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Matt Lombardi on unconditional waivers to terminate contract

The Rangers have placed center Matt Lombardi on unconditional waivers, with the intent on terminating his contract, per Renaud Lavoie. Sounds like Lombardi didn’t want to play in the AHL, and will likely go back to Switzerland. Lombardi was given a two-year deal by the Rangers as insurance for the 3C position, but was beaten out by J.T. Miller.

Lombardi and Steven Kampfer are in the running for shortest Ranger careers ever.

Rangers recall Mike Kostka

It comes with no surprise that the Rangers have recalled defenseman Mike Kostka from the Hartford Wolf Pack. With Dan Boyle out, the Rangers were short one right-handed defenseman, and Kosta was the only logical choice to fill in at the moment (Dylan McIlrath needs top minutes in the AHL).

Matt Hunwick is a left-handed shot, which is why he probably won’t get the look right away.

Top line makes a statement in win over St. Louis

Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

How about that win by your New York Rangers? This was a hard fought game against one of the top teams in the West, and the Rangers found a way to answer back twice after tying goals from St. Louis. Lee Stempniak had a very strong debut game, but the big line had a big game. Rick Nash had a pair of goals and an assist, Chris Kreider had a goal and an assist, and Martin St. Louis added an assist. All three goals were at even strength as well.

The Rangers weren’t perfect. They turned the puck over a bunch of times in the defensive zone, but the Blues have a good forecheck and are quick to the puck/body. It’s why they are one of the best in the West. But the Blues also had trouble dealing with the Ranges speed, their best weapon. This was a solid test for the Rangers, showing they can skate with the best even without their 1C and without their 4D for the third period.

On to the goals:

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Dan Boyle breaks hand, out 4-6 weeks

Dan Boyle has broken his hand, and will be out 4-6 weeks, per Pat Leonard. Boyle blocked a Jori Lehtera shot early in the third, and took his last shift one minute later. Suffice it to say: with Derek Stepan already out, this is another big blow.

Game 1: Season opener in St. Louis

Photo: NJ Star Ledger

Photo: NJ Star Ledger

Hockey season is here after a short summer break, and the Rangers are in St. Louis to take on the Blues in what’s going to be a tough season opener. The Blues are very good, with a strong defense and much more balanced scoring since the acquisition of Paul Stastny. Goaltending is a question though, as Brian Elliott isn’t the best goalie in the world, and Jake Allen is unproven. Of course, the Rangers are starting the season without Derek Stepan and with a few questions of their own.

On the ice, Ken Hitchcock has the Blues running an aggressive 2-1-2 overload forecheck, but tend to switch to a 1-2-2 with a lead late in the period, though the way the Rangers are playing there’s probably no point on sitting back. They are fairly aggressive when it comes to defensive zone schemes, playing an overload style and collapsing down when the puck is down low. Their power play strategy is a 1-3-1, and their penalty kill formation is a hybrid.

Rangers lineup:

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Opening Night Musings: Strengths, questions, and more heading into the 2014-2015 season

Elsa/Getty Images

Elsa/Getty Images

Tonight is opening night, and if you haven’t caught the systems preview, you should. The Rangers are in St. Louis tonight, Columbus on Saturday, and then open at home on Sunday against Toronto. Chris is hung up at work, so you all have to suffer through a musings with me.

  • There are a lot of questions about the center depth for this club. It’s something I brought up last month, and that was before the injury to Derek Stepan. The fact is that the Rangers have a winger playing center (Martin St. Louis), and a rookie as the pivot for the third line. Even when Stepan returns, you have the same concern about J.T. Miller’s future at 3C, and whether or not Derick Brassard can handle 2C competition.
  • As for Miller, the reason why I think he’s best off as a winger is because of the defensive responsibilities of the center position compared to the wing. He’s been vastly improved this season, but until he proves he can handle the defensive responsibilities on a consistent basis, there will be questions about his ability to play 3C and the Rangers center depth as a whole.

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2014-2015 Rangers season preview

AV will look to return to the Stanley Cup Final this year.

AV will look to return to the Stanley Cup Final this year.

Today is the first day of the season for the Rangers, as they are in St. Louis to take on the Blues at 8pm tonight. The Rangers are doing so shorthanded, without top line center Derek Stepan, but they boast a team filled with incredible speed. They will use that speed to blow past defenders and generate offensive chances, both by dumping the puck in and by gaining the zone via carry in.

Despite the roster turnover, the Rangers kept the core intact, and managed to replace those that left with –mostly– kids from the system. The good news is that unlike last year, this team won’t go through the growing pains of a new coach and drastically new systems to learn. Let’s go over those systems.

Forecheck:

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Around the Farm: Halverson remains perfect

Brandon Halverson improved to 5-0-0 tonight, as the Soo Greyounds pounced on the Sudbury Wolves by a score of 6-1. The Greyhounds limited the Wolves to just 16 shots on goal, in which Halverson stopped 15 of them. Halverson was the only prospect in action today.

  •  OHL
    • Brandon Halverson (Soo Greyhounds): 16 shots, 15 saves

New Rangers lines expecting different deployment strategies

Rick Nash is Canadian for frustrating.

Really need a big year from you buddy.

If there was one thing proven about Alain Vigneault’s coaching style over the years, it’s that he tactically deploys his lines (after a whistle) depending on the zone start and the opposing line sent out. Last year we saw the Brian Boyle-Dominic Moore-Derek Dorsett line get the majority of their starts in the defensive zone, while the Mats Zuccarello-Derick Brassard-Benoit Pouliot line received primarily offensive zone starts. It is a common practice among coaches.

This year the lines have been shaken up with the turnover, and the matchups will likely change, both in zone starts and in quality of competition faced. Using the lines from practice the past few days, we can make some guesses.

Chris Kreider-Martin St. Louis-Rick Nash

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Rangers assign Chris Mueller to Hartford

With the Rangers in need of dropping one more forward to get to the 23 man roster (deadline was 5pm today), the Rangers assigned forward Chris Mueller to the Hartford Wolf Pack. Mueller was waived yesterday and cleared today, but was not immediately assigned to the AHL.

This likely means that Kevin Hayes will not head to the IR, as had been speculated.