The stretch run for the New York Rangers begins tonight, as one of the league’s best in the Nashville Predators come to town. The Rangers were the biggest players at the trade deadline, acquiring Keith Yandle and James Sheppard, while shipping out Lee Stempniak. Both Yandle and Sheppard will have a positive effect on the Rangers lineup.
The Preds were busy too, albeit much earlier than the Rangers. Since the last time these two played, the Preds got much deeper, adding Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli, while shipping out Olli Jokinen. The Preds are for real folks, and they are a fantastic team. Cam Talbot played one of his best games of the year against the Preds, and the Rangers will need that effort again tonight.
What have they done lately?
The Preds have actually lost two in a row, and are “just” 6-3-1 in their last ten games. Of course, they are 41-15-7 for the season and are the frontrunners for the President’s Trophy, so there’s that.
The Preds are one of the top possession teams in the league, but interestingly enough the Rangers have actually been one of the best since December. The difference is that the Preds have been above 50% all year, while the Rangers have had ebbs and flows in their possession.
As for SPSV/PDO, the Preds have Pekka Rinne, so they, like the Rangers are going to be above the league average of 100 for the most part. They had a dip –much like the Rangers are experiencing now with Hank out– when Rinne was out, but they are getting back to normal for them.
This is a very good team folks.
Laviolette likes to have his team throw two different forechecking looks at the opposition. The first look is the 2-1-2 forecheck, and once the they 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 the defensive zone, the Laviolette 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 Preds play an umbrella powerplay and a hybrid penalty kill.
James Neal-Mike Ribiero-Filip Forsberg
Craig Smith-Matt Cullen-Mike Fisher
Gabriel Bourque-Paul Gaustaud-Eric Nystrom
Colin Wilson-Mike Santorelli-Calle Jarnkrok
Shea Weber-Roman Josi
Mattias Ekholm-Cody Franson
Seth Jones-Viktor Bartley
PK: Fisher, Gaustaud, Nystrom, Jarnkrok, Cullen, Bourque, Josi, Weber, Jones, Ekholm
Pekka Rinne gets the start.
Rangers Lines (unconfirmed)
PP1: Yandle, Stepan, Nash, Brassard, Zuccarello
PP2: Boyle, McDonagh, Kreider, Hayes, MSL
PK: Stepan, Nash, Girardi, Staal, Moore, Fast, Hunwick, Boyle, Hagelin, Klein, McDonagh, MSL
Cam Talbot is in net.
Be sure to check out our ticket link if you’re looking for tickets to the game. Game time is 7pm on MSG.