Per Steve Zipay, Derick Brassard will not play tonight with flu like symptoms. Kevin Klein will return to the lineup though, and was skating with Ryan McDonagh this morning. The new lines to account for Brassard’s absence:
In case you missed it, the Rangers are in a bit of a funk right now. Well to be fair, “a bit” is just slightly understating the funk. The Rangers have just 17 points since December 2nd, and only the Montreal Canadiens (nine points, and don’t tell me Carey Price isn’t their entire team) have fewer points in that span. It’s a good thing the Rangers banked all those points in October and November, or else this would have been an ugly season.
We’ve taken a few looks at this team from an analytical standpoint. After ten games we –along with 99% of the folks who look at these numbers regularly– predicted that the Rangers would have major regression. It wasn’t that hard to predict. Henrik Lundqvist wasn’t going to continue stopping 96% of his shots and the Rangers weren’t going to continue to shoot 12%. It was just logic. But through all that, we never once believed the Rangers were this year’s pretenders or pure smoke and mirrors.
Then the crash came, and boy was it ugly. But in mid-December there was cause for optimism. The defense was tightening up. The offense was starting to generate more sustained pressure. They were still getting ugly goaltending and poor shooting, but the overall process on the ice was getting better.
The Rangers are in need of another scoring forward, preferably a shoot-first guy, in order to really round out the lineup. The thought process is that a top-six forward is acquired, moving J.T. Miller down to the third line with Kevin Hayes and Oscar Lindberg. That pushes Jesper Fast to the fourth line with Dominic Moore and Viktor Stalberg/Tanner Glass, and the Rangers are balanced.
The recent playing time of Jayson Megna, a right-handed shot, really emphasized the need for a player of that type. Megna is not a top-six guy, and to be fair is a borderline NHLer at this point in his career. When Megna started getting legitimate playing time, the hole at forward was exposed further.
Two weeks ago, we looked at some potentially available top-six forwards that the Rangers might try to target at the trade deadline. Since then, only James van Riemsdyk has really come off the market, with the Leafs saying they have no interest in trading him. Let’s look at a few more potential targets.
Below you’ll find episode two of our weekly podcast, the Blue Seat Blogs-cast! This week we talked about the Rangers’ most recent games, including the recent loss to the Capitals, as well as some thoughts on the team’s needs in advance of the upcoming trade deadline. We hope you enjoy, and as always you can find us on Soundcloud and iTunes, as well as right here on Blue Seat Blogs.
The Rangers couldn’t stay out of the box last night, shooting themselves in the foot in what was otherwise a well played game at even strength. The Caps scored twice with the man advantage, and those goals wound up being the difference in the game. But this is why they are the Caps. They make you take penalties and then make you pay. It’s not just the powerplay goals, it’s that the Rangers can’t generate any momentum when they are killing penalties.
Justin Williams recorded a hat trick, showing that he is the true Ranger killer. No matter what team he is on, he finds a way to burn the Rangers on an almost nightly basis. Antti Raanta played well, and you can’t really fault him for any of the goals given up. He also made what will probably be his save of the year.
I thought the Rangers had a shot when they pulled to within one with Braden Holtby out of the game, but then the Miller turnover happened.
Another day, another game against the Caps. This is the third time these two meet in roughly four weeks, and the fourth time this season. The Caps dominated the first two outings, with Henrik Lundqvist stealing the first and the Caps blowing out the Rangers in the second.
The third meeting was the best this season, with the Rangers coming back from down 2-0 to take a 3-2 lead. The Caps then scored with six seconds left to tie it, and Alex Ovechkin went end-to-end in a way only he can to win it in overtime. This was the first game that appeared to be evenly matched throughout.
Tonight’s game will be interesting, with the Rangers coming off a lucky win in Philly and the Caps coming off a 4-1 loss in Buffalo. Plus it’s Antti Raanta in net, so you never know.
The Rangers beat their bitter rivals the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday afternoon in a shootout, capping off a game that featured plenty of chances and two great goaltending performances. With the Rangers coming out on top Henrik Lundqvist became the first goalie in NHL history to earn at least 20 wins in each of his first 11 seasons, and Steve Mason played a solid game as well.
Although Philadelphia took the lead early the Rangers came right back and applied the pressure, eventually leading to a sensational goal from JT Miller later in the first. Despite Chris Kreider having the lone goal in the second the Flyers kept things relatively even for the first half of the frame and then spun some momentum out of their opportunities on the man-advantage, carrying it with them into the third. Wayne Simmonds then tied it up and while the Rangers made a late push the game went to overtime.
After a scoreless overtime period the game went to a shootout, where Mats Zuccarello put the kibosh on things with a dazzling goal on Steve Mason. While this was perhaps not the Rangers’ prettiest victory it was a solid two points on the road (in front of the Rangers’ moms!), and hopefully they can carry the momentum with them to Washington on Sunday.
Flyers 1 Rangers 0
The loss on Thursday was a tough one, since the Rangers played well for most of the game, but a lapse for three minutes eventually cost them the game. Luckily the Flyers aren’t as good as the Isles, although they are playing very well of late. Continued process will eventually net results. As long as that process continues –and we are seeing better process with the lineup choice today– then we should be happy.
That said, the Flyers may not be a good team, but they are playing well lately since their salary dumps. Credit Ron Hextall for creating room on the roster and in the cap. His team has responded with four wins in a row and a 6-3-1 record over the last ten games. Steve Mason is a great goalie as well, so this team is no push over.
It’s amazing how things change in a short period of time. Just last season the bedrock of the Rangers’ success was arguably their defensive depth from one to six. This season however we have seen the inconsistencies of Ryan McDonagh, the misuse of Keith Yandle and the relative regression of Marc Staal but especially Dan Girardi. Last season several people thought Kevin Klein was the organisation’s best trade option on the blueline if the Rangers were to strengthen elsewhere because he was dispensable.
Fast forward to this season and the Rangers have (as has been well documented) struggled to keep pucks out of their own net and most people assume, to maintain a mid to long term competitiveness, the Rangers will need to move Girardi and/or Staal to ease the cap problems. Not so much discussion on trading Kevin Klein any more hey?
The defense pairings remained the same. Safe to assume Girardi will play if he can go.