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Alain Vigneault activated his lineup blender. This time, he broke up the KZB line, putting Pavel Buchnevich on the fourth line.

Rick Nash-Mika Zibanejad-Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider-David Desharnais-JT Miller
Jimmy Vesey-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast
Michael Grabner-Paul Carey-Adam Cracknell/Pavel Buchnevich

Ryan McDonagh-Tony DeAngelo
Brady Skjei-Brendan Smith
Marc Staal-Kevin Shattenkirk
Nick Holden-Steven Kampfer

If this doesn’t illustrate the need for a center, then I don’t know what does. Yikes.

Categories : Lineup Changes
Comments (27)

The Rangers have a deployment problem

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ryan mcdonagh

The Rangers have had a myriad of problems to start the season. Jeff Gorton put together a flawed roster that was weak up front. Alain Vigneault isn’t doing anything to minimize those issues. The players have been inconsistent and not scoring. They’ve been a rare combination of bad and unlucky.

There is more to the issue though. As AV continues to tinker with his lineup choices, his in-game deployment strategy suffers mightily. For better or for worse, AV relies on one defense pairing to shoulder the load of defensive zone starts, giving his offensive guys more opportunities to put points on the board. This year, though, he hasn’t identified who his shutdown pair is and who is offensive pair is, and that’s a problem.

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Categories : Analysis, Defense
Comments (21)

Photo: Getty

One of the common discussions you’ll see here at BSB is the discussion about luck masking poor play, and poor luck masking good play. Generally speaking, teams that have a PDO (SV%+SH%) over 100, then the team is lucky. It’s a general rule, as skilled teams are generally over 100, especially teams with elite goaltending. There’s credence to the “create your own luck” argument, but abnormally high/low PDOs generally balance out.

That’s why xGF% is used to determine how well a team is actually playing. It takes the quality and quantity of shots taken/allowed and turns it into a stat that is usable. Generally speaking, a higher xGF% means you’re playing well. A team with a high xGF% and a poor record usually has some poor luck, and vice versa. It is rare to see a team that is both bad (xGF%) and unlucky (PDO), but the Rangers managed to do just that.

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Categories : Analysis
Comments (41)

Chytil shines in Pack win

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Hartford Wolf Pack 4, Springfield Thunderbirds 3

Springfield, MA, October 14, 2017 – Filip Chytil had the game-winning goal and two assists, for his first North American pro points, Saturday night at the MassMutual Center, as the Hartford Wolf Pack defeated the Springfield Thunderbirds by a score of 4-3.

The game was the Wolf Pack’s first road outing of the season, after the club went 2-1-0-0 in three straight home games to begin the year.

Chytil, 18, the youngest player to suit up in the AHL since October of 1974, was playing in his second game since being assigned to the Wolf Pack by the parent New York Rangers on Tuesday.

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Categories : AHL
Comments (10)
rangers devils

AP Photo/Bill Kostroun

The Rangers are now 1-4 to start the season. It is not panic time just yet, as you can’t make the playoffs in October. However you can miss the playoffs in October, and given the Metro Division, that holds particularly true if the Rangers don’t start banking some points. Tonight they get the lowly Devils, so hopefully they should come out with two points. It doesn’t matter how, the Devils aren’t making the playoffs, they just need the points.

The issue goes beyond roster decisions. As Pat pointed out this afternoon, it’s about in-game deployment. There is no reason why the KZB line should be stuck with defensive zone starts with McDonagh/Holden while the fourth line –assembled as a defense-first unit– gets offensive zone starts with Shattenkirk/Skjei. It’s mind boggling. But whatever. Water under the bridge. Just get points.

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Categories : Game Thread
Comments (60)

Hartford Wolf Pack 5, Toronto Marlies 2

By Meghan O’Reilly

Hartford, CT, October 13, 2017 – Boo Nieves had the game-winning goal and an assist, and Scott Kosmachuk added three assists, as the Hartford Wolf Pack downed the Toronto Marlies 5-2 Friday night at the XL Center.

The Wolf Pack scored early, a developing trend for the team, thanks to Adam Tambellini and assists from Nieves and Kosmachuk. That goal occurred at 5:07 of the first period, and it was on the team’s first shot on goal of the game. After a series of penalties, the Wolf Pack was outshot in the first period 11-5.

The second period started uneventfully, but it did not stay that way for long. At 6:29, the Wolf Pack’s Matt Puempel changed the tone of the game by putting the rebound of his own shot past Toronto goaltender Garret Sparks (25 saves), making the score 2-0. Ryan Graves and Alexei Bereglazov were credited with the assists.

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Categories : AHL
Comments (4)
rangers blue jackets

Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty

The Rangers and Blue Jackets played a very even 40 minutes of hockey. It was good pace, with good chances on both sides. Each side scored once, but neither seemed to gain an advantage. Then the third period happened, and it was all Blue Jackets, leading to the eventual game winner by Artemi Panarin.

Henrik Lundqvist was phenomenal in this one, getting beat clean just once on the Panarin goal. The first goal was a deflection that he had no chance. He made 40 saves in the loss. But Sergei Bobrovsky was up to the task, playing a solid game, albeit quiet for most of the third. This entire game came down to the first 10 minutes of the third period. The Rangers were poor, and it cost them the game.

On to the goals.

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Categories : Game Wrap-ups
Comments (30)

Game 5: Someone please help Mika

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rangers blue jackets ryan mcdonagh brandon dubinsky

The Rangers are off to a slow start this season, and things aren’t going to get any easier. They are in Columbus to take on a strong Jackets team that should be a playoff contender again this season. The Blue Jackets have a very strong blue line, goaltender, and top-nine. Their fourth line can be exploited, though.

As for the Rangers, they are going with another variation of blue liners tonight. Tony DeAngelo is still out, and Nick Holden gets a boost to the top pairing. Poor Ryan McDonagh. The forwards are still a little shallow, as the need for another center grows with every game someone not named Mika Zibanejad can’t score.

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Categories : Game Thread
Comments (37)

Alain Vigneault has thrown more darts at the board in an attempt to find defense pairs that “work” according to him.

Ryan McDonagh-Nick Holden
Marc Staal-Kevin Shattenkirk
Brady Skjei-Brendan Smith

I don’t know what dart he threw that made him think Holden and McDonagh would work. But at least Kampfer isn’t in the lineup. Nothing like trading your 1C for a healthy scratch defenseman, though.

Can you sense the snark, frustration, and hopelessness?

Categories : Lineup Changes
Comments (23)

mika zibanejad

It’s been an interesting start to the season, hasn’t it? Jeff Gorton and Alain Vigneault have toyed with our emotions, albeit inadvertently, with their roster decisions. The team has toyed with our emotions by scoring a ton, not scoring ever, and playing a combination of great defense and Swiss cheese defense. All in all, it’s been one of the more entertaining starts to the season since the 2013-2014 season. You know, the one where Tomas Hertl deked Martin Biron into retirement.

The main positive that has been the focus of attention has been Mika Zibanejad. With five goals this season, Zibanejad has opened this season the way he did last year before breaking his leg. He’s seemed to have found a home in the Ovi spot on the powerplay, and with Kevin Shattenkirk feeding him one-timers, he’s poised for a big year.

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Categories : Forwards
Comments (46)