Archive for Game Thread
It’s time for the annual day after Thanksgiving showdown with the Bruins. This is the third year in a row the Rangers and Bruins play on the day after Thanksgiving (I think), and it’s the first game to be nationally televised on NBC. Something I never understood, though, is why NBC airs this game, then nothing until the Winter Classic. I don’t get that. But I digress.
The Bruins had a really weird offseason. They matched that weird offseason with an equally weird start to the season. Tuukka Rask has been pretty bad, with just a .900 SV%. They also aren’t a solid possession team. Rask rebounding to a .920 SV% is expected. Their top guys should continue to rack up points, although they have a few (Loui Eriksson) on unsustainable paces. The Bruins have top end talent, but lack depth. That may be enough for a playoff push, but it wouldn’t shock me to see them fall out of the race later in the season.
Just a note: This post will also serve as the post-game thread. No one is available to do a goal breakdown. Sorry about that.
The Rangers were horrid on Monday night, and somehow came away with a win. Tonight they face a Montreal Canadiens team that thoroughly dominated them last month, and are one of the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference this year. Montreal has been superb. Carey Price is following up his Vezina/Hart campaign with another solid year. The Habs basically score at will, and their defense has been great thus far.
As for the Rangers, well they need to play better. For the first 21 games, they’ve been hemorrhaging shot attempts, and it’s taken herculean efforts from Henrik Lundqvist to ensure victory. That can’t continue, and Montreal is a team that will beat them into the ground if they continue to play that way. Play better with the puck, and the ice will finally tilt in the other team’s direction. No team, none, can continually win by sitting and waiting for counter attacks. Sooner or later, those opportunities won’t come. Puck possession, dirty shots, dirty goals. They are needed.
The Rangers are back home to open a tough stretch at the Garden that begins with Nashville. The Preds have one of the best blue lines in the league and Pekka Rinne in net. They have some solid talent up front that controls possession (53.8% CF). This is a playoff team in a tough division.
Meanwhile, the Rangers are not exactly playing their best hockey. They are winning, but the process doesn’t match the results on the ice. The goaltending is masking a large number of issues with the defense, and the forwards –although scoring– are playing dump and chase hockey a little too much, giving up the puck to the opposition on a regular basis. That needs to change. Teams like Nashville will exploit it.
The Rangers are in Sunrise tonight to take on the Florida Panthers. The Panthers have been riding great goaltending from Roberto Luongo and well balanced scoring from their top-six to a .500 record. They are struggling lately at 3-5-2 as shooting percentages from their top-six fall, but this is a young team on the rise with some solid veteran leadership.
New York had their win streak snapped the other day in Tampa Bay, and are going to look to rebound tonight. Last year’s team was very good at rebounding after losses, and with minimal roster turnover, we should hope that this year’s club shows the same resolve. The Rangers are going to need to battle the eventual PDO crash coming their way, so getting back on track against a mediocre club.
The Rangers are in Tampa tonight to take on the defending Eastern Conference champion Lightning. The Bolts bested the Rangers in seven games last season, sending the Rangers home in crushing fashion. But the Bolts the Rangers are facing today are just a shell of the lineup they dressed in May. They are missing Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Cedric Paquette, and Jonathan Drouin. Ryan Callahan is also a game-time decision.
Tonight’s game is another test for the Rangers during their impressive streak. They are seeking their tenth win in a row and seeking at least a point in their 14th straight game (11-0-2). That’s one amazing run the Rangers are on. Racking up this many points early is something we aren’t used to seeing in New York.
This is one amazing run, isn’t it? The Rangers have won eight in a row and have points in a whopping twelve straight games (10-0-2). The schedule has been relatively weak, but they also have wins against very good Washington and St. Louis teams. The Blueshirts are getting it done with elite –and unsustainable– goaltending and opportunistic shooting.
Tonight it’s the Maple Leafs, who are pretty bad. This will be a lottery team. They can’t score (2.2 GF/P) and can’t defend (2.94 GA/G). James Reimer has been good in net (.925 SV%), but the Rangers are drawing Jonathan Bernier tonight, who has been having a rough start to the year. The Leafs are also a sub-50% possession team. None of these things should surprise anyone, as the Leafs are rebuilding under new coach Mike Babcock.
After a strong win against St. Louis the other night, the Rangers are in Ottawa to take on the Senators in a Saturday matinee. The Rangers have won seven in a row behind elite goaltending and opportunistic shooting, and are 9-0-2 in their last 11 games. Much of this is thanks to Henrik Lundqvist and an offense that makes the most of their chances. The defense still needs to improve, as they’ve been shaky through the first 16 games.
The Sens are second in the Atlantic at 8-5-3, and have actually struggled a bit at home (3-3-2). They are not a good possession team (45.6 CF%), sitting in the bottom-three in the NHL in both even strength CF% and score-adjusted even strength CF%. However this is a team that can put the puck in the net. They have six guys in double-digit points already. But after those six the Sens are very thin, with no one over five points.
The Rangers usually feast on teams that lack depth and have poor goaltending. The Sens certainly lack depth, and Anderson has been shaky to start the year. That said, the Rangers have been playing above their heads for a while now. This should be a fun game to watch, I’m expecting a lot of chances on both sides. So….it’ll be a boring 2-1 game.
The Ranges have just kept on rolling, extending their win streak to six games and 8-0-2 in their last ten. But St. Louis comes to town tonight, a true playoff team that is just as hot as the Rangers. The Blues are very similar to the Rangers, relying on elite goaltending and transition rushes.
The Blues are 7-2-1 in their last ten games, including impressive wins over Minnesota, Anaheim, Tampa Bay, Chicago, and Nashville. Four players have double-digit scoring totals, and Jake Allen has been lights-out in net. This is the first really hot goaltender the Rangers have faced in their recent 8-0-2 run.
The Rangers haven’t played perfect hockey, and some are quick to point out they played down to their competition over the last three games. This is a big test for the Blueshirts. A statement win would keep a lot of those complaints at bay.
The Rangers are experiencing quite a run of success. They are 10-2-2 to start the season and 7-0-2 in their last nine games. Tonight they face a Carolina Hurricanes team that is one of the better possession teams in the league. They are small and fast, but lack true finishing skill outside of the Staals.
The Canes have played .500 hockey for their first 14 games, and have a -10 goal differential thus far. They have just one player (Versteeg) with double-digit points. Their goaltending duo of Cam Ward-Eddie Lack has been atrocious, with neither above a .907 SV%. The Canes have a good process –they drive possession– but lack the talent to score or keep scorers at bay.
What have they done lately?
The Rangers own again last night in Colorado, and are now 6-0-2 in their last eight games. Now the Rangers make the short trip back to Phoenix to wrap up the season series against the Coyotes. The Yotes score a lot (3 goals per game) and get scored on a lot (also 3 goals per game). They have a lot of young skill, but minimal depth. Antoine Vermette is also injured, which takes away from their offensive punch and already short depth.
The Yotes should eventually fall back to lottery territory, but it’s about when you play a team. They are still relatively scary, since the goaltending has been good and the scoring has been coming in bunches. Mike Smith is down to a .904 SV% though, so putting shots on him will go a long way.
What have they done lately?