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Rangers recall Fast, demote Malone/Allen

The New York Rangers have assigned forward Ryan Malone and defenseman Conor Allen to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. The club also recalled forward Jesper Fast, who put up 1-8-9 in 11 games with Hartford since his demotion last month.

Malone was waived earlier this month, cleared, but hung around with the club for a few days before this demotion. Allen didn’t look out of place, but the returning John Moore meant it was between him and Matt Hunwick. That move I don’t necessarily agree with, there was no harm in seeing what else Allen had. He had been better than both Hunwick and Mike Kostka. But hey, I’m a blogger.

Fixing the fourth line

(Photo: Blueshirts United)

Photo: Blueshirts United

All season long, the Rangers have had some serious issues with the fourth line. It’s not really a surprise, since the Rangers have used nine different players on that line already. Nine. Tanner Glass, Dominic Moore, Jesper Fast, J.T. Miller, Ryan Malone, Chris Mueller, Lee Stempniak, Kevin Hayes, Anthony Duclair. Suffice it to say: That’s a lot of forwards used on a line that was a huge strength for the club last year.

Out of those nine, four are rookies, three are in the AHL, two are retreads that probably shouldn’t be on an NHL roster, one’s a possession anchor that shouldn’t be on a roster, and two more shouldn’t be on a fourth line (top-nine only). It’s a mess, but it’s a fixable mess. In fact, it’s easily fixable.

Step One: Enough with the retreads.

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Game 14: Rebound against Edmonton

Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

After a pretty terrible defensive letdown last night in Toronto, the New York Rangers come home tonight to take on a pretty bad Edmonton Oilers team. The Oilers can’t play defense, but are incredibly dangerous and skilled up front. Considering the current state of the Rangers blue line, the forwards are going to have to be much better tonight. The Rangers really need these two points against a bad team.

On the forecheck they run an aggressive spread 2-1-2 without sitting on leads. The Oilers play a man-on-man, zone defense hybrid depending on puck location. On special teams, they run a 1-3-1 power play and rotate between a box and diamond penalty kill depending on puck location.

Rangers Lineup:

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Defense fails Rangers against Leafs

Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images

Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images

After dropping into a 3-1 hole in the first period behind some spectacularly bad defense, the Rangers fought back and took the lead with three straight goals. Then two straight Toronto goals in the third led to the Rangers first regulation loss since the Montreal game on October 25. I DVR’d MSG instead of MSG2 last night, so there’s no goal breakdown, but I’m able to get my incoherent thoughts on paper. Bullet points are fun, right?

  • Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Someone needs to teach me how to DVR properly.
  • I’m still trying to figure out why Chris Kreider wasn’t on the ice when the Rangers pulled the goalie, but both Matt Hunwick and Dan Girardi were. I understand that the Rangers are shorthanded on the blue line, but if that’s the case, then put your best scoring threats out there. Kreider and Mats Zuccarello were on the pine when the Rangers needed a goal.
  • Hunwick and Girardi paired up for the awful giveaway (Hunwick) and snow angel (Girardi) that led to the Leo Komorav game winner. First, Hunwick basically just passed the puck to Jake Gardiner. Then as Gardiner walked in at a bad angle, Girardi left Komarov in the slot to snow angel towards Gardiner. He neither stopped the shot nor the pass, and Komarov had an easy game winner.

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Game 13: Stepan returns in Toronto

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

The first big injury has finally run its course, and Derek Stepan returns to the lineup tonight against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stepan has been out since September with a fractured fibula, and will fill a gaping hole at 1C and address the issue that has been the center position all season long. Stepan will be flanked by Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello, as Alain Vigneault doesn’t want to break up the Nash-Brassard-MSL line yet.

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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BSB Daily Fanduel: 11/7

We are continuing with our Fanduel leagues on days where there are more than 3-4 games being played. We’ve also upped the league size to 10 players, with the top-3 finishing in the money for your $2 buy-in (we aren’t exactly rich here). We will continue to expand league size as interest grows, but we seem to have a stream of 5-7 steady players and a few others that have expressed interest.

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.

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

You can sign up for Fanduel by clicking here. The league link is here.

Trade(s) re-review: The Rick Nash/Marian Gaborik swap

Nash is integral to the Rangers hopes for 2015

Nash.

For all intents and purposes, the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers swapped star wingers over two trades in the span of a year. The Rangers sent a package of players for Rick Nash in the summer of 2012. Eight months later, the Jackets sent a package of players to the Rangers for Marian Gaborik. It was rather comical, since it basically wound up being a Nash for Gaborik swap, but the other pieces turned out to be important as well.

July 24, 2012: Rangers send Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon, and a 2013 1st round pick to CBJ for Rick Nash, Steven Delisle, and a 2013 3rd round pick.

Starting with what the Rangers acquired, Nash has been a sore spot for people, and I don’t really see why. After putting up 21-21-42 in 44 games during the lockout shortened season, Nash suffered a pair of concussions in 2013-2014, limiting him to 65 games and a line of 26-13-39. The concussions affected his play on the ice, but Nash still managed to produce close to his career average in goals and SH%, he just did it from the perimeter instead of attacking the net. However, those issues appear to be behind him, as he has 10 goals in 12 games this year already.

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Practice notes: Boyle in regular jersey, Kaberle at practice

Per Andrew Gross, Dan Boyle, out since the season opener with a fractured right hand, was in a regular practice jersey this morning. He was skating with Tomas Kaberle, who is joining Ranger practices without a contract. Boyle may not play tomorrow, but it looks like he will be set to return next week. Considering the state of the blue line, his return can’t come soon enough.

The lines and defensive pairs were switched up a bit as well:

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Martin St. Louis
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin-Dominic Moore-Lee Stempniak
Tanner Glass-Kevin Hayes-Anthony Duclair

Marc Staal-Kevin Klein
Conor Allen-Dan Girardi
Matt Hunwick-Mike Kostka

Boyle’s return would spell the end of Kostka in the lineup. It’s good to see Stepan back in the lineup too, but I don’t know if putting Glass with two rookies is the wisest move for the fourth line.

Conor Allen showing John Moore’s spot is not guaranteed

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

When the Rangers blue line finally gets healthy, the assumption has always been that John Moore will be the LD on the third pairing. It’s tough to argue with that, as the one prospect who appears NHL ready is currently playing at the University of Minnesota (Brady Skjei). Conor Allen, in preseason, was seemingly beat out by Dylan McIlrath as the 7D (both were sent to the AHL for Matt Hunwick, since the kids need playing time). Moore’s spot appeared to be safe.

Allen, recalled due to the Moore suspension and the injury to Ryan McDonagh, looked steady in his two games this year. He’s not flashy by any stretch, but he reminds me of a right-handed Anton Stralman. If you recall, Stralman didn’t show up on the scoreboard, but he always made the smart, short, easy pass to move the puck out of the zone. It’s something that is greatly under appreciated because it is such a subtle play. Allen showed a lot of those qualities when I watched him.

Naturally I’m a bit of a nerd, so I took to the numbers to see if what I saw matches what was produced on the ice.

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BSB Fanduel League: 11/6

We are continuing with our Fanduel leagues on days where there are more than 3-4 games being played. We’ve also upped the league size to 10 players, with the top-3 finishing in the money for your $2 buy-in (we aren’t exactly rich here). We will continue to expand league size as interest grows, but we seem to have a stream of 5-7 steady players and a few others that have expressed interest.

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. For some reason Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the most expensive goalies in the league, so higher prices don’t necessarily mean better players.

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

You can sign up for Fanduel by clicking here. The league link is here.