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Practice notes: Boyle in regular jersey, Kaberle at practice

Per Andrew Gross, Dan Boyle, out since the season opener with a fractured right hand, was in a regular practice jersey this morning. He was skating with Tomas Kaberle, who is joining Ranger practices without a contract. Boyle may not play tomorrow, but it looks like he will be set to return next week. Considering the state of the blue line, his return can’t come soon enough.

The lines and defensive pairs were switched up a bit as well:

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Martin St. Louis
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin-Dominic Moore-Lee Stempniak
Tanner Glass-Kevin Hayes-Anthony Duclair

Marc Staal-Kevin Klein
Conor Allen-Dan Girardi
Matt Hunwick-Mike Kostka

Boyle’s return would spell the end of Kostka in the lineup. It’s good to see Stepan back in the lineup too, but I don’t know if putting Glass with two rookies is the wisest move for the fourth line.

Conor Allen showing John Moore’s spot is not guaranteed

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

When the Rangers blue line finally gets healthy, the assumption has always been that John Moore will be the LD on the third pairing. It’s tough to argue with that, as the one prospect who appears NHL ready is currently playing at the University of Minnesota (Brady Skjei). Conor Allen, in preseason, was seemingly beat out by Dylan McIlrath as the 7D (both were sent to the AHL for Matt Hunwick, since the kids need playing time). Moore’s spot appeared to be safe.

Allen, recalled due to the Moore suspension and the injury to Ryan McDonagh, looked steady in his two games this year. He’s not flashy by any stretch, but he reminds me of a right-handed Anton Stralman. If you recall, Stralman didn’t show up on the scoreboard, but he always made the smart, short, easy pass to move the puck out of the zone. It’s something that is greatly under appreciated because it is such a subtle play. Allen showed a lot of those qualities when I watched him.

Naturally I’m a bit of a nerd, so I took to the numbers to see if what I saw matches what was produced on the ice.

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BSB Fanduel League: 11/6

We are continuing with our Fanduel leagues on days where there are more than 3-4 games being played. We’ve also upped the league size to 10 players, with the top-3 finishing in the money for your $2 buy-in (we aren’t exactly rich here). We will continue to expand league size as interest grows, but we seem to have a stream of 5-7 steady players and a few others that have expressed interest.

For those unfamiliar with Fanduel, you are given $55,000 to construct a team of 2 LW, 2 RW, 2 C, 2 D, and 1 G. The goal is to find some good bargains (my advice is to save money on defense and spend big on offense) and save money for some stars you know will put up points. For some reason Marc-Andre Fleury is one of the most expensive goalies in the league, so higher prices don’t necessarily mean better players.

Rotowire has a lineup optimizer, as does DangleFactory. They are good resources if this intrigues you, but you’re new to daily fantasy sports.

You can sign up for Fanduel by clicking here. The league link is here.

Chris Mueller assigned to AHL

The New York Rangers have assigned center Chris Mueller to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. Mueller has filled in somewhat nicely as an injury replacement as the 4C on the club, notching a goal and an assist in seven games this year.

Mueller’s demotion means that Derek Stepan is likely good to go for Saturday’s game, which is fantastic news.

Musings: It’s okay to be okay with this start

Almost identical to Pouliot, but no OZ penalties.

With last night’s win the New York Rangers are 6-4-2 after 12 games to start the season. The team has been shaky at best, but they have points in their last four games (2-0-2) and are 5-1-2 since back-to-back 6-3 blowout losses to the Toronto Maple Leafs and New York Islanders (and the 5-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets the game before). Their goal differential is -4, which isn’t ideal, but that’s more a reflection of three straight losses by three goals.

The Rangers have managed to be 6-4-2 despite a myriad of injuries that has crippled the blue line. They haven’t dressed their original starting six since the opener in St. Louis. They played one game with just four defensemen, and played the next game with two of their original six starters in the lineup. Right now, they are in the middle of a stretch where they will only dress three of their starters.

Suffice it to say: This wasn’t a part of the offseason plan. But the Rangers have managed to do more than just tread water. They have points in seven of their last eight games.

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Rangers edge past Wings in an Original Six nailbiter

The Rangers hosted the Red Wings on a slow night in hockey in what was a pretty riveting Original Six matchup. I’m still wrapping my head around what the term “rivalry” means to NBCSN, but so far I mostly think it means “the game that’ll generate the most viewership.” I also think it means an 8pm start, which means this post won’t be a goal breakdown – sorry Dave.

All jokes aside, this game was pretty phenomenal. There was a lot of energy, lots of momentum changes, some really beautiful goal scoring, and, of course, a minor heart attack when Detroit tied it with 7.7 to go. Horrible officiating was a major theme of this game, but we all know that you can’t blame the refs for a loss; you just have to work harder to win.

My thoughts, in bulletpoint form..

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Game 12: Treading water against Detroit

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images

The Rangers managed to grab two points in two games with just two of their opening night defensemen on the roster. It may not seem like much, but I’ll take it. With Kevin Klein coming back tonight, the Rangers are now dressing three of those opening night defensemen, so that’s progress. Plus Mats Zuccarello is back, so that’s always nice to see. At 5-4-2 with players returning from injury, the Rangers handled this horrible stretch rather well, and they will look to keep getting points against the always dangerous Red Wings.

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. 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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St Louis’ return to form critical to Rangers

The Rangers need help in almost every department right now, given the patchwork team that’s being cobbled together because of all the injuries (and suspension) the team has endured. Although the Rangers lost to St Louis Blues – a game they should have won – that game suggested Marty St Louis’ return to his usual right wing position was the tonic his game needed.

St Louis is absolutely critical to the Rangers. He is an elite playmaker, goal scorer and when he is on form, gives the Rangers the potential to stretch opposition defenses when you consider the presence of Chris Kreider but above all Rick Nash. Teams cannot game plan for just one wing elite winger, but three. Teams cannot focus on one player as we saw when he snuck away for his first goal against the Blues.

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Rangers assign Dylan McIlrath to Hartford; Kevin Klein expected to play

The New York Rangers have assigned defenseman Dylan McIlrath to the Hartford Wolf Pack of the AHL. McIlrath was called up following injuries to Kevin Klein and Ryan McDonagh over the weekend. McIlrath filled a hole while Klein was out, but Klein is back and expected to play tonight, so McIlrath is headed back to Hartford. McIlrath had 9 PIMs on Monday.

Since Klein is coming back, the logical move was to send McIlrath to Hartford. I don’t think this was indicative of his play.

Reinforcements are on the way

John Moore might not play every night once everyone is healthy

The Rangers are so shorthanded right now that they’re bringing in Tomas Kaberle to skate with the team today, but that won’t last much longer.

Derek Stepan’s return is imminent, Dan Boyle’s recovery is also in it’s final stages, and John Moore’s suspension will be over after Sunday’s game. Kevin Klein could follow soon after, though no official prognosis has been made on his foot injury.

So how will things change in the coming days and weeks?

For one thing, the return of Stepan and Boyle should, should, get the power play on track. Statistically it can’t be much worse than the three-for-32 slump to start the season (Pittsburgh has 19 power play goals already…), but even a mediocre stretch by the man advantage would mean an extra goal every few games, a not insignificant padding for the patchwork defense.  Read more »