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Around the Farm: Halverson remains perfect

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.

  • OHL
    • Brandon Halverson (Soo Greyhounds, W 5-4): 33 shots, 29 saves

Game 5: Needing to beat a bad Carolina team

stepan-5-on-3-goal-vs.-car-594x360

Courtesy of LoHud

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.

Rangers lineup:

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Thoughts after a three game losing streak

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Courtesy of Getty Images

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.

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Lineup notes: Hunwick back in, Kostka skating as extra

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 forward lines remained unchanged, as Jesper Fast and J.T. Miller were the extras.

Rangers defense fails again, lose third straight

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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:

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Around the Farm: Buchnevich held off score sheet

Pavel Buchnevich was the only prospect in action tonight, as Severstal lost 5-3 to Lokomotiv. Buchnevich was held off the score sheet in the contest.

  • KHL
    • Pavel Buchnevich (Severstal, L 5-3): 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, -1

Game 4: Halt the skid against the Fishsticks

Been a while since a game between these two meant something.

Oh hey, a meaningful game in this rivalry. Novel concept.

The Rangers were pretty bad in the last two games, blowing defensive assignments like they were getting paid to. Now, the Islanders, off to a good start, are in town to renew a rivalry that should see both teams in the playoffs in April. Alain Vigneault has switched up the lines a bit in response to the poor performance, as Mats Zuccarello will return to the lineup and Ryan Malone will make his Rangers debut. J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast will be the healthy scratches.

The Isles run a 1-2-2 forecheck, which they use to counter other teams mistakes. In the defensive zone, the Isles like to pressure the point, playing man-on-man up high. Look for blown coverages as the young Isles team still learns to play without the puck. On special teams, the Isles run an umbrella powerplay and a diamond penalty kill.

Rangers lineup:

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What in the world are the Rangers to do with J.T. Miller?

Debates! Arguments!

J.T. Miller.

Just saying the name brings up a debate that becomes more heated than the never-ending Michael Del Zotto debates. A first round pick who is still just 21 years old, Miller has been touted as high as a potential 1C (not happening) to an epic bust (too soon, but also not likely). Much like the discussions about him, Miller has also played all over the place in the lineup.

But here’s what we do know about Miller: He had a great preseason, and seemed to finally take the next step after two years of bouncing back and forth from the AHL. He is close to a point-per-game in the AHL, so he has offensive talent. Prior to this season, he was also a defensive tire fire.

So what can the Rangers do with Miller?

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Lineup notes: Malone/Kostka in, Fast/Miller out

Per Seth Rothman, forward Ryan Malone will make his Rangers debut tonight against the Islanders, skating on the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Tanner Glass. Mats Zuccarello is also returning tonight, so J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast will be the healthy scratches.

Mike Kostka is skating with Marc Staal, with Kevin Klein back with John Moore. Matt Hunwick will be the odd man out.

I thought Fast was playing well enough in his role to stay in the lineup. But hey, I’m not the coach. Also, Miller hasn’t been as bad as everyone has been advertising, at least in the small sample size, since he’s the team leader in relCorsi. He certainly hasn’t been perfect, but he hasn’t been awful.

When the “top six” became the “top nine”

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

The faces of a dying breed in hockey. (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

When Lockout: The Sequel happened and wiped out the entire 2004-2005 season, the NHL was at an all time low. Too much clutch and grab, too little skill, and too many “enforcers” that couldn’t actually play the game of hockey. The game was in a bad place, and something needed to be done.

This was also the time when coaches routinely deployed their lineups in the following manner: Two scoring lines, called the top-six, one checking line, and one line of enforcers to “keep the peace.” As the game has evolved since Lockout: The Sequel through Lockout: I Can’t Believe We Are Going Through This Again, the anatomy of a lineup evolved as well.

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