With the playoffs around the corner, much of the focus for the Rangers is on Alain Vigneault’s lineup choices. Much of the lineup is set. We know 11 of the 12 forwards. We know all six defensemen. But it’s that 12th forward that is drawing a lot of attention, and it’s an emotional topic for a lot of people.
Tanner Glass is the old-school, gritty hockey player that “stands up for teammates and deters others.” While we’ve seen others on the roster (Kreider, Vesey, Smith) step up for others, the focus is always on Glass because he represents a dying breed of hockey players. What he represents is the “blue collar” player. The one who throws his body around and gets in on the forecheck.
The Rangers have recalled forward Taylor Beck from the Hartford Wolf Pack. Beck has a line of 19-44-63 in 54 AHL games with Hartford and the Bakersfield Condors this season. The Rangers acquired Beck from Edmonton in exchange for Justin Fontaine at the trade deadline. He’s been close to a point-per-game with the Pack (6-7-13) since his acquisition.
The call up of Beck means the Rangers are likely resting more players this weekend. He’s also likely the first of many to be called up to serve as the “taxi squad” during the playoffs.
The regular season is basically over at this point, at least for the Rangers. The last two games of the year are meaningless. The Blueshirts are likely going to rest their guys more over those two games, so aside from getting Henrik Lundqvist up to speed, there’s not much riding on those games.
What we do know is that the Rangers are headed to Montreal for the first round. They are going to be a tough test, since they have been playing well lately under Claude Julien. They also have Carey Price. The Blueshirts are going to need to be firing on all cylinders to beat them. But there are three keys to the Rangers’ success in the first round.
Three questions for this week’s mailbag. As always, use the mailbag feature on the right to submit your questions.
Mike asks: How far do you see the Rangers going in the playoffs this year?
Considering the matchups the Rangers are going to get (Montreal, Ottawa/Toronto), I think the Rangers have a real shot at coming out of the Atlantic to face Washington in the Eastern Conference Final. However they need to get through Montreal in the first round, and that is not going to be easy.
In a game where we all expected the Caps to score 50 goals and take 400 shots (given the defense pairs the Rangers dressed), the Rangers actually played pretty well. The Caps dressed their full roster, and the shorthanded Rangers weren’t the disaster that everyone expected. That said, they couldn’t get anything going offensively –expected with the forward lines– and the Caps eventually wore them down.
Honestly, there’s not much to really take away from this game. The Rangers sat most of their roster to give them five days off. Henrik Lundqvist looked really strong, which is the only thing I care about right now.
On to the goals:
Disclaimer: I know I’m trolling with this gif. It was a while ago and it’s still hilarious. Even the staunchest Girardi supporters have to find this to be funny. If it makes you feel any better, in one of my games I covered the puck (I’m a goalie), and shuffled it from my glove to someone who I thought was on my time. He was not. Empty net. I laugh about it now.
The Rangers are in Washington tonight to take on the Eastern Conference favorites. This is the cream of the crop. The team that is likely to come out of the East. Everything is coming up Capitals lately. Guaranteed to win the East. I think if I say this enough, I can curse them.
Tonight is another night where the Rangers take precautions and rest their stars. Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, Ryan McDonagh, and Jesper Fast (albeit not a star) are all scratched tonight. The Caps are dressing most of their ‘A’ roster, as they can clinch the President’s Trophy with a win.
Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, and Jesper Fast are confirmed to be out of the lineup tonight. All three missed practice yesterday for maintenance days. By skipping today, they are guaranteed five off days before the final two games of the season next weekend.
The lines for tonight’s game are going to be a little bit of a mess:
The defense pairs are still TBD, but expect some guys to get maintenance days.
No professional sports league has a history of shooting itself in the foot like the NHL. The NHL has had three lockouts in roughly 20 years, costing them two seasons of hockey. They are the only team to lose an entire year to a work stoppage. And that’s just part of the terrible PR the NHL contends with.
Gary Bettman has been on record stating fans don’t care about player salary information. Yet Capgeek was wildly popular and gave way to General Fanager and Cap Friendly. These are three sites that without, we would have no way of knowing a player’s impact related to salary. In a hard-cap world, player salary information is a must have.
Mats Zuccarello has been something special for the Rangers. When he first came on board, he was an unknown that was having a lot of trouble adjusting to the North American game. It wasn’t until he made the necessary adjustments (discussed in detail by Suit) that he was able to become a productive and consistent NHL player.
Fast forward to today, and Zucc is about to put together his second straight 60 point season, third if you want to round up from 59 during the 2013 season. But it’s not just the points that are impressive. Well, they are, as are those amazing passes he makes look routine and simple. But it’s the fact that he makes others around him better.
Providence Bruins 4, Hartford Wolf Pack 1
Providence, RI, April 2, 2017 – Malte Stromwall’s late third-period goal for the Hartford Wolf Pack prevented a Zane McIntyre shutout Sunday at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center Providence, but that was the only one of 24 Wolf Pack shots to get by the Providence Bruin goaltender in a 4-1 Providence victory.
Alex Grant had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, and Jake DeBrusk, Peter Mueller and Jordan Szwarz also scored. Austin Czarnik had two assists. Chris Nell made 36 saves in the Wolf Pack net.