Game Thread

Game 9: Keep rolling in Philly

Mats Zuccarello

The Rangers have one two in a row, with strong showings at home against San Jose and Arizona. Now the Rangers travel to Philly to take on the Flyers, who are 3-2-1 but have been outscored by three goals thus far. The Flyers got better after demoting Andrew MacDonald (addition by subtraction), but their blue line is a mess and they have about six forwards who can actually do damage. So naturally this feels like a trap game.

Although the Rangers are rolling at 5-2-1, they can play better and get more from their blue line. More specifically, they need more from Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, and Marc Staal. McDonagh seems to be coming on of late after being paired with Kevin Klein, but Girardi and Staal –coming off offseason surgeries– still need some work to find their games. The blue line has chipped in offensively lately, so that could be signs of a turnaround.

What have they done lately?

The Flyers just lost Sean Couturier to an injury, which depleted an already thin forward corps. Their two best defensemen are Mark Streit and Michael Del Zotto. Steve Mason is still a question mark, mostly because we think he’s solid, but the narrative is to assume he isn’t. This isn’t a very deep or strong team, but it’s still Philly. They’ve scored just 13 goals in six games, but have done a relatively well with just 16 goals against in that time frame.

Flyers Systems

It’s been a busy few weeks for me, so I haven’t had much time to update these posts with what Dave Haskol runs. I’ll get this updated, I promise.

Flyers Lines

Michael Raffl-Claude Giroux-Jakub Voracek
Matt Read-Sam Gagner-Wayne Simmonds
R.J. Umberger-Scott Laughton-Brayden Schenn
Chris Vandevelde-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Ryan White

Nick Schultz-Mark Streit
Michael Del Zotto-Radko Gudas
Yevgeny Medvedev-Brandon Manning

PP1: Voracek-Giroux-Simmonds-Raffl-Streit
PP2: Laughton-Umberger-White-Del Zotto-Medvedev

PK: Vandevelde, Bellmare, Laughton, Giroux, White, Gudas, Schultz, Del Zotto, Manning

Steve Mason gets the start.

Rangers Lines

Rick NashDerek StepanMats Zuccarello
Chris KreiderDerick BrassardJesper Fast
Oscar LindbergKevin HayesJ.T. Miller
Viktor StalbergDominic MooreJarret Stoll

Ryan McDonaghKevin Klein
Keith YandleDan Girardi
Marc StaalDan Boyle

PP1: Yandle, Boyle, Nash, Stepan, Zuccarello
PP2: McDonagh, Miller, Kreider, Brassard, Hayes

PK: Stepan, Nash, Moore, Lindberg, Girardi, McDonagh, Staal, Klein

Henrik Lundqvist is in net.

Scratches/Injuries: Emerson Etem (healthy), Dylan McIlrath (healthy)

Crazy Prediction: Hank gets his first shutout of the year (I’m leaving this here until he does. He’s made too many absurd saves for him not to have a shutout yet).

Be sure to check out our ticket link if you’re looking for tickets to the game. Game time is 7pm on MSG. All gifs will be on nyrgifs.com.

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  • Remember when Torts said Hagelin “sucks on the power play”? Love Carl but he’s just been demoted to fourth line on the Ducks. Not a scorer. Gorton was wise not to sign him, tho the jury is way, way out on Etem.

    I like the current alignment we are using. Quickie is sneaky good on second line, effective somehow at bringing out something in his mates. First line is picking it up. Defense has looked better since the pairings were changed.

  • Mason always seems to play well against the Rangers. Need to pressure that D and get turnovers. This would have been a good game for McIlrath to play.

  • How will we ever tell if Mcllrath is an NHL caliber player??, AV is really making it impossible for Mcllrath and Etem to ever get in any type of groove.

    • What is AV’s primary responsibility? Winning games. What approach is more likely to do that? Developing consistency with his combinations or creating lineup instability as a result of finding playing time for the 13F and 7D? AV has been true to his word. He said he wants a fast start to the season. Rotating players runs counter to that stated goal.

      How many contending teams rotate in their 7Ds and 13Fs on any kind of a regular basis?

      The problem is that McIlrath and Etem are miscast in their respective roles. If there weren’t waiver or cap concerns, I can pretty much guarantee that Diaz would be the 7D and Glass the 13F. Not because they are better players, but because as journeyman players, they are better suited for those roles.

      Really, McIlrath and Etem should be playing regularly in Hartford until the Rangers can figure out what their needs are. Since that can’t happen, then they (and their fans) have to be patient.

      I think as long as the Rangers are winning, and there are no injuries, you will see AV largely stick with this lineup early. It’s too early to give players a rest. He said he wants to evaluate what he has over the next 15-20 games. I’m not saying the kids won’t play at all, but if the Rangers can create some cushion in terms of points, then it will be a lot easier to play the kids mid-season when, presumably, veterans need a rest.

      Be patient my friend! McIlrath’s time will come.

  • Am I the only one rooting for Boyle to sustain a minor injury so McIlrath can play a few games.
    Seems like the only way he will get in the lineup is through an injury.
    And does this make me a poor fan?

    • First of all, Boyle is not playing badly. Second, I think it is clear that he is on a very short leash with AV. I think AV wants to give Boyle, a prideful veteran, every chance to succeed. At his best, he CAN be a contributor offensively (wasn’t he the top offensive defenseman for the Rangers in the playoffs last season?).

      But after 15-20 games, if he’s not getting it done, I think it’s much easier to sit him down and have that difficult conversation that AV will have to have with him about accepting a more limited role. It also gives McIlrath a chance to learn the system in practice so that when his number is called, he will be ready. Remember, we are asking a 23yo kid who is not known for his skating or passing to function at a high level on a team competing for the Cup. Let’s give him a chance to learn in practice before AV throws him into a situation he may not be ready for quite yet. We aren’t there in practice. All we’ve seen is a small sample of action in pre-season games.

      So no, Boyle getting hurt does nothing but muddy the waters. Because when he’s ready to come back, then what?

      • I disagree, I think Boyle has been awful, each time he pinches he gets burned, and he is too slow to get back on defense. Each time I see him on the #1 PP unit I cringe. I fail to see what he offers.

      • Ed

        I’m compelled to chime in on this. Your expression of our team is competing for the Cup, really carries no water. Every team in the NHL is competing for the Cup, while developing kids. Now, I’m not saying that Mc Ilrath is ready to play on a regular basis, but that expression, we are competing for a Cup carries no water for me, sorry my friend, but that just gets under my skin.

        • Walt-

          It’s a valid point you make and probably a poor choice of words on my part. However, while it is true that all 30 teams compete for the Cup each season, I think it’s also true that there are realistic contenders like the Rangers and fringe contenders like the Coyotes. It is far easier for a team like the Coyotes to play a Duclair for example then it is for the Rangers to easily transition to McIlrath. And, I think it is even more difficult to transition a young defenseman than it is a young winger.

          The Rangers have done a good job of developing kids in recent years. Kreider, Hayes, Miller, Fast….this year Lindberg. It’s not like AV is against playing young players.

          My point is that it is certainly reasonable for AV to want to give Boyle an opportunity to round into form first before making a change. Ideally, what Boyle was signed for, his ability to generate offense from the point, especially the power play, is a very valuable asset. He was productive in the post-season. But he’s been up and down to start the year. It’s fair to see if he can lift his game or not. 15-20 games should do it, and as long as the Rangers are winning, they can give him that time.

          And, we have no idea what McIlrath is doing in practice….none. So I’m simply saying, AV wants to let the Boyle situation play out, and in the meantime hopefully McIlrath keeps growing and learning in practice. If Boyle struggles and McIlrath shows he’s game ready, then his time will come.

          • Ed

            I don’t argue the points you made, all very sound, but that term just got to me. Nothing personal at all, hope you didn’t take it as such. Time will tell if the kid is ready, or not, and I’m not trying to rush it along!!!!

          • Not at all Walt! It’s a poor choice of words on my part and I will use different terminology in the future.

  • Not a great effort by our team midway through. The 3rd and 4th lines are relatively better. Sometimes our cycle/possession efforts in the O zone seem utterly disorganized. Against a team with weak d-men we could be content to wear them down.

      • I agree, but the call didn’t shock me. It needed to be conclusive to overturn it. I didn’t think that challenge would go our way.

        • Nothing refs do in any sport surprises me anymore, replay just gives them another outlet to screw up and skew things in one teams favor.

    • So the precedent has been set by the NHLs explanation. Stoll made incidental contact with mason which prevented him from doing his job. My interpretation of this: any contact with the goalie in the crease will result in no goal.

      with the way “distinct kicking motion” calls have been made with the Rangers I give this 9 games before hank is interfered with but the call will be a good goal.

        • I have no problem with the call if it stays consistent. I just have no faith in this system because in the past I see a “distinct kicking motion” ruling and then I feel that I have a good grasp of how the rule will be interpreted. Then another questionable goal will go to replay and I will think to myself that based on previous calls I think I know where this is going. Then my interpretation on the rule will be thrown out the window with whatever side landed face up on the coin that Toronto flipped.

  • Flyers look much better this year without Berube behind the bench. Rangers spent much of the time either shooting too quickly or holding the puck too long. In other words, their timing is still not there offensively.

  • Entertaining game. Disappointing ending. I’ll take the road point. Usually, we’re real good on the night two of back to backs. So, expecting a big effort tomorrow and hopefully 3 out of 4 points for the weekend.

    Stalberg won’t play tomorrow. So we’ll see Etem.

  • Hank was superb again! He bailed out Boyle on that horrid turnover and the save on Simmonds was tremendous.

    Hayes needs to move the puck. He’s been trying to carry the puck through traffic and it’s just not working.

    Kreider HAS TO assert himself. 1 SOG is not cutting it. For someone so big and fast, I’ll never understand how he manages to become invisible on the ice. Approaching game #10, I hope he was saving it all for Calgary tonight.

    Zuccarello is so steady. He plays his game, and he plays it every shift. Smart, patient with the puck and aggressive without it. For someone so small, I’ll never understand how he manages to look like the biggest player on the ice.

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