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Game 18: Callahan, Boyle, Stralman return to MSG

Photo: NHL.com

Photo: NHL.com

Tonight’s game against the Tamp Bay Lightning comes with some added drama. Former captain Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, and Anton Stralman all make their MSG returns after departing the club last season. Cally left in the MSL trade, and Boyle/Stralman joined him via free agency. Cally played most of his first eight years in New York, and was named captain after Chris Drury was bought out. Boyle (five years) and Stralman (three years) revived their careers on Broadway under John Tortorella. All three were key cogs in making hockey relevant in New York once again.

As for the team itself, Jon Cooper has the Lightning playing a pretty similar system as the Rangers. They run an overload 1-2-2 forecheck, but will mix in a 2-1-2 as well. In the defensive zone, they mix zone and overload coverage depending on puck location. On special teams, they run a 1-3-1 power play and rotate between a diamond and box penalty kill depending on opposition setup.

Rangers lineup:

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Hartford terminates Kaberle’s PTO – Broadway bound? (Updated)

Update: Per Larry Brooks, the Rangers are not expected to make Kaberle an offer.

The Hartford Wolf Pack have terminated the PTO for defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Kaberle played two games for the Pack, putting up a pair of powerplay assists and a -3 rating in the two losses to Manchester (4-3 in overtime) and Bridgeport (6-1). With the PTO terminated, this means that the Rangers will either offer him a contract, or that the PTO has ended and the two sides will part ways. Andrew Gross thinks that the Rangers will offer him a contract.

Personally, I don’t believe Kaberle is the answer. He hasn’t been relevant in the NHL since the 2011-2012 season. This is a speed game now, and Kaberle won’t add anything to the blue line that Matt Hunwick or Mike Kostka can’t. With the Rangers at 49 contracts, signing Kaberle would put them at the maximum 50 contracts, and make trades that much more difficult.

Lineup changes: Duclair in for Fast

Per Andrew Gross, Anthony Duclair will play tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning, skating on the third line with Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin. Lee Stempniak was shifted to the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Tanner Glass. Jesper Fast will be the healthy scratch.

The defensive pairs will be Marc Staal-Dan Boyle, John Moore-Dan Girardi, and Matt Hunwick-Kevin Klein.

Rangers invent new way to lose in classic WTF game

I was going to do a goal breakdown for this game. I actually DVR’d the right channel this time around. I didn’t get home until the beginning of the third period, so I caught that, the overtime, and the shootout. And honestly, a goal breakdown won’t do this game justice. The 25 minutes of actual hockey I watched were entertaining, then the shootout made me headdesk a lot. Let’s get to bullet points, because my brain is about to explode:

  • First things first: The Rangers never even should have got to the shootout. Henrik Lundqvist was unreal, making 36 saves before the shootout.
  • The Dan Boyle non-shootout goal was the right call. Yes, it sucked, but it was the right call. The puck hit the post, that was the end of the attempt. The puck wound up going off the post, off Boyle’s stick, then back in the net. It is what it is. Toronto actually had to call the arena and get the teams back on the ice. The refs missed it. Somewhere, Brett Hull is laughing hysterically.
  • I think the Rangers invented a new way to lose with that one. I honestly thought I’d seen it all.

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Game 17: Make it five in a row against the Penguins

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

The New York Rangers are in Pittsburgh for the first time since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis last year, and just four days after blowing out the Pens 5-0 at MSG. The Rangers have won four straight against the Pittsburgh Penguins, dating back to the playoffs last year, and have allowed just three goals in those four games. But, the Rangers blew a golden opportunity to build on that shutout against Colorado on Thursday. So, it’s tough to know what to expect from this team tonight.

Suit’s System Preview: The Penguins are playing a slightly different system under Mike Johnston than it did under Bylsma. Johnston has Pittsburgh running a stacked 1-2-2 forecheck, which is what AV runs. Everyone attacks and breaks-out in packs. Short, quick passes and attacking the blueline with speed is preferred over dump and chase hockey and home run passes. Pretty much everyone is playing this way now.

Not much has changed in the DZ. They still run a basic zone defense, a 1-3-1 power play and a hybrid penalty kill depending on puck location. It’s a copy cat league kids.

There are no changes to the lineup from the past two games, which means Anthony Duclair is still a healthy scratch for some inexplicable reason.

Rangers lineup:

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Six weeks of unsustainable SH% for four Rangers

NYPOST.COM

The Rangers were absolutely decimated by injuries in October and November, at one point skating without their top line center and four of their top-six defensemen. When you’re dressing options seven, eight, nine, and ten on the blue line, you need better contributions from those in the lineup. Luckily for the Rangers, four guys stepped up their games offensively to fill the void. Rick Nash (12-6-18), Derick Brassard (6-7-13), Martin St. Louis (6-6-12), and Kevin Klein (3-2-5) were major contributors in keeping the Rangers afloat.

Nash has been a force all season, looking like the Rick Nash the Rangers traded for in 2012. MSL has been contributing at his normal career pace despite playing a good number of the games at center this year. Brassard has shown great chemistry with them as well, looking like that $5 million center they re-signed in the offseason. As for Klein, he’s never cracked the five goal mark in a season, and he looks to be well on his way this year.

But these four players have one thing in common – unsustainable SH%, that is surely to regress as the season bears on.

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BSB FanDuel: 11/14

Here is the info for today’s FanDuel league: Sign up here, the league link is here.

For those unfamiliar with Fanduel, you are given $55,000 to construct a team of 2 LW, 2 RW, 2 C, 2 D, and 1 G. The goal is to find some good bargains (my advice is to save money on defense and spend big on offense) and save money for some stars you know will put up points. High fantasy points per game (FPG) with low cost is a good way to go, but look for streaks as well (for example. Johnny Boychuck is not going to continue at his pace).

Rotowire has a lineup optimizer, as does DangleFactory. They are good resources if this intrigues you, but you’re new to daily fantasy sports.

As always, if the league fills up before you can get in, let me know in the comments. I leave the league size at 10 people for now to ensure it fills up. If there is more interest, I will expand the size as this continues.

Tomas Kaberle officially inks PTO

The Hartford Wolf Pack have officially signed defenseman Tomas Kaberle to a professional tryout. It was reported yesterday that Kaberle reported to the Pack to play in a few games this weekend. The PTO is a formality that allows that to happen. Kaberle is not signed to an NHL deal yet.

Rangers manage a point, lose in shootout to Colorado

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

The New York Rangers managed to grab a point against the Colorado Avalanche, but were downed in the shootout by a score of 4-3. New York didn’t come out particularly strong in the game, getting dominated by the Avs and trailing after the period. But then the Rangers found the same gear they had in the Pittsburgh game, and came roaring back to take a 3-2 lead into the third period. A Jesper Fast penalty put the kibosh on that pretty quickly though.

Henrik Lundqvist didn’t face a ton of shots, but had to make some good saves throughout the game against a very talented lineup. The Rangers, who had ten players finish with a point in the 5-0 rout of Pittsburgh on Thursday, had eight players finish with a point in this contest. They didn’t have a strong first period, but rebounded nicely for the final 40 minutes of regulation. Worth noting: Dan Boyle looked very, very good in this game. Wait until he has two fully functional hands and a few games to shake off the rust.

On to the goals:

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Game 16: Dan Boyle returns against Colorado

Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images North America

Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images North America

Two days after blowing out the Pittsburgh Penguins, the pretty bad Colorado Avalanche are in town after being blown out by the New York Islanders. The Avs fall from grace was predicted by everyone who has some grasp of #fancystats, but they are still a pretty talented team that can put pucks in the net. However, they can’t play defense and are one of the worst possession teams in the league.

On the ice, the Avs run a very aggressive style of play. On the forecheck it is a straight 2-1-2 without sitting on leads. In the defensive zone, the Avs play man-on-man down low with the defense and center, while the wingers play zone. On special teams, the Avs run a 1-3-1 power play and a hybrid penalty kill depending on puck location.

Rangers lineup:

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