In case you missed it, Dominic Moore was nominated for the Bill Masterton trophy yesterday, just hours after Chris wrote a solid piece on why the Rangers should re-sign him next year. The Masterton is awarded each year to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.” The nominees are selected by members of the PHWA.
Moore returned to the Rangers this year, his second stint with the team, after sitting out all of last season following the passing of his wife from a rare form of liver cancer. She was 32.
Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images
The Rangers came into Edmonton last night on the heels of an embarrassing loss in Calgary to a bad team. Edmonton, another bad team, paid the price of facing the Rangers after a bad game, and got absolutely dominated en route to a 5-0 shutout. Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello had a pair of goals a piece, Derek Stepan had three assists, and Cam Talbot made 26 saves for his third shutout of the season/career.
The Rangers controlled play from start to finish in this game, using their forecheck to force a shaky Edmonton defense into multiple turnovers that led to goals. Ben Scrivens didn’t have his best game, but the Swiss-cheese Oilers defense didn’t really help him out that much either. This was the perfect rebound game for a New York team headed to the playoffs.
On to the goals:
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Photo: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
The Rangers gave away a golden opportunity on Friday night in Calgary, and lost two important points in the race to avoid the wild card. Tonight, they face another bad team that can’t play defense in Edmonton, and would truly benefit from two points, no matter how they come. Edmonton has more weapons than Calgary, the product of years of top picks, but they haven’t been able to put it all together just yet. This isn’t a must-win, but it is certainly a should-win.
Dallas Eakins coaches the Oilers in a very similar fashion to Patrick Roy and the Avalanche, so you will see a lot of the same tonight that you did on Tuesday. 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.
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After last night’s debacle in Calgary, Alain Vigneault has decided to switch up his lines. Per Steve Zipay, the new lines are:
Dan Carcillo-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Martin St. Louis
Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Brian Boyle-Dominic Moore-Derek Dorsett
If you are perplexed about Carcillo on the top line, you should know that you are not alone. J.T. Miller was skating with the extra forwards.
Per Sean Hartnett, injured winger Chris Kreider had surgery on his hand and will be out indefinitely. Kreider was not on the road trip with the team, and will be out for at least the remainder of the regular season. Kreider’s 37 points (6th on the team) and 17 goals (3rd) leave a big hole in the lineup that will need to be filled by the snake-bitten Martin St. Louis, among others. With Kreider’s injury, it is unlikely that J.T. Miller will be returned to Hartford at all this season.
Per Pat Leonard, defenseman Justin Falk is not on this trip, as his wife is having a baby. Falk hasn’t played since December 29th, and has played just 20 games this season.
One last note: Martin Straka officially retired yesterday. In three seasons with the Rangers, Straka put up a line of 65-122-187 in 224 games.
Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America
The Rangers are on their longest winning streak of the year, rattling off five wins in a row. Tonight they look to make it six in a row in Calgary against a Flames team that will have a bunch of balls in the draft lottery this year. I would say this has all the makings of a trap game, but the next game is against Edmonton. These are two games that the Rangers need to use to build confidence as they head to the playoffs.
Bob Hartley has the Flames running a 1-2-2 forecheck that can be used aggressively or conservatively depending on the game situation (time left in period, score, puck location, etc.). In the DZ, Calgary uses a low zone collapse, taking out shooting lanes and keeping things in tight. On special teams, they run a 1-3-1 and a diamond penalty kill.
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Photo: Frank Franklin II AP
One of the many issues the Rangers have dealt with in the past is depth, specifically on the fourth line. The inconsistency is what led previous coach John Tortorella to play the line just five minutes a night (much to the chagrin of the fans). Last year saw endless combinations of Taylor Pyatt, Darroll Powe, Arron Asham, Derek Dorsett, or –in the playoffs– Brad Richards. In 2011-2012 it was some combination of Mike Rupp, John Mitchell, and a rotating right winger.
The key here is that the Brian Boyle line, whoever he was playing with, was always the third line. The Boyle, Brandon Prust, Ruslan Fedotenko line, the one we all loved so much, was playing top-nine minutes. Not to take anything away from them, as they were one of the better shutdown lines in the game, but that trio –on a deep team poised for a run to the Cup– is a fourth line. It’s something we harped on ’round these parts for about three years.
Our exact quote: “When Brian Boyle is our fourth line center, we will finally have the depth required to make a deep run.”
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Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images
The Rangers and Flyers played what will probably be a first round preview, as these teams appear destined to square off in April when the playoffs open. The Rangers came out a bit flat, but weathered the early storm from Philly before breaking through for a 1-0 lead at the end of the first. The Rangers settled after that, and started controlling the game, forcing the Flyers into some turnovers with a good forecheck and solid neutral zone play.
Henrik Lundqvist was his usual strong self, stopping 30 of 31 shots and really bailing this team out after the sluggish start. The Rangers defense shined throughout this game, completely shutting down a very potent Flyers offense. The Rangers got more offensive from their defense (Ryan McDonagh, as per usual), and even more offense from their fourth line.
On to the goals (no pictures this time, sorry folks):
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Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
At this point in the season, it is all but guaranteed that the Rangers and Flyers will meet in the first round of the playoffs. Both teams have a > 95% chance of making the playoffs, with the Rangers at 98%. They have a 69% chance of meeting in the first round. Both teams are red-hot right now, with the Rangers winning four in a row and the Flyers on an 8-2-1 streak. New York is without Chris Kreider for an extended period of time, and this looks to be the exact matchup we will see in the first round.
The Flyers play a 2-1-2 forecheck, and once they get a late lead, they switch to a more conservative 1-1-3 left wing lock. In their own zone, the Flyers play a mix of zone and man-on-man defense, depending on puck location.On special teams, the Flyers run a 1-3-1 and an umbrella power play and a diamond force penalty kill with the strong side forward looking to pressure the point.
Rangers Lineup (unconfirmed, won’t know until game time):
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Per Steve Zipay, Martin St. Louis will replace the injured Chris Kreider on the Rangers’ top line with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash tonight against Philly. Zipay also noted that this likely means the recently recalled J.T. Miller will slide into the Derick Brassard line.
Dan Carcillo is a scratch as well tonight, as he has the flu.