                We ALL have to live under Trump—you’ll see, there’s just not gonna’ be any way around it.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Funny you mention that Paul. Being out on the trail and getting a chance to interview Trump and his surrogates, every time I heard the guy speak I thought of you. Of all the BSB posters, you are most like Trump. Don’t like the narrative…..then kill the messengers!!!!!!! 🙂

        • Chris72 says:

          Did u speak to Kreider, Vesey and Klein? Did you speak AV? It’s your assertion he hates Lindberg. I suppose you have Yandle on speed dial as well when you asserted he loved playing with McIlrath and that was one of the reasons Florida traded for him.

          You’re a funny dude!

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Based on prior conversations, it appears to me Paul hates journalists. Whenever someone makes a point he doesn’t agree with by referencing a story written by someone on the beat, he discredits the poster and the source. But if the opposite happens and one writes a column that he agrees with like Brooks’s story, then he’s all over it. Again, a man with an agenda.

        Anyone with any knowledge of the press, especially the NY Post, knows that it’s the job of a columnist to find some juicy nugget and then write about it, and then, it’s the job of the headline writer to possibly exaggerate it. The more you can push the envelope, the better. That’s what gets people to read a story. So while informative for sure, you do have to take these things with a grain of salt, especially when it’s just one source reporting it.

    • Bloomer says:

      I have always said AV is a good coach, but not a great coach. The thing that sticks in my craw about him the most is how he uses players as his whipping boys. He did it in Vancouver and now in New York. Benching a player is one thing, putting a player in the doghouse for the following games is demoralizing. In fact if it wasn’t for Buek fixing the defence and Gorton shoring up the team with talent, AV would be looking for work right now. PS I think AV is dating Quickies mum.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        Bloomer, I don’t get the narrative. How is AV any different than any other coach? Are you saying he should NOT bench a player when they aren’t performing up to expectations? How is sitting Kreider for a few shifts making him a “whipping boy”? This is AV’s fourth season with Kreider. Has he made him the “whipping boy” before, even though Kreider has been incredibly inconsistent as a player for much of his career? So he benches him now and suddenly, AV is scapegoating him?

        This isn’t football, basketball or even baseball where you can sit multiple players to make a point. The cap limits roster sizes and call ups. You can only sit one or two players at most.

        So let me get this straight. The good things happening on defense, that’s all Beuke? It’s being done is spite of AV. Who’s making the offense go? That’s probably the players in spite of AV. And Gorton got all the players which is true, but AV is blamed for any perceived bad personnel move.

        Makes perfect sense.

        Rangers players record this season….10-0-0
        AV’s record….0-4-0.

      • Ranger11 says:

        Everyone complained about JT and Kreider being benched and sent down to the AHL but they’ve become real good hockey players so it can’t be too demoralizing

  4. pas44 says:

    Repeal and Replace Vigneault-No-Care!

  5. Ranger11 says:

    Relax man. It happens to all teams. It’s early and he’s trying different lines. Big deal. I don’t think Buchnivech was crying when he got moved down to the 4th line for a while. All he did was get back to work and now he’s at the top. I think it’s great that we have enough skilled guys to be able to make changes and still have solid lines all the way through. AV knows what’s going on with his guys. Remember when someone gets moved down it means someone else got moved up. He can’t be worrying about who may be crying about something. They know the drill. Work hard and good things happen. As far as Kreider goes he doesn’t look like he looked in the first week. When he’s working hard you can’t miss him. He don’t have to score to know he’s going hard to the net and being strong on the boards. He looks like he took his normal Kreider time off where he’s just hanging around not doing good or bad. You watch him wake up all of a sudden now. The 3 days off is a big help too for everyone

    • Chris72 says:

      EXCELLENT POST RANGER11!!! Perfectly Put! These are players getting paid a SHITLOAD of money to play the game the way the coach deems effective. If the players don’t like it, they should consider coaching instead. Produce or Reduce! Produce the type of team game that is expected or have your role reduced so the players who are willing to contribute a “complete” game can be given more ice time. Sounds pretty simple to me. I’m a huge Kreider fan but his tendency to take shifts off is frustrating and unacceptable. If he approached every shift the way Zucc does, this would not be an issue. But he doesn’t.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Ranger 11, how dare you make sense like that?! According to Paul, AV was ruining Buch by playing him on the 4th line. How many games was he there, three? His line was 3-2-5 and now he’s being promoted. Yep, AV just hates the kids and sure is messing with his mind. 🙂

  6. DAVID k says:

    Competition for playing time is always a good thing leaving Girardi in the lineup not so good. They shuffle lines around not a big deal it is a long season so get used to it. They are playing so much better in their own end not leaving the front of the net wide opened- Relax

  7. Egelstein says:

    I’m personally a big fan of the KZB line. They just looked so impressive early on and had an excitement level that I felt was through the roof to watch as a fan. With that said…Kreids-Step-Nash also could be a line capable of sheer dominance. While it may curb Kreider’s speed more than we wish, that’s two power forwards and a center who doesn’t always get the playmaking credit he deserves. Step is well into first-line performance territory when it comes to his FirstA/60 rank. If they can click, I think there is potential for that to be a very nice “blue collar” line with Nash and Kreids doing good work in the slot, and Step using his playmaking to get the puck to them when the time strikes.

    So, while I myself am not the biggest AV fan and have bemoaned his constant tinkering in the past…he really does in a way have so much depth here that I hope that his tinkering can’t go wrong. And frankly, Fast on the fourth line is the only true lock I see in this group. I won’t be mad at AV for his tinkering for now unless/until he consistently keeps going with lines that clearly don’t work, or he gets cute trying to inject Fast into the top six again.

    • paulronty says:

      But what everyone forgets is that it was AV who said last year that he wanted to get lines set early, so he didn’t tinker all the time & then went ahead & tinkered all year. And now he’s tinkering again, because he says one thing & does another? Did Pitt tinker with their lines all year, last year?

      • Dave says:

        If you live and die by the line combinations, you’re in for a long season.

      • Egelstein says:

        Honestly I don’t follow PIT that close to be able to say with much authority exactly how prolific their tinkering was start to finish last season. I know when Sullivan came in, some things changed. And when Hags came in some things changed. But, of course that’s bound to happen when coaches and/or impact guys are brought in mid-season.

        I will note however that I was not at all pleased with AV’s extended tinkering last year, either. Last year’s tinkering gave me many more “WHAT are you doing?!?!” moments, even early on. It’s also early this year and I don’t know as I’ll still be pleased if the tinkering goes on that long again. I’m a little patient… but I prefer to see tinkering (unless necessitated by injury of course) pretty much done by the time January hits, for sure.

        • paulronty says:

          Agreed, everytime there is a bad game AV overeacts by benching people & switching things around because he’s always operating in desperation mode. He can’t leave well enough alone.

          • Chris72 says:

            Well Enough??? When did you ever refer to the Rangers performance as well enough? When you say “well enough”, obviously you mean the lineup paulronty thinks works well enough. McIlrath 3rd pairing for starters. THIS TEAM IS 10-4 and STILL NOT WELL ENOUGH ACCORDING TO YOU.

            Now that McIlrath is gone, you can be honest with us……………. you’re his agent right?

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            And Torts and Keenan, they never reacted after a bad loss. They were calm, even keeled types who had nothing but positive things to say at all times.

            • Reenavipul says:

              Not exactly the best coaches to bring up.

              You only cuss them out on lack of effort, you C&A’s handle internal things otherwise.

              Coach em up, get them ready, limit what you give them to process.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                He didn’t cuss them out. He simply sat them for a few shifts. Really not a big deal.

              • Reenavipul says:

                Where did I write that AV. Used anybody out?

                I wrote in regard to how any coach should behave.

      • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

        No need to tinker if your Pitt when you are healthy, playing well, and immensely takented. The Rangers were none of those things for enough of the time last year. Not a valid correlation.

        • Reenavipul says:

          This time last year, the Rangers were 12-4.

          • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

            True, and certainly a cautionary tale there. But last year’s team was very different in terms of depth, overall talent, health, and style. At this time last year, it was Hank, Zuc and Oscar carrying the load. All the metrics pointed to an adjustment which unfortunately came.

            This team will slump at some point and when they do, all the haters will come out in full force. But it’s evident that this team is better suited to play an exciting brand of hockey. I’m not saying they are legit SC contenders yet, but the early signs are at least promising.

  8. jdon says:

    I prefer Chris Pavel MIka. That line was successful. It never failed or went out of sync. It was broken up by injury. So I do not get it. Kreider is too fast for Stepan

  9. Ranger11 says:

    Just cause AV said he wanted the lines set early doesn’t mean it’s gonna happen in the first month even. What we want doesn’t always happen as fast as we want. With all the talent on this team the competition should keep these guys going. For every guy moved down is another guy moved up. There’s gotta be several good combinations they can use. lots of players go into slumps but at least we have plenty of talent to step in and take over. Besides Kreider n Step had success together before n Nash as well. I think they’re gonna come out flying on this road trip and hopefully this will get Kreider going again cause so far he’s doing what he’s always done which is look like a beast for a week or two and then look average. He can’t expect to play average and stay on the top line with all the talent we have this year. There’s plenty of guys that can play on the top lines or any lines for that matter.

    • Chris72 says:

      I’m wit ya 100% on everything you said. You have to adjust to what each player is giving you (or not giving you). A lack of effort by one player affects the entire line and their ability to produce. You can’t watch it shift after shift and not acknowledge the culprit and ultimately address the issue. We don’t know what goes on in the room, what is said and what is asked. Ultimately we just have to trust the coach has a good pulse on his players and so far the 10-4 start indicates AV is pressing all the right buttons.

      • Reenavipul says:

        Except it was three subpar games in a row; how about running out the line combos from the 1st two weeks while tweaking the D pairs, which were obviously the issue.

        Changing everything at once is bad for chemistry, bad for results. You’re supposed to be hiding your flaws, not magnifying them.

      • Ranger11 says:

        I know what you mean. Fans think they know what goes on behind the scenes but we don’t anything really. It cracks me up sometimes when I see fans complaining about a line change but meanwhile he’s made changes all along and we’re winning. We lost 4 games and shoulda won 2’of them. I’m with you. I trust that the coach knows what he’s doing. Now of course he can’t be right all the time but I’m pretty sure he knows the team better then us.

  10. DAVID k says:

    I am just wondering how he is going to protect the weakest link on the road since he doesn’t have last line change? We all know Girardi will be doing his snow angels and now we can see how many times he will be on the ice for goals against. We should start a pool foe snow angels on this road trip.

  11. Ranger11 says:

    Boy AV must really not know his team. They’ve only scored 4 goals these two periods with the line changes. 3 goals from guys that were moved too.