Rangers recall J.T. Miller

The Rangers have recalled forward J.T. Miller from the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack. Since the Pack did not make the playoffs, their season is over, and Miller can benefit from watching the games as a healthy scratch. Miller will sit with fellow “rookie” Ryan Haggerty and the other healthy scratches as part of the taxi squad for this year’s playoffs. Don’t expect Miller to get any ice time, unless the Rangers are overcome with injuries to their forwards.

Zipay: Kreider may be ready for second round

Per Steve Zipay, injured winger Chris Kreider will likely miss the first round of the playoffs, but should be ready for the second round should the Rangers advance:

Chris Kreider (surgery on left hand March 28) is progressing and the 17-goal scorer should be ready if the Rangers advance to the second round.

This means that the Rangers will need to dress Jesper Fast (or Dan Carcillo) for the entirety of the first round.

Fast or Carcillo: Lineup decision plays key role

Fast has played well so far. (Photo: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

Fast has played well so far. (Photo: Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

When Chris Kreider went down with his hand injury, the Rangers were left with a problem in their top-six forwards. There were few options to fill in for Kreider, and none that could provide the scoring threat that Kreider provides on a nightly basis. Dan Carcillo has been a pleasant surprise, and Jesper Fast has held his own in his call up this week. Since J.T. Miller is not ready to take on this role, it comes down to Fast or Carcillo.

Acquired for a 7th round pick, Carcillo has been one of those pickups that went under the radar but reaped many rewards for the Rangers. Originally thought to be redundant with Arron Asham in Hartford, Carcillo has fit in nicely with the fourth line. The fourth line continued chugging along with Carcillo in for the then-injured Derek Dorsett. Once Dorsett returned, Carcillo bounced around the lineup, most recently filling in for Kreider on both the top line and second line.

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First round schedule

The NHL has announced the schedule for the first round, which begins Thursday at MSG:

  • Game 1: Thursday 4/17 – 7PM  | MSG
  • Game 2: Sunday 4/20 – 12PM  | NBCSN
  • Game 3: Tuesday 4/22 – 8PM  | MSG
  • Game 4: Friday 4/25 – 7PM  |MSG
  • Game 5: Sunday 4/27 – 12PM | NBCSN
  • Game 6: Tuesday 4/29 – TBD  | MSG
  • Game 7: Wednesday 4/30 – TBD  | MSG

Goal breakdown (sorta): Rangers/Canadiens

This is going to be a brutally honest post: I did not watch the game last night. I had another commitment, but I DVR’d the game to do the goal breakdown this morning. Alas, there were no goals scored at all that were worth breaking down. And by that, I mean I’m not breaking down a penalty shot. I saw the replay, was the right call on the play. So, there is no real point of a goal breakdown today. The game was meaningless, and the first time since the end of the 2011-2012 regular season the Rangers have played a meaningless game.

So, the Rangers have clinched the #2 seed, and will play the Flyers in the opening round. Game 1 is on Thursday, giving the Rangers four more days of rest before the playoffs. Time of the game is TBD, but we can assume that since Game 1 is Thursday, Game 2 will be Saturday, Game 3 Monday, etc.

It’s the first nice weekend we’ve had here in New York since…October? Something like that. Go out, enjoy. Use this as your open thread for the day. Talk about whatever, but keep it civil.

Game 82: Meaningless game in Montreal

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

Tonight’s game is meaningless for the Rangers. They have locked up the #2 seed in the Metropolitan Division, and will likely play Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs. None of Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi, Martin St. Louis, or Ryan McDonagh (despite being 100%) will play tonight, as the Rangers are resting their vets for the playoffs. Justin Falk and Dan Carcillo will play in place of Girardi and MSL, and Cam Talbot will get the start tonight.

Under Michel Therrien, the Canadiens play a 1-2-2 forecheck, but do use a 2-1-2 style from time to time based on the score and puck location. Though this team prefers to want to play passive and clog up the neutral zone. Like the Rangers, Montreal’s defensive zone system is to overload when the puck is along the boards and collapse around the slot when the puck is behind the net.

What’s interesting is that Therrien has said in the past that they overload the boards because of their team size and speed (note: small and fast). On special teams, the Habs play your standard umbrella powerplayOn the penalty kill, they rotate between a diamond force and a box depending on puck location. They really look to pressure the opposition all over the ice when shorthanded.

Rangers Lineup (lineup confirmed, lines unconfirmed):

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Injury/Lineup updates: McDonagh 100%; Vets getting rest

Per Andrew Gross, injured defenseman Ryan McDonagh has confirmed that he is 100%, and will return for the playoffs. McDonagh has been out since April 1, after taking a “questionable” hit from Vancouver’s Alex Burrows late in the third period. Although he is 100%, he will not be playing tonight in Montreal.

In addition to McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Martin St. Louis, and Henrik Lundqvist will also be out of the lineup tonight to get some much deserved and/or needed rest. For Girardi, this will be just the fifth (!!!) game he has missed in his entire NHL career (two last season, two in 2010-2011).

People may not agree with Alain Vigneault here, but the game tonight is meaningless. There’s no point in ruining Hank’s confidence (he has a better shot at being president of the US than winning in Montreal it seems); it’s a good idea to give Girardi some time to order some new robot parts for his body; and it’s probably a good idea to get MSL out of his own head.

Rangers, Pouliot have mutual interest in extension

Per Pat Leonard, the Rangers and forward Benoit Pouliot have mutual interest in a contract extension that would keep the forward in New York. Signed as a UFA to a one-year, $1.3 million deal, Pouliot has been a pleasant surprise for the Rangers. Clicking on the “third” line with Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello, Pouliot has a line of 15-21-36 in 79 games. That line becomes more impressive when you remember that in the first 27 games (through the end of November) Pouliot was pretty bad, putting up just two goals and two assists while fans tried to figure out what was wrong with him.

Since then, Pouliot has put up a line of 13-19-32 in 52 games, far more impressive. His point total (36) and assist total (21) are both career highs. His 15 goals is 1 shy of his career high. Suffice it to say, Pouliot was worth his weight in gold this season, and was one of the better UFA signings the Rangers have had recently.

Rangers clinch #2 seed in Metro with win, Flyers loss

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

The Rangers will have home-ice in the first round of the playoffs, as the combination of their 2-1 win over Buffalo and Philly’s 4-2 loss to Tampa Bay sealed the deal for the #2 seed in the Metropolitan Division.  It took a while to solve fourth string goalie Matt Hackett, who played a great game, but the Rangers were able to crack him twice. Hackett finished the game with 28 saves. Across the ice, Henrik Lundqvist was the main reason why the Rangers won the game, making 23 pretty difficult saves for his 33rd win of the season.

The Rangers came out slow –again– in the first period, allowing a bad Buffalo team to walk all over them. But the Rangers absolutely dominated the second period, to the tune of an 18-2 Fenwick advantage at even strength. They got the tying goal with seconds left in the period, and got the winner with under two minutes to go in the game. It wasn’t pretty, but they got the big two points and the home-ice.

On to the goals:

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Game 81: Home finale against Buffalo

Frank Franklin II/AP

Frank Franklin II/AP

The Rangers play their final home game tonight, as the lowly Buffalo Sabres come to town. A win tonight can clinch at least a #3 seed in the Metropolitan Division, ensuring the Rangers avoid the Penguins until the second round, and the Bruins until the Conference Finals. The Rangers can clinch the #2 seed and home ice against the Flyers in the first round with a win and a loss by the Flyers in regulation in Tampa Bay.

Ted Nolan has the Sabres running a 1-2-2 forechecking system and try to shut down the middle of the ice. For the defensive zone system, he has them playing the low-zone collapse pretty much exclusively. On special teams, the Sabres run an umbrella power play and a wedge+1 penalty kill.

Rangers Lineup:

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