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Around the Farm: Bodie notches game winner with 18 seconds left

Mat Bodie notched the game winner for the Hartford Wolf Pack with 18 seconds remaining in the third, propelling the Pack to a 5-4 win over Worcester. Conor Allen, Ryan Bourque, Oscar Lindberg, and Danny Kristo –so basically 95% of the big prospect names– also scored for the Pack, who remain undefeated in regulation.

Below are the lines from the rest of the kids in action. Note that WHL games are late, and don’t finish when these post. The line for Keegan Iverson is through a point in the game.

Game 7: Start a winning streak

Photo: LoHud

Photo: LoHud

After a three game losing streak, the Rangers have won two in a row, with one coming against a powerhouse team in the San Jose Sharks. Tonight, the suddenly-able-to-score New Jersey Devils are hosting our New York Rangers. The Devs have scored 17 goals in their first five games this year, but have allowed 16 goals. Cory Schneider is a rock in net, but the defense in front of him is suspect at best. Exploiting the defense will be the key to success tonight.

Pete DeBoer has the Devils playing a 1-2-2 forecheck which they’ll use aggressively in the offensive zone or passively in the neutral zone as a trap depending on game situation. In the defensive zone, Deboer employs a hybrid overload/zone defensive system depending on whether the puck is along the boards or at mid-ice. On special teams, the Devils employ an umbrella/1-3-1 power playOn the penalty kill, the Devs rotate between a box and a diamond depending on puck location and the setup of the opposition.

Rangers lineup:

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Neutral zone counters – the backbone of NYR’s success

The modern day neutral zone

The modern day neutral zone

Everyone always wants to talk about whether or not teams should be dumping the puck vs. carrying or if teams are out- shooting (possessing) the opposition. In reality, these things are just outputs. They are the end result of how well a team is executing the process. For many teams, part of that process is their neutral zone systems.

The general consensus among 1-2-2 coaches like Alain Vigneault, is that the game is often won and lost in the neutral zone. Therefore, an extra effort is placed on designing tactics to win this part of the ice.

So what are those tactics?

Aside from forechecking strategies, which we have talked about a lot in the past, the two other fundamental systems employed in this area of the ice are neutral zone counters and regroups.

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Rick Nash’s hot start and tempering expectations

San Jose Sharks v New York Rangers

Rick Nash is off to a hot goal-scoring streak to start the 2014-15 season, scoring 7 goals in 6 games, tops in the NHL. Nash, who was the subject of much criticism over the off-season for “not showing up” in the playoffs despite strong possession numbers, is in for a bit of a wake up call, which may be coming sooner than later. Ranger fans should be expecting a goal-scoring slump from the winger, but it’s ok.

Nash has had strong possession numbers over the course of his first two seasons with the Rangers. His CF% is 54.8 over that span. This season, in even strength situations, Nash’s CF% and FF% are last on the team (44.9 and 43.1 respectively). His saving grace thus far has been an insanely high and unsustainable SH% of 44.4%, which is going to drop dramatically over the course of the season. For a player who led the NHL in shots last postseason while only scoring 3 goals, he was bound to find a string of good fortune and he seems to have found it early on this year.

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Logjam at wing may spell end of Duclair (temporarily)

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Anthony Duclair was a healthy scratch as the Rangers beat the Sharks 4-0 yesterday. When the initial news broke, there was some serious outrage over scratching Duke, some of it was rational and warranted, most was irrational. The Duke has three assists on the season, but has yet to put one in the net. That is partially due to lack of shots on goal –he has just six SOG– but it also has to do with his ability to put himself in a position to get shots on net.

Duclair has two games where he’s registered a shot on goal: The back-to-back 6-3 shellings by the New York Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs. His two assists: Against Columbus in that 5-2 disaster. He’s not being given the room he had in the preseason, which is expected since he’s now playing against the cream of the crop. Spending some time up top watching a game or two can help a 19-year-old kid identify the subtle differences (speed) of the game. He hasn’t played his way out of the lineup, not by a long shot.

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Injury update: Klein on the ice, Girardi not

After last night’s game, both Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein were both in need of stitches. Girardi took a shot off the ankle that needed to be stitched up, and Klein took a puck to the chin. Klein returned to the ice today for practice, while Girardi did not. Girardi is day-to-day, and there’s a chance he could miss tomorrow’s game against the New Jersey Devils. However, Girardi is made from robot parts, so I expect him to play.

Rangers blank Sharks in strong showing

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The San Jose Sharks, one of the leagues better teams, came to The Garden yesterday on the heels of back-to-back and three-in-four nights. Regardless of the fatigue factor (all teams have stretches like that), the Rangers put on a dominating performance, blanking the Sharks 4-0 and taking advantage of some critical defensive mistakes. Alex Stalock, who had been solid in net for San Jose, had rebound control all game and got burned on a pair of them.

Kevin Hayes notched his first NHL goal, Carl Hagelin and Martin St. Louis notched their first goals of the year, and Rick Nash continued on his hot start to provide the offense for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist made 33 saves as he appears to have regained his form after a slow start. After three losses in a row, the Rangers have won two straight to put them back to .500.

On to the goals:

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Around the Farm: Weekend recap, Fogarty with five point weekend

Almost every prospect was in action over the weekend. The Hartford Wolf Pack went 1-0-1 to stay unbeaten in regulation to start the season. The Pack beat Portland 2-1 and lost in overtime to Hersey 1-0. The Pack have allowed five goals over three games to start the season, but have scored just six. The defense appears to be improved from last year, and the offense should come around. See below for the full stat lines from the weekend.

In the NCAA ranks, Steven Fogarty racked up five points in two games, including a four point performance as he captained Notre Dame to a combined 10-4 pair of victories.

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Game 6: One of the West’s best

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

After a much-needed win against the woeful Carolina Hurricanes, the San Jose Sharks –one of the Western Conference’s best– is coming to town for an afternoon showdown with the New York Rangers. The Sharks are 4-0-1 to start the season, riding hot goaltending and absurd scoring (20 goals so far). The Sharks, particularly Tomas Hertl, gained fame last year among Rangers fans by deking Martin Biron into retirement. That won’t happen today (he can’t retire again), but the Rangers need to avoid that same kind of embarrassment, preferably with a big W.

On the ice, coach Todd McLellan has his Sharks mostly running an aggressive 2-1-2 forecheck, but will mix in some 1-2-2 depending on game situation. In the defensive zone schemes they overload the boards and play zone defense when the puck is at the points or down low. The power play is a 1-3-1 and their penalty kill formations are hybrid (depends on puck location/opposition setup).

Rangers lineup:

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Around the League Update

Coming to a Garden near you...

Coming to a Garden near you…

We’re almost two weeks into the regular season, giving teams a light litmus test of where they stand against the league. It’s important to remember that it is still very, very early in the season, but 5 or 6 games gives coaches enough of an idea of which lines are working and which aren’t.

Here in Rangerland, we’ve spent a lot of time analyzing defensive woes and arguing over whether or not we should be worried. It’s easy to forget that there’s a whole league out there, even though there’s a team only 15 miles away from us. In the spirit of keeping our friends close and our enemies closer, we should take a look at what’s going on around the league.

So… what exactly is happening outside of the Garden? Read more »