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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
- Brandon Halverson (Soo Greyhounds, W 5-4): 33 shots, 29 saves
It’s too early in the season to call a game a must win, but the Rangers could really use a dominant showing against the woeful Carolina Hurricanes tonight. The Canes are without brothers Staal, Jeff Skinner, and Andrej Sekera. Considering the team really wasn’t that good to begin with, missing four of their top players means these are two points the Rangers should grab.
I haven’t watched a Canes game since Bill Peters was hired as their head coach, so I don’t know much about what they do on the ice. However, they are missing four top guys, so it may even be tough to get a gauge on them tonight too. On the bright side, since Eric and Jordan are out, we may not be subjected to countless Staal’s are brothers references.
Chris did the heavy lifting today with his post this morning, covering for me while I figure out what I did to my wrist. Luckily, it’s my left wrist, so my social life will go –ahem– unaffected. I get to give you some musings and thoughts after a three game losing streak. Since each time I need to move my left wrist hurts, it’s going to be a short list. Sorry about that.
- Is it Halloween yet? No? Ok then. No use panicking. This team was in much worse shape last year at this point, and they went to the Stanley Cup Finals. This year’s team has two major injuries to key players (Derek Stepan, Dan Boyle), and already has much better puck possession numbers than last year at this point in the season (small sample size). I’m not worried.
- Speaking of those injuries, these were two guys the Rangers really couldn’t afford to lose. They were already thin at center, and team defense was downgraded this summer. With Boyle, the Rangers certainly didn’t count on replacing Anton Stralman with Mike Kostka or Matt Hunwick. That one probably hurt the most. At least the Rangers had Martin St. Louis, an incredibly smart player, to take over 1C temporarily.
- Focusing on the defensive play of the entire team: I think the Isles game was the best example of how the Rangers can do the right things, but coverage failures (and yes, turnovers) can doom any team, even if they dominate puck possession.
Can’t really say this was unexpected, but after Mike Kostka’s two turnovers last night, he was skating as the 7D in practice today, per Seth Rothman. Marc Staal was skating with Matt Hunwick, and Kevin Klein was still with John Moore.
The Rangers defense failed them again last night, as they fell to the Islanders 6-3. This was the second straight game that the Rangers allowed six goals, and have allowed a whopping 17(!) in the past three games. The Rangers, for most of the game, controlled the Islanders, but the Mike Kostka turnovers turned the entire game around. It’s unfair to pin the entire game on him, but those turnovers were brutal and gave the Isles the tying goal and the lead at the time.
Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t his usual Hank self. He allowed one pretty bad goal (Nick Leddy) that really put the game away. Usually he stops those. The entire offense is based around Rick Nash lately. It’s just a tough time for the Rangers, who are adjusting to big turnover, rookies, and injuries. Plus, this game could have been a lot different had Jaroslav Halak not been unreal in the second period.
On to the goals: