Archive for Game Thread
After Tuesday’s embarrassing loss in Pittsburgh, the Rangers are home to face a Minnesota Wild team that is turning heads. They are tied with the Rangers in goal differential (+33), and are doing it with solid overall defense. The Wild have allowed just 62 goals all season, second to Columbus (wow). But the Wild have scored just 95 goals. So they are stifling other teams and winning low scoring affairs.
The Rangers will need to solve Devan Dubnyk to win this game, which has proven to be difficult for every other NHL team. With no set lineup as of the writing of this post, we don’t know which forwards are healthy or which defensemen will actually play. There’s a lot of variables heading into this game, but what does play into the Rangers’ favor is that Minnesota is playing the second of a back-to-back.
The Rangers, fresh –and I use that word loosely– off their dramatic win against the Devils on Sunday, have a date with the defending Stanley Cup champs tonight. The teams split the home-and-home in November, with each team looking dominant in the other’s home. The Pens are still the gold standard for teams, as they look to see if they can skate with a team showing no signs of slowing down in their quest for another Cup.
As for the Rangers, this is going to be a big test. They are getting crushed by injuries, missing a pair of top-six forwards and another top-nine forward. They certainly have the depth to withstand it, but the Pens are a whole different breed. They have four talented lines, like the Rangers, and can give the Rangers fits. We saw it last month. The increased focus on team defense is going to get a major test tonight.
For the second straight Sunday, the Rangers and Devils are facing off at MSG. Last week, the Rangers steamrolled the Devils to a 5-0 win. Don’t expect the same results this time though. The Devils have a great goaltender, which gives them a shot to win every game. However the rest of the team is mediocre at best as they rebuild.
As for the Rangers, they’ve won five of six while scoring fewer than three goals in four of those five wins. The team defense is coming around, and Henrik Lundqvist seems to have gotten past his early season struggles. With the Penguins and Blue Jackets breathing down their necks, the Rangers could use the two points to keep up.
After a strong win in Dallas the other night, the Rangers are in Nashville looking to continue their ride of solid process on the ice. With the good process has come wins and points in the standings, and perhaps more importantly has helped decrease the impact of the PDO crash the Rangers are going through. The shooting success has died off, as expected, but the improved process compared to a few weeks ago has been a nice relief.
As for Nashville, P.K. Subban was not at practice today, and is likely a game time decision. Even if he’s out the Preds still have a solid blue line, and their forwards have some pretty decent skill up and down the lineup. This might be another game that comes down to goaltending. A re-energized Henrik Lundqvist will look to continue his solid play in Dallas, while Nashville sends a rookie between the pipes.
After winning three in a row, the Rangers’ offense dried up at MSG as they lost to the Blackhawks and snapped their streak. Now the Rangers are in Dallas to take on a very potent Stars offense. I say potent because their 81 goals are actually middle of the road, but that top line can score almost at will. Their defense and goaltending has been killing them, and it’s why they are trailing teams like Edmonton and Calgary.
With a defense and goaltender that are ripe for the picking, the Rangers are getting healthy at the perfect time. Rick Nash will be back in the lineup tonight, hopefully to bring some balance to the
force top-six. The Stars are at the bottom of the league with 98 goals allowed. It would be great to see the Rangers light them up early and often. But remember, Dallas can score.
The Rangers have one three in a row, and haven’t allowed a goal since they were in Winnipeg. That stretch includes a 1-0 blanking of the Blackhawks in Chicago, a game that Nick Holden won in overtime. That game was fun to watch, with both goalies playing stellar hockey. The venue switches to The Garden tonight, as the Rangers look to sweep the always dangerous Hawks.
The same analysis of the Hawks from last week still applies, however it’s Corey Crawford in net this time. The Hawks are still nursing some injuries, as are the Rangers. Both teams like to trade chances, which plays to the Rangers’ advantage, as they have a full four lines of skill. The Hawks have just three. The game is going to come down to who converts on their chances.
The Rangers have won two in a row, their first two wins of the season without scoring three goals. Antti Raanta has been phenomenal while Henrik Lundqvist works out the kinks, and will get his third straight start tonight. As stated before, there is no goalie controversy in New York. Lundqvist is still the go-to guy, but Raanta will play as long as he is stellar.
As for the Devils, well they can’t score, even with a dangerous top-six forward group. They are in the bottom-third of the league in goals-for, and bottom-half in PP%. However they have a great goalie and solid defense. With the banged up forwards for the Rangers, it might be another low scoring affair. However I don’t think it will be as exciting as the Chicago game.
After playing in Winnipeg last night, the Rangers are in Chicago tonight to take on the Blackhawks. That’s a lot of travel for an injury riddled team. But on the bright side, the Hawks are just as injured (no Jonathan Toews), and are playing Scott Darling over Corey Crawford. That gives the Rangers a good chance at winning the second of back-to-backs, as the Hawks are not that deep.
However, while the Hawks are not deep, they have an incredible top end of the lineup. Their top line can basically score at will, and any line with Marian Hossa is a danger to score as well. The defense is going to have to contain those top-six, and Henrik Lundqvist is going to have to be stronger than he has been to start the season. But this is a very winnable game.
The Rangers have had a rough stretch, going 4-5-1 in their last ten while playing some pretty ugly hockey. Given the significance of the injuries, it can be said that staying around hockey .500 is a win for this club. In my humble opinion, the injuries and inconsistent goaltending –based on what we are used to from Henrik Lundqvist– has made the flaws of the team more obvious. That said, the Rangers did play better in Brooklyn, so that’s a start.
As for the Jets, they are dealing with injuries of their own, which has led to a relatively unbalanced lineup. Throw in some pretty rough goaltending, and you have a team that the Rangers should be able to pick apart. That said, the Jets are still at hockey .500 at 13-13-3, and they have a very talented top-six that can make slow defenses pay.
Until the Rangers get fully healthy, expect more of the same from them. Consistently inconsistent.
The Rangers are in the middle of their worst stretch of the season, in terms of on-ice performance, and it’s shown itself in the standings with a 4-4-1 record in their last nine games. Apart from inconsistent play, the Rangers have seen their speed game neutralized due to injuries and blue line regression. It’s eerily similar to last year, but the special teams have been a major source of happiness of late.
And perhaps it’s on special teams that the Rangers will need to take care of business tonight. The Rangers hold top-ten powerplay and penalty kill units, while the Isles are last on the powerplay and 18th on the penalty kill. Couple that with very weak forward lines, and the Isles are a team that the Rangers should be able to dominate. But then again, the Isles always play the Rangers tough, so you never really know. A consistent 60 minute effort would be super, though.