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Category: Game Thread

Game 19: Home whites for Philly

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Perhaps the New York Rangers just need to get a game in against a rival to break their current slump. The Philadelphia Flyers are that kind of team, and perhaps the Rangers will show up for this one. Perhaps, since the Flyers are shorthanded –without Claude Giroux– the Rangers will dominate the game. It’s a lot of “perhaps” because we really don’t know which team will show up.

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:

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Game 18: Callahan, Boyle, Stralman return to MSG

Photo: NHL.com

Photo: NHL.com

Tonight’s game against the Tamp Bay Lightning comes with some added drama. Former captain Ryan Callahan, Brian Boyle, and Anton Stralman all make their MSG returns after departing the club last season. Cally left in the MSL trade, and Boyle/Stralman joined him via free agency. Cally played most of his first eight years in New York, and was named captain after Chris Drury was bought out. Boyle (five years) and Stralman (three years) revived their careers on Broadway under John Tortorella. All three were key cogs in making hockey relevant in New York once again.

As for the team itself, Jon Cooper has the Lightning playing a pretty similar system as the Rangers. They run an overload 1-2-2 forecheck, but will mix in a 2-1-2 as well. In the defensive zone, they mix zone and overload coverage depending on puck location. On special teams, they run a 1-3-1 power play and rotate between a diamond and box penalty kill depending on opposition setup.

Rangers lineup:

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Game 17: Make it five in a row against the Penguins

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Jared Silber/NHLI via Getty Images

The New York Rangers are in Pittsburgh for the first time since Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semis last year, and just four days after blowing out the Pens 5-0 at MSG. The Rangers have won four straight against the Pittsburgh Penguins, dating back to the playoffs last year, and have allowed just three goals in those four games. But, the Rangers blew a golden opportunity to build on that shutout against Colorado on Thursday. So, it’s tough to know what to expect from this team tonight.

The Penguins are playing a different system under Mike Johnston than it did under Bylsma. Similar to the Rangers, Johnston has Pittsburgh running a stacked 1-2-2 forecheck. They run a hybrid low zone collapse/strong side overload in the defensive zone, a 1-3-1/umbrella power play and a hybrid penalty kill.

There are no changes to the lineup from the past two games, which means Anthony Duclair is still a healthy scratch for some inexplicable reason.

Rangers lineup:

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Game 16: Dan Boyle returns against Colorado

Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images North America

Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images North America

Two days after blowing out the Pittsburgh Penguins, the pretty bad Colorado Avalanche are in town after being blown out by the New York Islanders. The Avs fall from grace was predicted by everyone who has some grasp of #fancystats, but they are still a pretty talented team that can put pucks in the net. However, they can’t play defense and are one of the worst possession teams in the league.

On the ice, the Avs run a very aggressive style of play. On the forecheck it is a straight 2-1-2 without sitting on leads. In the defensive zone, the Avs play man-on-man down low with the defense and center, while the wingers play zone. On special teams, the Avs run a 1-3-1 power play and a hybrid penalty kill depending on puck location.

Rangers lineup:

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Game 15: Please try against the Penguins?

Photo: SI.com

Photo: SI.com

After a pretty disastrous showing this weekend, in which the New York Rangers seemingly forgot how to hockey in losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers, the division rival Pittsburgh Penguins are in town with their +28 goal differential. The Pens are dealing with some injuries –not nearly as many as the Rangers, though– but managed to address most of their issues in the offseason. They acquired much-needed depth in Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling (for James Neal). They signed Christian Ehrhoff to address defensive needs as well.

The Penguins are playing a different system under Mike Johnston than it did under Bylsma. Similar to the Rangers, Johnston has Pittsburgh running a stacked 1-2-2 forecheck. They run a hybrid low zone collapse/strong side overload in the defensive zone, a 1-3-1/umbrella power play and a hybrid penalty kill.

Rangers lineup:

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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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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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Game 12: Treading water against Detroit

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Rangers managed to grab two points in two games with just two of their opening night defensemen on the roster. It may not seem like much, but I’ll take it. With Kevin Klein coming back tonight, the Rangers are now dressing three of those opening night defensemen, so that’s progress. Plus Mats Zuccarello is back, so that’s always nice to see. At 5-4-2 with players returning from injury, the Rangers handled this horrible stretch rather well, and they will look to keep getting points against the always dangerous Red Wings.

Mike Babcock has his boys playing a 2-1-2 forecheck, but mix in a LW lock depending on game situation. In their own zone, Detroit plays a straight up zone defense. On the PP, the Wings employ an umbrella and a 1-3-1 formation, but will use Zetterberg as a rover. He’s all over the zone. On the penalty kill they change up their strategy depending on the opposition’s setup.

Rangers lineup:

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Game 11: Preseason lineups against the Blues

Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

The New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues are at it again tonight for the second and final time this season, but it sure won’t look like it on the ice. The Rangers are missing 66% of their starting blue line, and the Blues have all come down with a bacterial infection that has half the lineup out. It will be a battle of the preseason rosters for teams that have issues scoring tonight, so naturally there are going to be 11 goals scored tonight.

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 (Zucc is a game time decision):

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Game 10: Winnipeg gonna Winnipeg

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS

JOHN WOODS / THE CANADIAN PRESS

The Winnipeg Jets are in town tonight, and the Rangers are “fresh” off a five goal third period that led to a win over a good Minnesota Wild team. Four days after that, Ondrej Pavelec will try to keep the Rangers at bay. Naturally, since it’s the Jets before the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday, this has the potential to be a trap game. The Jets aren’t good, the Leafs are a conference opponent.

Suit’s system preview:

The Jets play a 1-2-2 forecheck which can be used aggressively or conservatively depending on game situation (e.g., puck location, matchup, time left on the clock, score, etc.). In the defensive zone, the Jets play a zone defense, with five skaters getting sticks and bodies in lanes.

On special teams, the Jets play an umbrella PP and will look to crash the net after a shot. On the PK, the Jets play a rotating box and look to defend homeplate. For more on the systems, click here.

Rangers lineup:

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