After playing in Winnipeg last night, the Rangers are in Chicago tonight to take on the Blackhawks. That’s a lot of travel for an injury riddled team. But on the bright side, the Hawks are just as injured (no Jonathan Toews), and are playing Scott Darling over Corey Crawford. That gives the Rangers a good chance at winning the second of back-to-backs, as the Hawks are not that deep.
However, while the Hawks are not deep, they have an incredible top end of the lineup. Their top line can basically score at will, and any line with Marian Hossa is a danger to score as well. The defense is going to have to contain those top-six, and Henrik Lundqvist is going to have to be stronger than he has been to start the season. But this is a very winnable game.
After laying an egg on the powerplay in Brooklyn, the Rangers scored twice with the man advantage in Winnipeg en route to a 2-1 win over the Jets. It wasn’t pretty, as even strength play was inconsistent, but they were able to keep the Jets of the board for the most part. The lack of scoring is expected for the Rangers, who are missing four of their top forwards. But they persevered for their first win of the season when scoring fewer than three goals.
The defense was pretty solid, and Antti Raanta put up a solid game. He needed to kiss the post a few times, but that’s hockey. Marc Staal had a solid game, and I spotted a lot of smart plays with the puck from him, including several controlled zone exits. Zone exits and entries were something that the Rangers did very well in the first period, which shows up in the quality chances on net. Overall, a fairly decent game for a very shorthanded Rangers team.
On to the goals:
The Rangers have had a rough stretch, going 4-5-1 in their last ten while playing some pretty ugly hockey. Given the significance of the injuries, it can be said that staying around hockey .500 is a win for this club. In my humble opinion, the injuries and inconsistent goaltending –based on what we are used to from Henrik Lundqvist– has made the flaws of the team more obvious. That said, the Rangers did play better in Brooklyn, so that’s a start.
As for the Jets, they are dealing with injuries of their own, which has led to a relatively unbalanced lineup. Throw in some pretty rough goaltending, and you have a team that the Rangers should be able to pick apart. That said, the Jets are still at hockey .500 at 13-13-3, and they have a very talented top-six that can make slow defenses pay.
Until the Rangers get fully healthy, expect more of the same from them. Consistently inconsistent.
Springfield Thunderbirds 4, Hartford Wolf Pack 2
By Henry Lucey
Hartford, CT, December 7, 2016 – The Springfield Thunderbirds’ Joe Diamond and Tim Bozon both scored second period goals to propel the visiting Thunderbirds to a 4-2 victory over the Hartford Wolf Pack Wednesday night at the XL Center in Hartford.
Despite taking just over four minutes to record their first shot on goal, the Wolf Pack managed to land several threatening attempts on Mike McKenna’s net in the game’s opening frame. Hartford’s best opportunity came when Matt Carey feed a cross-ice pass to an unmarked Boo Nieves, but like he did nine other times, McKenna came up with the save.
The below is a guest post by Jake Weingarten (@TheJakeWeinz). He’s also got a good idea going, called Blueshirt Faithful, where anyone who wants to write a post about the Rangers is welcome to write on what they want, as often as they want. It gives a voice to people who don’t have/want a blog, but want to write here and there. His post below is a reminder that despite the slide, there is a bright future in New York.
The New York Rangers have become one of the NHL’s youngest forward corps. Most of the core group is under the age of 30, with the majority under the age of 25. They have also grown their minor league teams and have players from all around the world, which will help keep the youth infusion coming for years to come.
The Rangers have one of the oldest goalies in the league in Henrik Lundqvist, but they have some outstanding goalie prospects. Over the past few months, Rangers fans have gotten the attention of Russian goalie prospect Igor Shestyorkin. Shestyorkin, 20, has been playing for SKA of the KHL and has played some outstanding hockey. He was named KHL player of the month in October, he recorded 13 wins, 6 shutouts, and had a .950 SV%, and is the heir-apparent to The King. With college goalie prospects Tyler Wall (UMass-Howell) and Adam Huska (UConn) to add to Brandon Halverson and Mackenzie Skapski, goaltending is a major source of strength.
There’s a lot going on in Rangerland lately. With injuries mounting, the Rangers have been forced to call up a pair of forwards from Hartford and have been forced to dress another pair of forwards that have been regular scratches. The goaltending hasn’t been Hank-like. The defense has been suspect, as expected. All that has come to the interwebs being an almost unbearable place to be for Ranger fans. So let’s have some fun.
- The Rangers have basically been forced to replace Rick Nash-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich with some combination of Matt Puempel (now injured himself), Marek Hrivik, Josh Jooris, Nicklas Jensen, and Oscar Lindberg. If you’re wondering why they aren’t scoring and aren’t getting any good chances, that’s probably your first place to look. Michael Grabner’s absence for personal reasons compounds the issue. Hot take: The Rangers aren’t tough enough, and that’s why they aren’t scoring.
- Henrik Lundqvist has not looked Hank-like this season. Some point to the defense hanging him out to dry and allowing him to be peppered with high quality chances regularly. Some point to the age of now 34-year-old goaltender as a sign of his decline. We’ve seen slow starts from Hank and seen that he rebounds. Could that change, and he doesn’t rebound to his usual self? Sure. But again, we’ve seen that after slow starts, he tends to rebound. Hot take: Trade him for pucks, free up cap space, let Antti Raanta be the started with Mackenzie Skapski backing him up.
Update: Nash will be out one week following an MRI. Puempel has been placed on IR with a concussion, so he will be out at least a week as well. Placing Puempel on IR gives the Rangers room for the Nicklas Jensen call up.
Original Post: More injury news for the Rangers, as their forward depth keeps getting gutted by injuries. They appear to have lost two more forwards to injuries, time tables TBD.
Matt Puempel left the game in the first with a concussion, after taking a rather vicious cross check to the chin by Brock Nelson. Puempel is in the standard concussion protocol
More importantly, Rick Nash tweaked his groin in the second and did not return. That’s a significant loss for the Rangers if it’s long term. More to come.
With the news that they potentially will be without Rick Nash and Matt Puempel for a little while, the rangers have recalled forward Nicklas Jensen from the Hartford Wolf Pack. Jensen has a line of 8-7-15 in 21 games with the Pack.
The Jensen call up likely means one or both of Nash/Puempel are not expected to play tomorrow. Jensen looks to be in, and if both can’t go, then Josh Jooris will be in as well.
The injuries keep on mounting.
Heading into last night’s game in Brooklyn, the only thing on fans minds was playing a complete 60 minute game. The Rangers had been playing poorly over the course of their previous nine (4-4-1 in that span), and needed a rebound game. Well, they got the effort, but Jaroslav Halak was the difference, stopping 36 of 38 shots as the Isles won 4-2. Halak bested Henrik Lundqvist, who got beat on some odd goals, something we never like to say.
The power play failed the Rangers in this one, going 0-for-6, capped by a stunning pass-pass-pass-don’t shoot effort on a 6-on-3 while desperately trying to tie the game. The power play has been an issue since the injury to Mika Zibanejad, and likely won’t get much better until the Rangers are able to deploy a right-handed shooter with the man advantage. The early deflection goals and the power play proved to be the difference.
On to the goals:
The Rangers are in the middle of their worst stretch of the season, in terms of on-ice performance, and it’s shown itself in the standings with a 4-4-1 record in their last nine games. Apart from inconsistent play, the Rangers have seen their speed game neutralized due to injuries and blue line regression. It’s eerily similar to last year, but the special teams have been a major source of happiness of late.
And perhaps it’s on special teams that the Rangers will need to take care of business tonight. The Rangers hold top-ten powerplay and penalty kill units, while the Isles are last on the powerplay and 18th on the penalty kill. Couple that with very weak forward lines, and the Isles are a team that the Rangers should be able to dominate. But then again, the Isles always play the Rangers tough, so you never really know. A consistent 60 minute effort would be super, though.