Category: Game Thread

Game 53: Rebounding against one of the West’s best vs. St. Louis

Marty Biron sighting (Photo: blues.nhl.com)

Marty Biron sighting (Photo: blues.nhl.com)

The Rangers were pretty sloppy on Tuesday, blowing a pair of two-goal leads –that they probably didn’t deserve to have– en route to a 5-3 loss to the Isles. St. Louis is fresh off a 7-1 embarrassment in New Jersey. Suffice it to say, both teams are looking to right their respective ships. The Rangers need the points more than the Blues do, as the Metropolitan and Eastern Conference races are very tight.

Ken Hitchcock has the Blues running an aggressive 2-1-2 overload forecheck, but tend to switch to a 1-2-2 with a lead late in the period, though the way the Rangers are playing there’s probably no point on sitting back. They are fairly aggressive when it comes to defensive zone schemes, playing an overload style and collapsing down when the puck is down low. Their power play strategy is a 1-3-1, and their penalty kill formation is a hybrid.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 52: Polar vortexing the Isles

ANDREW THEODORAKIS/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News

The Rangers are one of the hottest teams in the league right now. They are 11-3-1 in their last 15, including 6-1-1 in their last eight. The Isles are also playing strong hockey, posting a 7-2-1 mark in their last ten, making them relevant in the Metropolitan Division once again. Tonight will be the first of three meetings between the clubs this month, with two more coming on 1/29 (Stadium Series) and 1/31. Taking all three would go a long way for the Rangers in putting distance between them and the rest of the division.

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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Game 51: Beating the slumping Caps

Photo: Getty Images

Photo: Getty Images

The Rangers are one of the hottest teams in the league right now with a 6-2-1 record in January, and a 10-3-1 streak dating back to Christmas. Suffice it to say, the team is starting to find its stride and seems to have finally adapted to the new systems implemented by coach Alain Vigneault. The last player that needed to get going –Derek Stepan– had a huge game yesterday. Once he gets going, and assuming the rest of the club continues to play this way, then this is a New York team that could be unstoppable.

Adam Oates and his Caps are struggling, with a 2-4-4 record over their last 10 games. On the ice, Oates runs an overload 1-2-2 forecheck, same as the Rangers. They generally send one man in, but if the chances at a turnover are high, they will send the second and third man in. They are fairly aggressive when it comes to defensive zone schemes, playing an overload style along the walls and collapsing below the hashmarks when the puck is down low. Their power play strategy is a 1-3-1, and their penalty kill formation changes based on opponent’s setup.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 50: Just keep rolling in Ottawa

Photo: Star Ledger

Photo: Star Ledger

Two days ago, we saw one of the best 1-0 games we will ever see. With the win over the Wings, the Rangers improved to 9-3-1 in their recent stretch, and now have another four point swing game in Ottawa. The Sens, who started slow, are a team fighting for a playoff spot. They are just two points back of the Rangers, and will continue to be on shaky ground as they split starts between Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner. Sooner or later the Sens will start Lehner and relegate Anderson to the backup role. When that happens, watch out.

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 also 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 49 vs. DET: Keep playing well, get those points

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Even though the Rangers lost on Tuesday against Tampa Bay, they played a pretty strong game. They are still 8-3-1 in their last 12, and are still in prime playoff contention. Wins and points are clearly the most important thing here, but their strong effort against Tampa in the loss was a positive sign that they haven’t lost their game. Detroit is a potential wild card opponent, so this is another four point swing game.

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 48 vs TBL: We’re going streaking!

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The Rangers are in the midst of an 8-2-1 streak, and have won three in a row. Tampa Bay comes to town tonight looking to spoil that with the return of Ben Bishop. Tampa Bay has a pretty solid club and are likely playoff bound, so the Rangers will have their hands full. If they can build off their impressive wins against Chicago and Dallas, this could be a very long streak.

Jon Cooper has the Lightning playing a pretty similar system as the Rangers. They run an aggressive 1-2-2 forecheck with a lot of pinching from their defensemen. Once they get a two goal lead, they tend to sit back in the neutral zone with a more passive 1-2-2. In the defensive zone, they mix man-on-man and zone coverage. On special teams, they still run a 1-3-1 power play and a diamond/box hybrid penalty kill.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 47: Divisional showdown against Philly

Photo: LoHud

Photo: LoHud

The Flyers come to town a completely different team from the last time the Rangers faced them. Then again, so are the Rangers. This is a Rangers team that is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, and 3-0-1 in their last 4 games. This is one of the most important games of the season, as the Rangers sit one point back of the surging Flyers for third place in the Metropolitan (and the last guaranteed playoff spot). Tonight has a potential four point swing on the line.

On the ice, 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 46: Keep the winning going against Dallas

Photo: AP

Photo: AP

The Rangers are 6-2-1 in their last nine games. Dallas has lost four in a row. The Rangers need a win to keep pace with the teams ahead of them in the Eastern Conference playoff race. The Stars need a win just to stay relevant in their chase for the playoffs in the Western Conference. Suffice it to say, both teams come into the matchup needing a win. The difference is that the Rangers are hot and the Stars are not. But Dallas is a very good and very talented team. This is no gimme for the Rangers.

Lindy Ruff is in Dallas now, and he has the Stars playing a 1-2-2 forecheck and a 2-1-2 forecheck depending on the score. In the defensive zone, Dallas tends to overload. The Stars also run your 1-3-1 powerplay and diamond/box hybrid penalty kill. These are familiar styles of play that the Rangers should be used to at this point.

Rangers Lineup:

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Game 45: Facing the best in Chicago

Cally Face (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

Cally Face (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images North America)

The Rangers are in Chicago for the first time in close to two years to take on the NHL’s best (in my opinion they are better than the Ducks, who are two points ahead). The Hawks are stupid good, and the Rangers are going to need to be at their best to win this game. Luckily they’ve played very well the past couple of weeks, and some of their stars are finally starting to come around. Puck luck is going to be necessary tonight as well.

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 DZ, 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 44 vs. CBJ: Build on a strong performance

Image from LoHud

Image from LoHud

The Rangers destroyed Toronto the other day, and now they desperately need to build on that momentum against Columbus. The Blue Jackets have fallen on hard times, and sit in second-to-last in the division.This will be their third and final meeting of the season, and a game the Rangers really need to win to stay relevant.

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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