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Logjam at wing may spell end of Duclair (temporarily)

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Anthony Duclair was a healthy scratch as the Rangers beat the Sharks 4-0 yesterday. When the initial news broke, there was some serious outrage over scratching Duke, some of it was rational and warranted, most was irrational. The Duke has three assists on the season, but has yet to put one in the net. That is partially due to lack of shots on goal –he has just six SOG– but it also has to do with his ability to put himself in a position to get shots on net.

Duclair has two games where he’s registered a shot on goal: The back-to-back 6-3 shellings by the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs. His two assists: Against Columbus in that 5-2 disaster. He’s not being given the room he had in the preseason, which is expected since he’s now playing against the cream of the crop. Spending some time up top watching a game or two can help a 19-year-old kid identify the subtle differences (speed) of the game. He hasn’t played his way out of the lineup, not by a long shot.

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Injury update: Klein on the ice, Girardi not

After last night’s game, both Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein were both in need of stitches. Girardi took a shot off the ankle that needed to be stitched up, and Klein took a puck to the chin. Klein returned to the ice today for practice, while Girardi did not. Girardi is day-to-day, and there’s a chance he could miss tomorrow’s game against the New Jersey Devils. However, Girardi is made from robot parts, so I expect him to play.

Rangers blank Sharks in strong showing

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks, one of the leagues better teams, came to The Garden yesterday on the heels of back-to-back and three-in-four nights. Regardless of the fatigue factor (all teams have stretches like that), the Rangers put on a dominating performance, blanking the Sharks 4-0 and taking advantage of some critical defensive mistakes. Alex Stalock, who had been solid in net for San Jose, had rebound control all game and got burned on a pair of them.

Kevin Hayes notched his first NHL goal, Carl Hagelin and Martin St. Louis notched their first goals of the year, and Rick Nash continued on his hot start to provide the offense for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves as he appears to have regained his form after a slow start. After three losses in a row, the Rangers have won two straight to put them back to .500.

On to the goals:

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Around the Farm: Weekend recap, Fogarty with five point weekend

Almost every prospect was in action over the weekend. The Hartford Wolf Pack went 1-0-1 to stay unbeaten in regulation to start the season. The Pack beat Portland 2-1 and lost in overtime to Hersey 1-0. The Pack have allowed five goals over three games to start the season, but have scored just six. The defense appears to be improved from last year, and the offense should come around. See below for the full stat lines from the weekend.

In the NCAA ranks, Steven Fogarty racked up five points in two games, including a four point performance as he captained Notre Dame to a combined 10-4 pair of victories.

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Game 6: One of the West’s best

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

After a much-needed win against the woeful Carolina Hurricanes, the San Jose Sharks –one of the Western Conference’s best– is coming to town for an afternoon showdown with the New York Rangers. The Sharks are 4-0-1 to start the season, riding hot goaltending and absurd scoring (20 goals so far). The Sharks, particularly Tomas Hertl, gained fame last year among Rangers fans by deking Martin Biron into retirement. That won’t happen today (he can’t retire again), but the Rangers need to avoid that same kind of embarrassment, preferably with a big W.

On the ice, coach Todd McLellan has his Sharks mostly running an aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck, but will mix in some 1-2-2 depending on game situation. In the defensive zone schemes they overload the boards and play zone defense when the puck is at the points or down low. The power play is a 1-3-1 and their penalty kill formations are hybrid (depends on puck location/opposition setup).

Rangers lineup:

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Lineup Changes: Duclair odd man out with roster moves

Per Pat Leonard, the Rangers have new lines following three roster moves yesterday, and Anthony Duclair will be the odd man out, at least for tomorrow night’s game. The lines:

Mats Zuccarello-Derick Brassard-Martin St. Louis
Chris Kreider-Kevin Hayes-Rick Nash
Carl Hagelin-Dominic Moore-Lee Stempniak
Tanner Glass-Chris Mueller-Ryan Malone

It’s very early in the season, and Alain Vigneault also said that Duclair may not play every game to start the season. There is value in watching games from above to see how plays develop in the NHL and in AV’s systems. It’s one game, so there’s no reason to panic over Duclair sitting. The staff will make the best possible decision to ensure his growth isn’t stunted by rushing him.

Rangers recall Chris Mueller; return Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller

The New York Rangers have recalled forward Chris Mueller from the Hartford Wolf Pack, returning forwards Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller in the process. Miller and Fast have been healthy scratches for the past two games, so getting them playing time in the AHL is a good idea. Mueller had a strong camp, and Alain Vigneault probably figures he can get more out of him than he can Fast/Miller at this point of the season.

Personally, I think Fast was just fine in his two games, but clearly the coach wants him to work on some things. As for Miller, well I still think he’s best suited for the wing. Maybe he gets time there with the Pack.

Since Mueller is a center, this could mean the end of the Martin St. Louis at center experiment, especially since Kevin Hayes has looked quite comfortable there.

Blue line depth being exploited early on

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America

This past offseason, the Rangers let Anton Stralman walk via free agency and a five-year, $4.5 million deal in Tampa Bay. They replaced him with Dan Boyle on a shorter term deal, two years at $4.5 million. While the move was hotly contested by many, and created a divide for the pro-Stralman and anti-Stralman debate, the fact is that Boyle was still a serviceable replacement, and someone who would certainly help the team on the powerplay.

But then, 40 minutes into the season, Boyle broke his hand. Mike Kostka and Matt Hunwick have been called upon to replace him in the lineup, paired with either Marc Staal or John Moore. For the first month of the season, the Rangers are replacing Stralman with the Kostka/Hunwick combination, and no matter which way you slice it, that was never part of the plan.

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Rangers right the ship against Carolina

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

After three straight dismal games, the Rangers righted the ship with two big points against a pretty bad Carolina Hurricanes club. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t what we would like to see on a regular basis, but it was two points, and that’s all that matters. Henrik Lundqvist was very sharp, finally returning to form after his defense failed him in the three previous games. Hank stopped 29 and then all three in the shootout.

The lone Rangers goal came from crashing the net, as Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard combined for a double deflection to tie the game in the third period. Rick Nash also had a strong game, which has come as no surprise this season. Hopefully this is a win the team can build on.

On to the goals:

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Around the Farm: Halverson remains perfect

Brandon Halverson was the only prospect in action last night, as Ryan Mantha was scratched for Niagra. Halverson and the 7-0-0 Soo Greyhounds made it 8-0-0 as they squeaked by North Bay by a score of 5-4. Halverson stopped 29 of 33 shots.

  • OHL
    • Brandon Halverson (Soo Greyhounds, W 5-4): 33 shots, 29 saves