Hartford Wolf Pack 5, Lehigh Valley Phantoms 4 (OT)
Allentown, PA, October 22, 2016 – Nicklas Jensen’s goal at 1:55 of overtime lifted the Hartford Wolf Pack to a 5-4 win over the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in a wild game Saturday night at the PPL Center.
Corban Knight, Andy Miele, Mark Zengerle and Chris Conner all scored for Lehigh Valley, and ex-Yale Eli Alex Lyon, making his professional debut in goal for the Phantoms, stopped 29 shots.
The Rangers are in Washington tonight to take on an “undefeated” Capitals team that sits atop the Metro Division. The Caps are doing what they did last year, scoring at a solid pace while depending on tremendous defense and goaltending. The Caps ran away with the President’s Trophy last season, and seem to be picking up right where they left off.
The Rangers are dealing with some injuries at the moment, but still have the forward depth to keep up with the Caps. This game will be won by the team that makes fewer mistakes in their own zone. The Rangers have been porous on defense and Henrik Lundqvist has been having his usual slow start. So this game could be high scoring.
The Rangers are in an interesting position. They have a pretty big logjam at forward, one that even exists while two forwards are out with injuries. If and when both Pavel Buchnevich and Oscar Lindberg return, two forwards will need to be out of the lineup. This is a magnificent problem to have.
On the other side of the coin, the Rangers have a blue line that is likely one of the bottom-ten in the league. The biggest hole is at 1RD, where the Rangers have no real options. Dan Girardi isn’t an option there anymore. Kevin Klein struggled in the role last season. Adam Clendening isn’t a top pairing defenseman. Nick Holden is a lefty. Dylan McIlrath….yea not opening that can of worms.
PP1: DJ ZBad-Kreider-Pirri-Zucc-McDonagh
Heading into the season, the Rangers were going to showcase what amounts to a brand-new forward group. The offseason focused on speed, skill, and the ability to run four skill lines. It’s a model that won the Pittsburgh Penguins a Stanley Cup last season. It’s a copycat league, but this isn’t a new trend. Most of the league has been focusing on skill/speed up and down the lineup for a few seasons now.
The improved forwards have been the story of the first four games for the Rangers. A new identity for the Rangers is being formed, with speed at the forefront. The Rangers have regained their tenacious forecheck, and have been able to sustain more controlled zone entries, leading to more quality scoring chances.
By all accounts, the Rangers dominated the Red Wings last night. However they could not solve Jimmy Howard after the first period, falling 2-1 in a fast paced game. Howard was the story of this game, standing on his head and stopping many difficult shots as the Rangers peppered him with scoring chance after scoring chance. Alas, they could not solve him.
This is the second time in four games where the Rangers have played a strong game, but got PDO’d into a loss. Howard was magnificent, and it was one bad goal that led to the loss last night. Such is life sometimes. It’s game four of 82, so there’s not much cause for concern. The process is there, and it will even out as time goes on. That is, as long as they continue to play this way.
The Rangers are in action tonight against the Detroit Red Wings in a “Wednesday Night Rivalry” game on NBCSN. I use that phrase loosely, as there is no real rivalry between the Rangers and Red Wings. It’s one of those Original Six matchups that people still think is a rivalry. But I digress.
Kevin Klein returns tonight, taking Dylan McIlrath’s spot in the lineup (let’s keep the outrage over this isolated to the lineup decisions post, please). This is a good game for him to return, as Detroit isn’t exactly a powerhouse this year. It’s a good chance for him to get his legs back under him…..or to showcase himself.
As expected, Kevin Klein will make his season debut tonight after missing three games with a back injury. Also as expected, Dylan McIlrath will sit for Klein’s return. Both Dan Girardi and Pavel Buchnevich will again be out. The expected defense pairs will be:
It’s expected that the forward lines will remain the same.
Update: I turned off comments on the game recap.
Original Post: Over the past few weeks, specifically with the news that the Rangers are shopping Dylan McIlrath, there has been an increased number of passionate discussions regarding McIlrath and Alain Vigneault. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and the main rule here has always been to do so respectfully.
However the conversations lately have been out of control. Every post is being hijacked by this discussion to the detriment of the blog posts we work hard to write, and the blog readers that come here to engage in discussion that doesn’t involve one player and/or coach. Dissenting opinions are met with extreme hostility.
Here is the link to the commenting guidelines. Review them, and keep them in mind before commenting or replying to someone else. Consider this a not-so-subtle warning.
The Rangers put up a touchdown on the San Jose Sharks last night, barely holding on for a 7-4 win. It sounds weird to say they held on for a win by three, but they did allow the Sharks to get to within a goal –after being up by three– before scoring two empty netters. Chris Kreider led the Rangers with another multi-point game as seven different Rangers scored in the win.
The one troubling aspect here is that the defense again gave up a ton of goals, including three in the third period. This was a much closer game than it needed to be. There weren’t any weak goals by Antti Raanta, it was just allowing too much room for the Sharks to maneuver. As an elite NHL team, San Jose makes you pay. But the Rangers made them pay more.
On to the goals: