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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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Rangers blown out in home opener loss to Leafs

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Well that was a short-lived fun experience. With all the hype of the home opener on us, the Rangers laid an egg at home, falling to the Leafs by a score of 6-3. Five second period goals were the death of the Rangers after an even first period. The Blueshirts couldn’t climb out of a 4-1 hole, and trailed 6-2 by the end of the period. Henrik Lundvist wasn’t his usual self, but the defense didn’t do him, like Cam Talbot on Saturday night, any favors.

Rick Nash scored on a beauty of a pass from Martin St. Louis, but left the game early as his wife is expecting. That didn’t help the already fatigued Rangers, who played three in four nights to start the season and are already without two of their top guys (three if you count Mats Zuccarello, who was out last night). But such is hockey, you lay eggs. Remember they stunk in October last year too.

On to the goals:

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Around the Farm: Wolf Pack win opener in OT

The Hartford Wolf Pack won their opener tonight, winning in overtime to beat Syracuse 4-3. Oscar Lindberg had a pair of goals, including the OT winner, and Mat Bodie had two assists in the victory. Chris Mueller had a goal and an assist and Marek Hrivik added another goal. Lots of prospects were in action tonight too.

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Game 3: The home opener vs Toronto

Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images

After a strong start in St. Louis, the Rangers followed suit with a poor showing in Columbus, and now come home for their home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs made #fancystats headlines when they hired Kyle Dubas, Darryl Metcalf (ExtraSkater) and two others to head up their new analytics department. They are off to a slow start though, getting outscored 9-5 in two home losses.

On the ice, the Leafs mostly rotate between an aggressive 1-2-2 forecheck  and a passive 1-2-2. However, they’ll also mix in a 2-1-2 forecheck on occassion depending on game situation. In the defensive zone, the Leafs generally play a collapsing box, which will leave the point men open for opportunities. Their powerplay (umbrella) is fairly standard. On the kill, the Leafs will rotate between PK strategies depending on opposition setup.

Rangers lineup:

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Rangers outplayed by shorthanded Blue Jackets, drop first of season

Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images

The Rangers followed up their strong effort in St. Louis with a relatively poor showing in Columbus, falling to the Blue Jackets by a score of 5-2. The Blue Jackets were able to take advantage of a lot of Ranger defensive zone breakdowns, and dominated the play for the most part. It’s worth noting that some were upset that the Rangers didn’t dress “toughness” when Chris Kreider dropped the gloves with Jack Skille. Honestly, that’s pretty irrelevant. It didn’t have an impact on the game.

Cam Talbot didn’t exactly have a strong game, but the defense in front of him was of almost no help. Kevin Klein had a particularly rough game, but only Lee Stempniak and Anthony Duclair were really noticeable in a positive way. This game highlighted how the Rangers really need their top-four defensemen to stay healthy, as Dan Boyle sits for 4-6 weeks. Will be an interesting few weeks as the Rangers deal with this.

On to the goals:

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Around the Farm: Halverson remains perfect

Brandon Halverson remains perfect this season at 6-0-0, stopping 34 of 38 shots en route to a 7-4 victory for the Soo Greyhounds. The Greyhounds and the Erie Otters (Troy Donnay’s team) are the only two teams with undefeated records in the OHL through six games.

At the time this posted, the Portland Winterhawks game did not finish.

  • OHL
    • Troy Donnay (Erie Otters, SOW 5-4): 0 G, 1 A, 5 PIM, +2
    • Ryan Mantha (Niagra Ice Dogs): 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, -1
    • Brandon Halverson (Soo Greyounds, W 7-4): 38 shots, 34 saves
  • QMJHL
    • Daniel Walcott (Blainsville-Boisbriand Armada, W 4-1): 0 G, 1 A, 0 PIM, +2
  • WHL
    • Keegan Iverson (Portland Winterhawks, trailing 2-1 in 2nd): 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM -1
  • USHL
    • Tyler Nanne (Sioux Falls Stampede, L 6-4): 1 G, 1 A, 0 PIM, -2

Game 2: Make it 2-0 to start the season against shorthanded Blue Jackets

Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images

The Rangers are in Columbus tonight to take on the Blue Jackets, who are without a lot of players. Nathan Horton, Brandon Dubinsky, and Boone Jenner are all on IR for the Jackets, and Ryan Johansen didn’t participate in camp or preseason. This is a depleted Blue Jackets squad that, regardless, should make the playoffs. Now is the time to get points against them.

Under Todd Richards, the Blue Jackets run a 2-1-2 forecheck, but with less active defensemen and a lot of dump and chase. In the DZ, CBJ uses a low zone collapse, taking out shooting lanes and protecting the house. On special teams, they run a 1-3-1 power play, and a box penalty kill.

Rangers lineup:

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Around the Farm: Donnay notches two points in OHL season debut

Troy Donnay, recently re-assigned by the Hartford Wolf Pack to the Erie Otters of the OHL for his over-age season, notched a goal and an assist while serving as alternate captain in an 8-3 win over the Kitchener Rangers last night. A lot of prospects were in action last night as well.

  • OHL
    • Troy Donnay (Erie Otters, W 8-3): 1 G, 1 A, 2 PIM, +4
    • Ryan Mantha (Niagra Icedogs, L 4-3): 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, -1
  • QMJHL
    • Daniel Walcott (Blainsville-Boisbriand Armada, SOL 6-5): 1 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, -1
  • WHL
  • USHL
    • Tyler Nanne (Sioux Falls Stampede, L 4-1): 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, -1
  • NCAA
    • Brady Skjei (Minnesota Golden Gophers, W 4-3): 0 G, 0 A, 0 PIM, Even
    • Steven Fogarty (Notre Dame Fighting Irish, L 3-2): Game stats unavailable

Lineup notes: Fast, Glass in tonight

Despite earlier reports that Tanner Glass may be out with a back injury, he will be in the lineup tonight against the shorthanded Columbus Blue Jackets. Jesper Fast, who blocked a shot awkwardly on Thursday, is also in the lineup. Both of these reports are per Andrew Gross. Cam Talbot gets the start.

Also, Matt Lombardi cleared unconditional waivers, and the Rangers will terminate his contract. This will give the Rangers much needed flexibility in the trade market.