Archive for Game Thread

Dec
29

Game 38: Vinny Lettieri’s debut

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Credit: AP / Paul Sancya)

After a much better performance against Washington on Wednesday, the Rangers are in Detroit to try to build on that win. The biggest change in that game was the improved play at their own blue line. The Rangers stood up and didn’t allow controlled zone entries. That stymied the Caps’ high powered offense.

The other big change was the controlled exits once they had the puck. The Caps weren’t playing aggressively, so the Rangers didn’t have to constantly flip the puck out of the DZ and hope their forwards chased it down. That’s the type of hockey the Rangers are going to need to play to be successful. Luckily Detroit isn’t that good, so they have another game to practice it.

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Dec
27

Game 37: Return to action

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NashOrpik caps

After a much needed holiday break, the Rangers are back in action tonight against the Washington Capitals. The Caps are back to full health, and while the Rangers always play them tough, aren’t going to be a push over. This is a high powered offense with decent defense and solid goaltending. In theory, they are a Cup contender.

The Rangers are without Jesper Fast and have put the lines through a blender after playing miserable hockey before the break. This is a team that has not only been getting outshot badly, but has looked awful in the process. The first step is to get back to not getting out shot by 50. Baby steps.

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mats zuccarello

The Rangers host the Leafs tonight, a team they lost 8-5 to in October. I’m not expecting the same outcome –Henrik Lundqvist is playing much better– but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Rangers get dominated again. They’ve played like poop over the past few games, with their goaltending and offense bailing out their horrendous defense.

But hey, just win, amirite? I’d love to see better process, since that is a better indicator of future (read: playoff) success. Toronto is a good team to get back into the swing of things. If anything, this game is going to be a ton of fun to watch. Both teams have high powered offenses. Should be a back and forth game.

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Dec
21

Game 35: Targeting four in a row

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rangers devils mats zuccarello

The Rangers have won three in a row and are fully healthy. Sure doesn’t feel like it, though. The Blueshirts, despite their recent runs through November and December, are still in the wild card spot. It shows how tough that Metro Division is, and how important games like tonight against the Devils are.

This is another critical four point swing game in a division where every point matters. The Blueshirts have a chance to leap frog the Devils in the standings tonight. This is the best time to play them too, as they’ve been mediocre at best and riding Cory Schneider for quite some time. It’s similar to the way the Rangers ride Hank, but without the scoring skill throughout the lineup. This is a winnable game.

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Dec
19

Game 34: Start the week off right

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AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

After two wins to close out last week and a tough 6-in-9 stretch, the Rangers got two much needed days off. Tonight they host the Ducks, fresh off their acquisition of Adam Henrique. Henrique was a much needed add for the Ducks, who were even thinner at center than the Rangers.

As for the Blueshirts, they are finally getting Mika Zibanejad back on the top line with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich. David Desharnais replaces Boo Nieves on the fourth line for some reason. Likely because we can’t have nice things.

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Dec
16

Game 33: Matinee(ish) in Boston

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rangers bruins jimmy vesey

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

After last night’s win against the Kings, the Rangers travel to Boston for a kinda-sorta matinee, with a 5pm start. I always found the 5pm starts to be a weird time. I get the 1pm start. I get the 12pm start, even if I hate it. I even get the 3pm start, assuming there’s a 12pm start before it on national TV. But the 5pm on MSG+2? I dunno.

As for the Bruins, they started off poorly, but have gone on a run to make themselves relevant in the pretty terrible Atlantic Division. Seriously, outside of Tampa and Toronto, there are a whole bunch of mediocre or outright bad teams. Boston being in third in the division isn’t exactly a sign of success. That said, they have enough talent up front to surprise teams, especially with Tuukka Rask in net.

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Dec
15

Game 32: Please play better

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mats zuccarello kings

Credit: AP / Mark J. Terrill

The Rangers have played a few clunkers in a short span, and have seen the good juju from their winning streak seemingly disappear. The win streak has been primarily due to a correction in PDO, with better goaltending and shooting accounting for most of the wins. The on-ice process is still pretty poor, especially in the defensive zone.

But that’s what the Rangers are. Score a lot and hope Hank makes the save. We may win, and we may die in the process. Tonight may be one of those games where we just watch in horror, as LA is apparently very good right now. They score a bunch –which I have no idea how, given that forward group– and are stifling on defense. This is the type of team that gives the Rangers nightmares. Of course now that I said that, the Blueshirts will win 9-0.

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Credit: AP / Fred Chartrand

The Rangers played one of the worst defensive games in the post-lockout era against Dallas on Monday. That is no hyperbole either. Based on shot differentials, both attempts and on-goal, it was in the top-ten of worst defensive performances. So even a bad Rangers effort is an improvement tonight.

Luckily for the Rangers, they face the hapless Senators tonight in what is surely another trap game. The Sens are already in sell mode, fielding offers for basically everyone except for Mark Stone and –rumored– Derick Brassard.

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rangers dallas stars

After Saturday night’s strong win against the Devils, the Rangers stay home to take on the mediocre Dallas Stars. I use the term mediocre loosely, as that top line and top powerplay unit can run up the score big time. But the Stars struggle on the blue line and in net, so the Rangers –even without Zibanejad– should be able to control the scoring chances.

The Rangers are in a unique situation in the division, where two points would move them up a bunch of spots with games in hand, but it wouldn’t kill them if they didn’t get both. That said, this is one of those games you use to make up ground. They went 2-1 in the divisional games over the weekend, so missing out on two tonight would be a bummer.

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jesper fast

Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports, via Reuters

The Rangers lost last night to the Caps, but beat Pittsburgh earlier in the week. Tonight they face off against the surprising Devils, in an attempt to end this three game run in the division with a winning record. It won’t be easy, since the Devils, picked by everyone to finish last, were just bumped from first last night. Who woulda thunk?

The Blueshirts got thoroughly thrashed against Washington, and now face a tough challenge of a back-to-back against a team with strong goaltending, a good top line, and now got stronger with the addition of Sami Vatanen. The Devils have depth issues, and that is where the Blueshirts are going to need to do their damage.

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