Dec
29

Game 38: Vinny Lettieri’s debut

December 29, 2017, by

Credit: AP / Paul Sancya)

After a much better performance against Washington on Wednesday, the Rangers are in Detroit to try to build on that win. The biggest change in that game was the improved play at their own blue line. The Rangers stood up and didn’t allow controlled zone entries. That stymied the Caps’ high powered offense.

The other big change was the controlled exits once they had the puck. The Caps weren’t playing aggressively, so the Rangers didn’t have to constantly flip the puck out of the DZ and hope their forwards chased it down. That’s the type of hockey the Rangers are going to need to play to be successful. Luckily Detroit isn’t that good, so they have another game to practice it.

Red Wings Systems

For those that don’t follow Prashanth Iyer, you should. He does a great job breaking down everything Detroit.

The Wings run a 1-2-2 forecheck, which is fairly standard. But Blashill is very aggressive, and encourages the first defenseman to get involved at the blue line, instead of the red line. That means more pressure on the Rangers blue liners to make proper decisions with the puck. The Rangers deploy a similar forecheck, but are less aggressive with their defensemen, preferring to pressure at the red line, instead of the blue line. The risk of Blashill’s scheme is that quick passing can lead to odd-man rushes with that aggressive defenseman.

In the defensive zone, the Wings play a hybrid overload/low zone collapse. They overload the strong side, much like the Rangers. When the puck gets below the goal line, the forwards collapse into low zone coverage. That’s where the Rangers differ, as they switch to man coverage when the puck gets below the goal line. Although it was admittedly hard to see what kind of scheme the Rangers ran early in the year, they’ve been significantly better at their switches lately.

The Wings run a variety of breakouts, all detailed here. This is common for a lot of teams, and the way Prashanth breaks it down is very relevant, as the Rangers play a 1-2-2 forecheck. The Rangers have had a strong forecheck the last few games, so expect them to pressure those first two passes on the breakouts. For more breakout plays, see this post from Suit.

On special teams, the Wings run a 1-3-1 powerplay. This has been standard for multiple teams since the Bolts started using it a few years ago. The Wings don’t have that one sniper they try to feed, so they rely on quick passes to breakdown the penalty kill. Considering how amazing the Rangers’ PK has been, the best bet is to stay out of the box.

On the PK, the Wings are one of the few teams that don’t run some form of hybrid system.They run a straight wedge+1, which is similar to the diamond force the Rangers use. Both have a “roamer” designed to force the play, while the remaining three defenders take out the high percentage shots. The difference is that the Wings will only use their forwards as the “+1” whereas the Rangers will rotate out based on puck location, including defensemen. The wedge is simpler to execute and more conservative, but the diamond force creates more turnovers.

For more on these systems, check out our Hockey Systems page.

Red Wings Lines

Gustav Nyquist-Henrik Zetterberg-Tyler Bertuzzi
Tomas Tatar-Dylan Larkin-Anthony Mantha
Darren Helm-Frans Nielsen-Justin Abdelkader
David Booth-Andreas Athanasiou-Martin Frk

Jonathan Ericsson-Trevor Daley
Dany Dekeyser-Mike Green
Nicklas Kronwall-Nick Jensen

PP1: Tatar-Zetterberg-Nyquist-Abdelkader-Kronwall
PP2: Athanasiou-Larkin-Nielsen-Mantha-Green

Jimmy Howard gets the start.

Rangers Lines

Rick NashMika ZibanejadMats Zuccarello
Pavel Buchnevich-David DesharnaisJimmy Vesey
Michael GrabnerKevin HayesJT Miller
Paul CareyBoo Nieves-Vinny Lettieri

Ryan McDonaghNick Holden
Brady SkjeiKevin Shattenkirk
Marc StaalBrendan Smith

PP1: Nash-Zuccarello-Zibanejad-Buchnevich-Shattenkirk
PP2: Desharnais-Miller-Vesey-Hayes-McDonagh

Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.

Scratches/Injuries: Steven Kampfer (healthy), Jesper Fast (quad), Chris Kreider (blood clot)

Crazy Prediction: Lettieri scores in his debut.

Game time is 7pm. Be sure to follow on Twitter for gifs, and on our Snapchat for in-game.

"Game 38: Vinny Lettieri's debut", 5 out of 5 based on 2 ratings.
Categories : Game Thread

27 comments

  1. tanto says:

    Crazier Prediction: Lettieri gets 15:30 ice time.

  2. JERRY MALEY says:

    AND ANOTHER PREDICTION…THE GAME WILL START AT 7:40

  3. Bloomer says:

    Not so crazy prediction…a shutout for Henk.

  4. Stevem says:

    Two consecutive games with sub par ice.. just win this period, take the points and get ready for the classic.. my prediction for this 3rd period… Athanasiou’s eyebrows finally turn into butterflies

  5. Buch Nieves says:

    Nail biting end of regulation with penalty calls and non calls. A point on the road and a chance to get another.

    • Bloomer says:

      Rangers get the loser point off a good road effort. PK continues to impress..Lettieri scores in his debut. Jimmy Howard out dueling Lundqvist in the goalie battle.

  6. Stevem says:

    WHY SHATTY!!!! WHHHYYYYYY????

  7. wwpd says:

    not crazy about these “X team isn’t good” comments. unless it’s the rangers then fire away 🙂

  8. Leatherneck says:

    At least they got a point….awful turnover by boo

    • Bloomer says:

      It was a bad turnaround but did everyone have to exit the zone including both dmen? Perhaps someone could hang back for puck support and given Boo an easy pass option. Even Joe Montana couldn’t threat that needle.

  9. Richter1994 says:

    Guess Vinnie is ready.

    • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

      Yes. A tribute to Rangers management for not rushing him and giving him the development time he obviously needed in Hartford. 🙂

      Seriously, I’m happy for your boy. Hopefully the start of something. We will see. But keep in mind the 4th line last night giveth on the Lettieri goal but taketh away on the two Detroit goals as well. I think they might miss Buch on the 4th line more than you care to admit. 🙂

      • Richter1994 says:

        In all seriousness, the kid looked great, even forgetting about the goal he scored, he showed that he knows how to play the game.

        The game tying goal was 100% on Boo.

        There is no scenario that justifies Buch being on the 4th line. None.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          Great? Seems like a bit of an overstatement, especially considering how many times I’ve heard you say that you can’t always tell these things on TV. AV didn’t seem particularly thrilled with the overall play of the 4th line, and Lettieri was on that line.

          He was good. For his debut, very good. But way, way too soon to draw any conclusions about what this means for him and the team going forward.

          As for Buch, regardless of the line he is on, he needs to be better. He got plenty of minutes last night and he continues to be a relative non-factor. At a certain point, that’s on the player, is it not?

          • Richter1994 says:

            Your coach put him on the PP his first NHL game!! lol

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              True. Shows how desperate the team is to get something going there. RH shot. He scored 6 of his goals in Hartford on the PP, so it makes sense.

              But wait….AV giving a kid a chance like that in his first game?! What?! The coach who supposedly won’t give young players a fair chance? It’s a mad, mad, mad world!

      • Richter1994 says:

        Again, you “assume” that the route they went was the correct one because of the result, as opposed to getting these results earlier if they had not been so ignorant in their decision making.

        You say waiting was correct because Lettieri looked good in his first NHL game in December and I say that you would have seen this in October.

        • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

          Again….it’s one game.

          And again, there is never a downside being cautious with prospects. He got valuable experience playing regularly in Hartford and gaining confidence. What possible negative is there to that approach?

          And again, this isn’t McDavid or Matthews we are talking about here. He was an UNDRAFTED free agent, which means NOBODY inititally wanted him. So he was at best a late bloomer, right? Wouldn’t it be logical for any organization to be cautious with a guy like that?

          Then he shined in his senior year, everyone suddenly wanted him, and he had his choice of where to go. So why would he sign with the Rangers if their reputation was such that they don’t give young players a fair chance? How was that an “ignorant” approach? Carey and DD have done a nice job in their role. The 4th line has been pretty effective thus far. The Rangers have been winning a lot since Halloween. So how would the player or the team be further along at this point? Indeed, you can much more easily argue that the reverse would be true.

          Lastly, I have abundant respect for your passion and knowledge—as a fan, But where you and others start to lose me is when you position yourself as more knowledgeable than the folks who run the show. Literally a year ago, you said, and I quote, “In Gorton we Trust”. Chris Drury is so highly thought of that the Sabres wanted to consider him for their GM job. So you are basically saying that both of these guys, Gorton and Drury, can’t be trusted here and totally mishandled the Lettieri situation, based on the small snippets of action you saw in pre-season? Seriously? (Talk about bipolar here!) I’d be careful with the “eye test” my friend. As I recall, those eyes of yours betrayed you big time on your evaluation last year of Clendening vs Girardi, and we know how that all worked out.

          I get it that the pros aren’t always right. Player evaluation is not easy and they all make mistakes. But there is nothing in the track record of Gorton, Drury, and yes, AV too, that says they don’t have an exemplary batting average when it comes to assessing young players. If there’s something I’m missing, please, present your evidence to the contrary.

          • Richter1994 says:

            I trust Gorton a lot. The problem appears to be that maybe he doesn’t have as much authority as I thought he did, meaning Cigar is still calling the shots, overall.

            You have to stop with Girardi. He’s an old and beat up D man that got beat on a regular basis and had no ability to get out of the D zone with any skill whatsoever. That’s a fact, not opinion.

            And it was also a fact that Clendening did have the ability to make tape to tape passes coming out of the D zone to get the Rangers moving forward. No he was not great and he sucked, but Girardi sucked more.

            And full disclosure, I was THRILLED when the Rangers re-signed Girardi so there is no bias against Girardi from me whatsoever, because I was a staunch supporter. Girardi aged and declined to the point that he could not be used on an already bad defensive team.

            Please don’t tell me how great he’s doing in Tampa. TB is a great team that have forwards that own the puck, and automatically make it easier for their defensemen. And even there, G went from top pair to whatever he is now. He’s bad and will only get worse from here when teams really start to play for their playoff runs.

            Carey’s had a few nice games but no way he takes a spot from a kid like Lettieri. Boo had a forgettable game against Detroit and Vinnie was collateral damage. And that’s why +/- is a horrible stat.

            As for general player evaluation, I don’t know the pecking order, meaning how much input AV has into player progress as to who plays and who doesn’t. I would assume a lot.

            Funny, but 2013-14, when AV had the least amount of input, he had his most successful year. As time goes on, I would imagine he has more and the results have declined. Take that fact for what it’s worth.

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              Point by point….

              1) I would agree to an extent. Fact is, Sather is the president. He was never going to go away. But I doubt Gorton takes the job if he wasn’t given the full authority to do what he feels is best. I just rejected then and now the notion that somehow, Gorton looks at Sather above him and AV below him and just shakes his head wondering what the heck he’s gotten himself into with his “less-than-dynamic duo” he’s been “forced” to deal with, as some have suggested here. I suspect all three are much more on the same page than some out here want to believe.

              2) Girardi vs Clendening. Nope…sorry. I’m not letting this go for awhile. All last year, all I kept hearing was how much better we would be if only Clendo was in the lineup. The prior year, it was the same argument, but substitute McIlrath for Clendo. The clear implication was, if only we had a different coach, then we would have seen our “saviors” in more prominent roles and the Rangers would have had greater success.

              But facts are stubborn things. Obviously, with both “saviors” toiling in the AHL for now and maybe for the rest of their pro careers, that whole ridiculous theory has been debunked. No GM or coach would have made a different call. That’s been proven. And Girardi, who was absolutely destroyed out here and who was even called “no longer an NHL player”, is playing important minutes for the best team in hockey. Clendo couldn’t even crack the lineup for the worst team in hockey. McIlrath was waived three times and went unclaimed.

              Verdict—AV’s decisions on all three players were SPOT ON, and he has totally been vindicated. The amateurs out here trying to use fancy stats to prove their points doubled down on the narratives and they doubled down on it wrong. Plain and simple. The league has universally rejected the analysis that was done in the blogosphere.

              And I would add this. If the cap was not an issue, there is no doubt in my mind Girardi would still be here and no doubt at all in my mind that we would be a better defense if he was still here. None whatsoever.

              3) Carey vs Lettieri— again, there are certain guys on a squad that you want to have that don’t require a lot of playing time, but you want them on your squad as a security blanket. It was decided that Lettieri, again an UNDRAFTED free agent, could use some development time in Hartford. You can only carry so many players on the big squad, right? You need players like Carey and DD as insurance policies. So you need those guys on the roster. What if they cut Carey, they start with Lettieri, and then he craps the bed? Then what?

              4) AV’s influence—I also hear that some of the hot dog vendors have changed over since 2014. Maybe they are the reason the team has declined. 🙂

              So, seriously, what you are trying to suggest here is that Torts, that clearly superior judge of talent who went with guys like Asham, Clowe, Powe, etc over Kreider, Miller and Zuc, those were the “glory days” of evaluation but once AV came in, it was all downhill? I guess he really blew it with Benoit Pouliot and Dominick Moore. It seems like he totally botched it with Michael Grabner.

              The Rangers have been consistently one of the best teams in the league since AV came on board. Three straight 100+ point season in the Cap Era is pretty rare. The playoffs have been a mixed bag, but let’s not forget what REALLY happened that caused the decline. They lost veteran leadership in MSL and Richards that they have as yet been unable to replace. Our so called “elite beasts” who were supposed to succeed them have largely fell short. That’s why the playoff runs have petered out. AV’s “influence” has nothing to do with it. Although again, please point out examples to support this claim.

              Certainly, what we do know is, Gorton does NOT agree with you, as the recent contract points out.

            • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

              One last thought on the last few seasons. What has really changed is not the influence of the coach, as much as the influence of the new GM. I’m not ready to skewer him yet, because he may well be playing the long game. But in terms of the short game, he has had his breakfast, lunch and dinner handed to him by the likes of Yzerman, Rutherford and recently Shero—just to name a few.

              Stanley Cup rosters are built by great GMs, not by coaches. This hasn’t been a legit SC roster since Gorton took over. Time will tell if he’s the right man to build this into a winner or not.

            • Richter1994 says:

              Yep results matter, no question, so if the Rangers give up 40 shots per game but win then who cares? If the Rangers make the playoffs and AV adds more regular season wins to his resume then who cares?

              Well, those are all nice but what do they mean? The guy has had very good teams including elite goalies so his “record” is good but deceiving.

              Of course all good coaches have to have good players, they can’t win without them. But in the playoffs, where real coaching really matters, he lost 3 playoff games for the team and a chance to move onto the ECF. To me that’s fireable results. Because WHEN does a coach become accountable?

              For some reason you, spozo, and other coach supporters seem to think that I take great pleasure in jumping on the coach. Actually, I don’t for 2 reasons: He’s the coach of my favorite sports’ team and I pay thousands of dollars a year to hopefully see a Cup for our team. So no, it annoys the crap out of me the way he does things sometimes. Things that should be “obvious” to a professional hockey coach.

              Funny, but Shatty is much better the last few games, right? I have been “begging” for AV to put a defensive D man with him, even Smith. I’m not a genius, it’s just common sense not to have Shatty and Skjei as a D pairing.

              AV may be the right coach for the team but he has to be a lot better at certain things. Because the playoffs is when coaching matters and he’s been a detriment in this area IMO.

              I know you disagree and so do others, but results matter.

              • Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

                Where we disagree is that you are mich harsher on AV on the late game issues than I am, and I suspect Gorton or Sather were. Simply put, and all you AV critics conveniently forget this, he had THREE DIFFERENT deployments and they ALL failed. How is that on the coach?

                The far, far bigger issue last season was the total and epic no show performances from our alleged stars. What team can possibly win in the playoffs with NOTHING from their best players? We should have been out first round and would have been without Hank. We were a flawed, medicore team since mid-February. The team was not anywhere near good enough. That’s the overwhelming reason why they lost. Not the overblown deployment narrative.

                But if last year was AV’s fault, then shouldn’t he have a buffer considering his successes in other playoff years, including being the only coach in SC history to rally his team back from 3-1 deficits twice in successive seasons? That’s pretty damn good coaching I’d say.

              • Richter1994 says:

                I have criticized the players over playoff lack of production, no question. And AV has no part of that blame.

                Where I blame AV is the coach’s job is to put the team into best position to succeed, including his players. Bottom line is that I think he fails miserably in this area, hence my problem with him.