Category: Game Thread

Game 64: Jockeying for playoff position against Detroit

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Rangers appeared to right the ship on Friday night with a big third period en route to a 4-2 win over the Hurricanes. Today it’s a much tougher opponent in Detroit, who is currently in a playoff battle of their own. The Rangers are in direct competition with the Wings, as they will need to finish ahead of them in points in order to claim a wild card spot (if they fail to finish in the top three in the Metro). This is another four-point swing game against a potential playoff suitor.

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. Keep an eye on him. 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 63: Right the ship against Carolina

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Well, the Rangers came out of the Olympic break in a bit of a lull, dropping three in a row and collecting just three points out of eight in their past four games. Tonight they are in Carolina facing a team that is not going to be making the playoffs. This is the perfect game for the Rangers to right the ship and start collecting some much needed points.

On the ice, 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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Game 62: Post-Cally era begins against Toronto

Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images

The Rangers were shocked this afternoon when news of the Ryan Callahan trade spread. The Ranges landed the better player in the deal in Martin St. Louis, but the shock of a captain-for-captain trade from two teams that are likely headed to the playoffs certainly hit the Rangers hard. Toronto is in town tonight, and they are three points ahead of the Rangers in the wildcard chase (Rangers are in third in the Atlantic though) with a game in hand. A win in regulation moves the Rangers closer to that playoff goal.

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 occasion depending on game situation. In the defensive zone, the Leafs generally play a collapsing box +1, 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 61: Rebound against Boston

He can't steal two in a row, right?

Time to get back on track.

The Boston Bruins come to town tonight as the most balanced team in the Eastern Conference, and the favorites (yes, over the Pens) to play for the Stanley Cup in June. The Rangers are one of the hottest teams in the league, but are coming off a pretty sloppy loss against Philly yesterday afternoon. The way the Blueshirts have been playing lately, we can expect them to come out strong against the Bruins, a team they generally play well against.

The Bruins have had the same style of play for years under Claude Julien. They play an aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck early in the period and then switch to a more conservative 1-4 or 1-1-3 lock later in the period if they have a lead. In the defensive zone, the Bs play a low zone collapse and try to defend you in layers depending on puck location. On special teams, the Bruins use an umbrella power play and a wedge+1/diamond force penalty kill where they try to pressure for turnovers.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 61: Big divisional match up against Philly

Photo: LoHud

Photo: LoHud

The Rangers are in Philly this afternoon to take on the Flyers in one of their bigger divisional match ups of the season. The Rangers have an opportunity to take a four-point-swing-game, extending their lead on the third place Flyers to five points. Currently, the Rangers have a three point lead and the tiebreaker (ROW). A win today gives the Rangers a very comfortable lead for second place.

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 60: Home stretch begins against Chicago

Photo: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Photo: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The Rangers open their post-Olympics schedule against one of the favorites in the Western Conference. The rest of the week doesn’t get much better, as New York has Philly, Boston, and Toronto following the Hawks, all playoff teams. The Rangers will face this schedule without their leading scorer in Mats Zuccarello, and with trade rumors surrounding their captain and top-pairing defenseman. The Hawks are the toughest test, and they are the first to get the shorthanded Rangers.

Joel Quenneville is one of the best coaches in the game. His Hawks play an aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck, keeping the back forward and defensemen ready to jump on turnovers. In the defensive zone, the Hawks play a standard zone defense looking to defend you in layers based on puck location. On special teams, they run a 1-3-1 power play, and a wedge+1 penalty kill.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 59 at Pittsburgh: Head into the break strong

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Yea, the Rangers fell victim to the trap game last night against Edmonton. It happens. The more important thing here is that they played their stinker against a non-conference team. If there’s a silver lining, that’s it. The Rangers wrap up the pre-Olympics schedule in Pittsburgh tonight, taking on the division leading Penguins. The Pens have gotten unusually strong –and consistent– goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleury. They’ve also had a full year of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, which is helping them succeed despite dressing the blue line from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Dan Bylsma has the Penguins running an aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck in the offensive zone and encourages puck pursuit in most situations.  In the defensive zone, Pittsburgh uses a zone defense, taking out lanes and protecting the slot. The Pens are ranked 5th in the league in blocked shots and still average over 3 goals a game. Minds blown. On special teams, they run a 1-3-1 power play and  a diamond force penalty kill.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 58: Avoid the trap game against the Oilers, make it five in a row

Nostalgia time! (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Nostalgia time! (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Rangers enter tonight’s game on a four game win streak. Edmonton is a bottom feeder again. Pittsburgh is tomorrow. Naturally, this is a trap game. The Rangers are at risk of looking ahead to their big divisional matchup. Problem is the Oilers are very skilled and can take advantage of that. Their goaltending got a lot better by adding Ben Scrivens, but they still can’t play defense to save their lives (142 shots against in 3 games coming into this!).

On the ice, 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 it is a straight 2-1-2 without sitting on leads. In the defensive zone, the Oiler play man-on-man, but also drop to a zone depending on puck location and situation. On special teams, the Avs run a 1-3-1/overload power play and a box penalty kill.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 57: Solving the Avalanche

Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images North America

Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images North America

The Colorado Avalanche come to town tonight as one of those exceptions to the #fancystats rules. They are riding unbelievable goaltending (1st in the league) and shooting (5th) with poor puck possession (21st) into an all-but-guaranteed playoff spot in April. Many have expected them to falter as the law of averages catches up, but it hasn’t happened yet. They have a ton of talent, that’s for sure, but they are a statistical anomaly this year.

On the ice, the fiery Patrick Roy has his boys running 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 straight man-on-man, so expect a lot of pressure and rushed/hurried decisions. On special teams, the Avs run a 1-3-1 power play and a hybrid penalty kill with very active defensemen.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 56: Thawed out fishsticks

Photo by Jim McIsaac/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Jim McIsaac/NHLI via Getty Images

The Rangers close out their season series against the Islanders tonight at The Garden, with New York hockey bragging rights on the line. The Rangers are in the playoff hunt, and the Isles are likely to miss out, but the season series is tied at two games a piece. The Rangers have a little breathing room in the standings, but still need to tack on the points against bottom feeders.

The Isles run an aggressive 1-2-2 forecheck and a 1-1-3 lock depending on the score, which they use to counter other teams mistakes. In the defensive zone, the Isles play man-on-man, so expect our defense to get pressured along the blueline. Look for blown coverages, as this Isles team is still a bit raw on defense. On special teams, the Isles run a 1-3-1 power play and a hybrid penalty kill.

Rangers Lineup:

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