It’s no secret, the New York Rangers have not been dressing their best possible lineup on a game-to-game basis. We’ve gone over why Tanner Glass, who is a great guy, is not the best option to have in the lineup. Even his staunchest defenders have backed off, realizing that he doesn’t drive the play, is out of position in the defensive zone, and generally hurts his teammates when on the ice.

But yet, Glass is in the lineup almost every night.  He’s in the lineup at the expense of J.T. Miller, a kid with great potential who is already a better player than Glass. He is in the lineup over Lee Stempniak, a veteran who is a better player than Glass. He’s in the lineup over Jesper Fast, who is by far the best defensive player of this quartet. Earlier in the season, he was in the lineup over Anthony Duclair and Kevin Hayes.

When you don’t dress your best lineup, you open yourself up to questions when the team loses tough games. The 1-0 loss against Montreal comes to mind. Would Miller have score or made a difference? Maybe, maybe not. But that question doesn’t get asked if Miller plays.

And spare me the “Glass is physical” garbage. Miller is just as physical, the difference is that he doesn’t make the “big hit” that everyone loves. Glass delivers those on occasion. Every time that hit gets delivered, one of his linemates hanging out to dry.

But Dave, we need someone in the lineup who can stand up for our stars so they don’t get pushed around.

Teams don’t use goons anymore. Star guys aren’t getting pushed around. This isn’t 80’s or 90’s hockey anymore. There’s a difference between big, physical guys and big, physical guys that can actually play. The former is a dying breed in the NHL. That doesn’t eliminate the physicality from the game, it eliminates the stupidity from the game. Very few are sitting there head hunting stars. Heck, those guys barely get 5 minutes of ice time a night nowadays.

Miller isn’t perfect. He’s prone to making the same mistakes consistently, and can be an unmitigated disaster in the defensive zone. He’s not worse than Glass in the defensive zone though. Miller can add more offense and can play a physical role. He’s not going to drop the mitts with Zac Rinaldo though, and that’s not really a bad thing.

Stempniak isn’t perfect, but he’s good at pushing the play up the ice and generating shot attempts. He’s also solid in his own zone. He’s not Benoit Pouliot offensively, but he is great defensively.

At this point it’s about proper deployment of your assets. Stempniak is solid in the DZ. Miller likely needs sheltered minutes. It was just last season when the Pouliot-Brassard-Zucc line got 60% offensive zone starts. Yet, this can’t be done with, say, Hagelin-Hayes-Miller? Then you have your defensive shutdown line of Stemp-Dom Moore-Fast.

That’s a bottom six you can roll with.

Otherwise, you have Glass in for Stemp, and then that line can’t handle the DZ starts. Or you have Glass in for Miller, Fast moves to the third line, and you have a third line RW that isn’t built for OZ starts, and a fourth line that still handle DZ starts because of Glass.

With Glass in the lineup, the team doesn’t dress their best lineup. Period. Hockey is a four line game, the Rangers can only play three.

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