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Category: Preseason

Miller, Staal, Allen with solid play in third preseason loss

Hasn't missed a beat (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Hasn’t missed a beat (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Rangers lost their third preseason game –and second straight– tonight in Edmonton, but it was not all negative. J.T. Miller and Connor Allen played extremely well tonight. Allen is leapfrogging kids on the depth chart very, very quickly. We all know about Miller’s potential, and the kid played will with Arron Asham and Chris Kreider. Marc Staal also showed what he brings to the Rangers when he is fully healthy. Boy did he look good. Very assertive with the puck.

  • Starting with the powerplay, the Rangers are moving the puck well, but they are still holding the puck a little too long. It was nice to see people in front of the net with the man advantage as well. It’s still a work in progress, and this wasn’t their top powerplay unit out there. It was nice to see Ryan McDonagh get some time out there too.
  • For those wondering, it was a 2-1-2 (spread) on the 5 on 3, and an umbrella on the 5 on 4s.
  • Connor Allen has some wheels on him. Kid got back really quickly on the Ben Eager shorty. He forced the shot, and it was just some bad puck luck. That’s a goal that happens in NHL 14. Kevin is big on Marek Hrivik (as am I), but Allen has been very, very impressive.
  • As mentioned above, JT Miller and Marc Staal sure looked good. Staal isn’t missing a beat after that gruesome eye injury. Ditto Miller and his hammy.

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Preseason Game 4: Shaking off rust in Edmonton

(Photo: LoHud)

(Photo: LoHud)

The Rangers are in Edmonton tonight to take on the Oilers in their second of back-to-back games, and second of a four-in-five stretch to close out the preseason. The lines for tonight’s game have generated some discussion, particularly when you look at the forward lines. This is a team that needs to shake off the rust, but needs to give their highly touted prospects a lot of ice time to see what they are made of.

I haven’t watched much Edmonton hockey over the past year, but their style of play two years ago was centered around a 1-2-2 forecheck and defensive zone pressure. With more skill and speed on their team, it wouldn’t shock me to see a more aggressive style of play from the Oilers.

Rangers lineup:

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Lines for tonight’s game against Edmonton

Per Steve Zipay, the lines for tonight’s game against Edmonton will be:

Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Marek Hrivik-Oscar Lindberg-Danny Kristo
Micheal Haley-Dominic Moore-Derek Dorsett
Chris Kreider-JT Miller-Arron Asham

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Conor Allen
Aaron Johnson-Tommy Hughes

Martin Biron (full game)
Cam Talbot

There are a few things worth noting here, first being Connor Allen on a pairing with Marc Staal. The kid has impressed, and will be getting a bigger chance to impress while playing with Staal. It’s also worth noting that Chris Kreider is getting a second straight game after being removed from the top line last night. He needs to rebound, and fast.

AV’s new styles showing in Rangers 4-1 loss to Calgary

(Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News)

(Andrew Theodorakis/New York Daily News)

Although the Rangers lost tonight’s game in Calgary, we learned a lot of important things about Alain Vigneault and his coaching style. The first, and it’s something we’ve heard a lot about, is that he preaches offense, and getting offense from his defensemen. We saw that on the first goal, when Marc Staal was down by the circles for the goal. We also saw that AV will be a bit more passive on the forecheck, allowing the game to come to his forwards. The surprising part was that AV still ran his 1-2-2 forecheck (Torts ran a 2-1-2) despite being down two goals. Anyway, on to the thoughts from the game:

  • I started watching the game right at the powerplay goal, so that just happened to be perfect timing. It appeared that the goal came from a broken play, but it’s worth noting that Staal snuck in from the far point, something that the Rangers didn’t do much of last year. Staal read the play, saw the scramble in front, and crept in looking for a loose puck. He found it.
  • Brad Richards is making the absence of Derek Stepan have a lesser impact. The Rangers still need him (depth), but Richards is playing like the top line center they paid for two offseasons ago. Everyone here expected him to have a bounce back year, so let’s hope this is the beginning of some good things to come. We also saw how AV will deploy that line a lot in the offensive zone.
  • Marek Hrivik isn’t the sexy name like Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg, or Jesper Fast, but his game is so simple. He doesn’t seem lost out there. Kevin thinks he is the perfect guy to make the team while Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin are injured, and I’m inclined to agree.

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Preseason Game 3: Roster beginning to take shape in Calgary

(Jeff McIntosh/AP)

(Jeff McIntosh/AP)

The opening night roster is beginning to take shape for the Rangers, as some line combinations have already started forming. Today, one of those forward lines (Chris Kreider-Brad Richards-Rick Nash) and two defense pairings (Marc Staal-Michael Del Zotto, John Moore-Anton Stralman) take the ice with prospects and veterans looking to play a role for the big club against the Calgary Flames.

Despite what the Flames may have done off the ice, it doesn’t affect their style of play on the ice. The last time the Rangers played Calgary, the Flames used a 1-2-2 hybrid trap that sends one man deep on the forecheck, with two guys at the blue line waiting for turnovers. However the Rangers haven’t played Calgary in two years, and since we don’t watch them that much, we are unsure what exact style they use today. My guess is that they stick with the 1-2-2 forecheck, and use a hybrid overload/collapse in the defensive zone.

Rangers Lineup:

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Lines for tonight appear to be set

Per Steve Zipay, the lines for tonight’s preseason game in Calgary appear to be set:

Chris Kreider-Brad Richards-Rick Nash
Marek Hrivik-Brian Boyle-Jesper Fast
Taylor Pyatt-Oscar Lindberg-Danny Kristo
Brandon Mashinter-Darroll Powe-Arron Asham

Marc Staal-Michael Del Zotto
John Moore-Anton Stralman
Justin Falk-Stu Bickel

Henrik Lundqvist
Cam Talbot

The top two defense pairings and the top line have been standard all preseason. It’s interesting to see Fast split from Lindberg and Kristo, since that trio had a ton of success and chemistry in the Traverse City Tournament. Also, it appears the fourth line and bottom pairing are set specifically for competition purposes. All five appear to be in the picture from a depth perspective.

Rangers release roster for tomorrow

Per Andrew Gross, the Rangers have released their roster for tomorrow night’s preseason game against Calgary:

Forwards: Brandon Mashinter, Marek Hrivik, Taylor Pyatt, Chris Kreider, Darroll Powe, Brian Boyle, Brad Richards, Oscar Lindberg, Arron Asham, Rick Nash, Jesper Fast and Danny Kristo.

Defensemen: Michael Del Zotto, Marc Staal, Justin Falk, Anton Stralman, Stu Bickel and John Moore.

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist and Cam Talbot

From the lineup, you can see that AV is sticking with specific line combinations as he gets a read on the team this year. Expect Kreider-Richards-Nash to stick for the game, along with Staal-Del Zotto and Stralman-Moore.

Johan Hedberg released from PTO; Four others sent to Hartford

Per Andrew Gross, the Rangers have released goaltender Johan Hedberg from his professional tryout. Hebderg was brought in while Martin Biron was out for personal reasons, but never got a chance to play in a preseason game. Both Biron and rookie Cam Talbot were great in their preseason game(s), earning more time. Unfortunately for Hedberg, he was the odd-man out.

Gross also notes that Michael St. Croix, Shawn O’Donnell, Brendon Nash, and Josh Nicholls were sent to Hartford. St. Croix will be expected to round out his defensive game while providing an offensive spark for the Pack, while the other three will likely play bottom-six roles.

Update: Ryan Bourque was sent to Hartford as well.

Possible 2nd/3rd line identified in Rangers preseason win over Flyers

Brassard played very well tonight. (Photo: Andrew Theodorakis / New York Daily News)

Brassard played very well tonight. (Photo: Andrew Theodorakis / New York Daily News)

The Rangers got their first win of the preseason tonight, besting the Flyers 3-2 in Philadelphia. Since there will be cuts announced relatively soon, this was likely the last time we will see a number of these guys this year (on Broadway at least). New York looked a lot better than they did in their loss to the Devils last night. Some of the depth guys signed in the offseason played well, and some of the kids played well too. Again, we feel there is more value in a bulleted approach to the recaps for the preseason, as it allows us to touch on the rookies who played. Goal breakdowns will be done for the regular season.

  • Benoit Pouliot has been playing well. I liked him on the line with Brassard and Zuccarello. Brass gave Pouliot a nice look for the third goal. This will be a fun line to watch in the regular season.
  • Dominic Moore has been a very pleasant surprise for the Rangers so far this preseason. He looks like he hasn’t missed a beat. I want to think he’s getting all of this preseason game time to get back up to speed, but he’s there already.
  • The AV/Arniel powerplay has been evident already: Puck movement, cycling, chances, shots, but most importantly: zone entries via the rush or the pass. Either a defenseman gains the zone on the rush, and dishes to the man sitting at the corner of the blue line, or the pass is made to the man at the blue line, who gains the zone. It’s great to see.

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Preseason Game 2: Talbot earns more time

Photo Credit: HBO

Photo Credit: HBO

The Rangers are in Philly tonight to take on the Flyers in the second game of the 2013 preseason. The roster for today’s game is again comprised mostly of kids that the coaching staff wants to see play in game situations. It is worth noting that Jesper Fast and Oscar Lindberg will not only be on the same line, but will play top six minutes, per Steve Zipay.

Last year, the Flyers ran a bit of a hybrid forechecking system. The first look is the 2-1-2 forecheck, and once the Flyers get a lead, they tend to switch to a more conservative 2-3 left wing lock. Both systems send two forecheckers into the zone, but the 2-3 leaves one forward high in the zone, while the 2-1-2 sends an additional forechecker  in deep. The 2-12 also allows defensemen to join the forecheck.

In their own zone, the Flyers play a low zone collapse. This creates a logjam in the high-priced real estate, but gives some leeway at the point for puck movement. On special teams, the Flyers play an umbrella powerplay (like most NHL teams) and a diamond penalty kill.

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