Category: Game Thread

Game 75: Keep rolling in Calgary, make it six in a row

Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America

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.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 74: First round preview against Philly

Photo: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

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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Game 73: Keep rolling against Phoenix

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images

The Rangers may be shorthanded tonight, with both Derek Stepan and Martin St. Louis battling flu symptoms. J.T. Miller has been recalled on an emergency basis in case both are unavailable. Regardless, the Rangers are heading into tonight with a firm grasp on the #3 seed in the Metropolitan Division. Minnesota Phoenix is no pushover, and is playing desperate hockey as they try to squeeze into the Western Conference wild card spot.

Under Mike Yeo, the Wild run a 1-2-2 forecheck which they use aggressively or conservatively depending on game situation. In the defensive zone they use a low zone collapse pretty much exclusively. The Wild prefer to attack the blue line with speed so the Rangers are going to have to be good defending the rush tonight and not leaving Talbot on an island. On special teams, the Wild run an umbrella power play and a diamond force penalty kill.

On the ice, Dave Tippett runs a very conservative style of play. The Coyotes run a 1-2-2 hybrid trap, which is something they’ve been running for some time down in the desert. They aren’t anything out of they ordinary when it comes to defensive zone schemes (zone defense), power play strategies (umbrella), or penalty kill formations (hybrid, depends on puck location/situation). This is a very passive hockey club that will capitalize on mistakes in the neutral zone.

My bad on this one folks. I need a vacation.

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Game 72: Build on the big win against the Devils

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

Last night, the Rangers went out and beat a Columbus Blue Jackets team that was ahead of them in the standings with games in hand. Now, the Rangers hold a two point lead on the Jackets (yes, they still have a game in hand) and have the tiebreakers (ROW, head to head record) as well. As long as this club continues winning and getting points, the Blue Jackets will not be able to catch them. The Devils are tonight’s opponent, and building on that big win against a non-playoff team is critical.

The Devils employ a 1-2-2 forecheck which they’ll use aggressively in the offensive zone or passively in the neutral zone as a trap depending on game situation. In the defensive zone, Deboer employs a hybrid overload/zone defensive system depending on whether the puck is along the boards or at mid-ice.

On special teams, the Devils employ an umbrella/1-3-1 power playOn the penalty kill, the Devs rotate between a box and a diamond depending on puck location and the setup of the opposition.

Rangers Lineup (confirmed):

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Game 71: You guys really need to beat the Blue Jackets

Image from LoHud

Image from LoHud

Tonight it probably one of the biggest games of the year. The Rangers and Blue Jackets have been flip-flopping in the standings for a few months now. This time around, they are jockeying for playoff position –specifically avoiding a date with the Penguins or Bruins in the first round. Should the Rangers win, they will be two points up on CBJ with both tiebreakers, but the Jackets will have a game in hand. This is also Rick Nash’s return to Columbus, so there will be a bit of drama mixed in.

Under Todd Richards, the Blue Jackets run a 2-1-2 forecheck, but with less active defensemen. 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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Game 70: Senators vs. Rangers

Photo: Star Ledger

Photo: Star Ledger

Just when you think the Rangers have righted the ship, a goalie like Antii Niemi steals one for the opposition, and the Rangers are again left without points. That comfy second-place cushion is gone, and the Rangers are barely in a playoff spot. The Flyers and Blue Jackets have two games in hand, and the Caps are breathing down the Blueshirts’ necks. The Rangers have the benefit of a weak schedule over the last 13 games, but they need points. That needs to begin tonight against Ottawa.

The Sens forechecking strategy is a bit complex, as they are a hybrid forechecking/lock team. When they are trailing or tied, they’ll send two or three guys after the puck in a 2-1-2 formation. When they are ahead though, they lock it up with a 1-1-3 forecheck, a variation of the 2-3 lock. They are an overload/zone defense team depending on puck location. On special teams, they run a standard umbrella power play, but run a hybrid PK (box, diamond, wedge+1) depending on puck location and opposition formation.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 69: Redemption against San Jose

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The last time the Rangers faced San Jose, they lost 9-2 in an absolute embarrassment of a game. This time around, it will be different (hopefully). The Sharks are no longer the white-hot team that steamrolled the opposition in October. After their absurd start, they have fallen off a bit. They are still playing great hockey, but they aren’t blowing opponents away anymore. The Rangers have found their game, although they might have misplaced it this month. Either way, that 9-2 drubbing is definitely fresh on the minds of this Rangers club.

On the ice, coach Todd McLellan has his Sharks mostly running an aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck, but will mix in some 1-2-2 depending on game situation. In the defensive zone schemes they overload the boards and play zone defense when the puck is at the points or down low. The power play is a 1-3-1 and their penalty kill formations are hybrid (depends on puck location/opposition setup).

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 68: Right the ship in Winnipeg

Photo: Star Ledger

Photo: Star Ledger

The Rangers are struggling just a bit in March, dropping two in a row and five of seven this month. Winnipeg is one of the many teams the Rangers face this month that will not be in the playoffs. In the span of those seven games, we saw them drop from second in the Metro to barely holding on to third place –two games in hand and one point up– and likely headed to a wild card spot. Suffice it to say, the Rangers need to start playing strong hockey again and get points against non-playoff teams.

I haven’t seen much of the Jets under Paul Maurice, but Claude Noel (since fired) had the Jets playing a 1-2-2 forecheck. Their game plan was generally to sick back and score off of transition rushes or by crashing the net after point shots. They played a low zone collapse/box+1 with four players low and one skater free to pressure the points. On special teams, the Jets ran an umbrella power play and a hybrid penalty kill.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 66: Minny is good, please don’t come out flat again

I felt like finding the most dated picture I could.

I felt like finding the most dated picture I could (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images North America).

The Rangers came out flat in Carolina, and they were just dominated in every facet of the game. They didn’t deserve to win that game, but they can’t repeat that kind of effort tonight against a dangerous Minnesota team. I use the term dangerous loosely, as they can’t score, but they are still a team bound for the playoffs (likely). The goaltending situation in Minnesota is pretty dire, as Josh Harding and Niklas Backstrom are sidelined. Ilya Bryzgalov is the guy backstopping the Wild now.

Under Mike Yeo, the Wild run a 1-2-2 forecheck which they use aggressively or conservatively depending on game situation. In the defensive zone they use a low zone collapse pretty much exclusively. The Wild prefer to attack the opposition’s blueline with speed so the Rangers are going to have to be good defending the rush tonight and not leaving Talbot on an island. On special teams, the Wild run an umbrella power play and a diamond force penalty kill.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 65: Lundqvist eyes Richter against Carolina

Photo: Star Ledger

Photo: Star Ledger

The Rangers need another two points against Carolina tonight. That much is a given. But there is another story happening here. Henrik Lundqvist notched win #300 against Detroit on Sunday, and he goes for Mike Richter’s Ranger-record #301 tonight. Hank and Richter are the only two goaltenders in Rangers history with 300 wins, and it is a lock that Hank will eventually pass Richter.

As for the opposition, since there is more to this game than the record, the Canes play a bit of a hybrid forechecking system. They play an aggressive 2-3 to start the game, but will switch to a trap late in the game with a lead. In the defensive zone , they run box + 1 system, which is a box setup in front with a player pressuring depending on the puck location. On special teams, the Canes run an umbrella powerplay and a hybrid  penalty kill (varies between the systems based on puck location).

Rangers Lineup:

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