Game Thread

Game 22: Protect the puck better against Montreal

rangers canadiens
Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The Rangers were horrid on Monday night, and somehow came away with a win. Tonight they face a Montreal Canadiens team that thoroughly dominated them last month, and are one of the favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference this year. Montreal has been superb. Carey Price is following up his Vezina/Hart campaign with another solid year. The Habs basically score at will, and their defense has been great thus far.

As for the Rangers, well they need to play better. For the first 21 games, they’ve been hemorrhaging shot attempts, and it’s taken herculean efforts from Henrik Lundqvist to ensure victory. That can’t continue, and Montreal is a team that will beat them into the ground if they continue to play that way. Play better with the puck, and the ice will finally tilt in the other team’s direction. No team, none, can continually win by sitting and waiting for counter attacks. Sooner or later, those opportunities won’t come. Puck possession, dirty shots, dirty goals. They are needed.

Habs Systems

Under Michel Therrien, the Canadiens play a 1-2-2 forecheck, but do use a 2-1-2 style from time to time based on the score and puck location. Though this team prefers to want to play passive and clog up the neutral zone. Like the Rangers, Montreal’s defensive zone system is to overload when the puck is along the boards and man-on-man when the puck is down low.

What’s interesting is that Therrien has said in the past that they overload the boards because of their team size and speed (note: small and fast). On special teams, the Habs play your standard umbrella powerplayOn the penalty kill, they rotate between a diamond force and a box depending on puck location. They really look to pressure the opposition all over the ice when shorthanded.

Habs Lines

Max Pacioretty-Tomas Plekanec-Devante Smith-Pelley
Lars Eller-Alex Galchenyuk-Sven Andrighetto
Tomas Fleischmann-David Desharnais-Dale Weise
Paul Byron-Brian Flynn-Alex Semin

Andrei Markov-P.K. Subban
Nathan Beaulieu-Jeff Petry
Tom Gilbert-Alexei Emelin

PP1: Pacioretty-Galchenyuk-Plekanec-Markov-Subban
PP2: Fleishmann-Desharnais-Semin-Beaulieu-Petry

PK: Flynn, Byron, Eller, Fleishmann, Plekanec, Pacioretty, Subban, Markov, Petry, Gilbert

Carey Price gets the start

Rangers Lines

Rick NashDerick BrassardMats Zuccarello
Chris KreiderDerek StepanKevin Hayes
J.T. MillerOscar LindbergJesper Fast
Jarret StollDominic MooreViktor Stalberg

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi
Marc StaalKevin Klein
Keith YandleDan Boyle

PP1: Nash-Stepan-Zuccarello, Brassard-McDonagh
PP2: Kreider-Hayes-Lindberg, Yandle-Klein

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

Henrik Lundqvist is in net.

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

Crazy Prediction: Um. The Rangers play better?

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

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    • No surprise. AV’s been pretty clear about how and when he’s going to rest Boyle. You’ll see McIlrath for sure this weekend. Probably Etem too.

  • Have to go top shelf on Price because he spends most of his life butterflied and on his knees. Blocker side is his weak side so shots from pt need to go that way. He’s so big its hard to score on him low when he’s down.

  • I’ll get crucified for this but it seems to me that Montreal is a much better coached team. We have no forecheck & against a speed team like Montreal you can’t give them that much time to move the puck. Board work is also abysmal. Rangers don’t move anyone off the puck along the boards.

    • Your observations as to what happening in the early stages are correct. But to say the reasons are because we are being out coached? Wow!

      • You heard it. I know AV has a stupendously great record but seriously sometimes I think we have Roger Neilson back there. You can see these guys THINKING out there, where am I supposed to be?

        • Did AV out coach Therrien in ’14? Or did the Rangers win in spite of the inferior coaching?

          Maybe we are being out GMed? Maybe our strength and conditioning guy isn’t as good as there’s. 🙂

          Or maybe, just maybe, the players have do more tonight. Maybe Hayes needs to up his game. And Kreider.

          • In 2014 they had no Price & we had a stupendous MSL, so who knows. Hey I may be wrong

          • Didn’t finish my sentence–Hey I may be wrong but I can’t seem to shake my nagging doubts abt AV. Heaven knows I’ve tried but they keep sneaking back.

          • In the two years AV has been here, he has taken his team’s further than Therrien’s. In Therrien’s first year in Montreal, he got bounced in the first round. Who’s been the more successful post season coach?

            I heard the same thing about Trotz last year. Another guy also supposedly better than AV. Of course, Trotz has never gotten past the second round.

            Why do I have a feeling that the blogs in DC and Montreal would be feeling that their guy is more Roger Nielsen than our guy?

            That being said, tonight is a stinker thus far. Bring back Jean Guy Talbot! 🙂

  • Very disappointing first period so far…..After the last 3 games you would think they would play much better than displayed so far

    • Sitting in the press box, taking the splinters out of his a**, AV is just too stubborn , Mcllrath should be in this game, Etem in for Stalberg.

      • Makes no sense whatsoever what you are saying. Not tonight. Not at this juncture. Do you think Therrien thought about ways he can get his 7D and 13F in against the Rangers? I doubt it.

        What net clearing has McIlrath done in his appearances thus far this season? Any? Do you think he can handle Montreal’s speed? You actually think McIlrath at this point would be making a difference tonight against the Montreal Canadiens????

        In time, that may be the right move. Certainly not tonight. It’s a process.

        I do think we will see both this weekend. I suggest they make the most of their opportunities when they get the chance. They haven’t really done so to this point.

        • “it’s a process”–Jaysus, you’re not Eddie, you are really AV aren’t you? Yes, McIlrath would make a difference because he can move guys off the puck. Well. you are certainly not going to be at the top of your game playing every 5th or 6th game. Bobby is right, AV is more stubborn than an unfed mule. He needs to start sitting guys like Stalberg and even Fast & maybe even Stoll.

          • Sit Fast? Last time that happened our PK looked like dog doo. And if he does that, then we’ll hear, AV hates the kids, why does he have a double standard, blah, blah, blah.

            You can make the case of Etem for Stalberg…but Stalberg has had his moments tonight.

            I have no idea what sitting Stoll accomplishes.

            “McIlrath would make a difference because he can move guys off the puck”….but you forgot to add this to the end of the sentence….”in the AHL”. Again, show me the highlight when he’s done that here?

            I will say it again, AV said it loud and clear, Boyle is going to be rested. Back to back games are coming up. I’m sure we will see our AHL savior soon enough. The 7D plays sparingly on every team. McIlrath is the 7D for now, until he proves otherwise.

        • And more than net clearing McIlrath’s real value comes along the boards. In the corners he moves forwards off the puck to break up the cycle. Our D don’t do that enough & neither do our forwards. Board play wins championships Eddie, that’s where Cups are won & lost.

          • Fair point and good observation. I’ll give you that. He’s been ok along the boards. But hardly a difference maker thus far.

            A 7D has to stay ready and shine when he gets the chance, limited as they may be. He’s been ok, but not in any way eye opening–yet.

          • Ya like Hunwick last year, he’s really shining in TO right now 🙂 So who exactly has been “eye-opening” on the Rangers D this year?

          • Hunwick played because of the plethora of defensive injuries, period.

            He’s been fine in Toronto on a bad team. What’s the point? Are you saying you’d prefer Hunwick as 7D over McIlrath? We agree! 🙂

        • Ed

          It appears to me that you’ve become the apologist for this team. AV could do no wrong, the GM could possibly be wrong, maybe, the team plays solid, Mc Ilrath is a nobody, Kreider, and Miller stink up the place, and vets get paid more, the cost of doing business????????????

          That’s garbage……….. They are playing heartless, no emotions at all, and Carey is in this teams head.

          AV does indeed have favorites, Glass is a great example of it, base on what we saw last season. This team is soft, but that style has gone by the wayside. You seem to have all the bases covered for the Rangers when they just go out and play terrible hockey. Nothing personal, but our record is based on smoke, and mirrors………..

          • Right on Walt, last night our team was as soft as baby’s doo-doo & when a team comes out seemingly unready to play & confused at every turn, you have to Q the coaching. For instance, in his interview AV says Rangers were good in first two periods. Really? They were putrid in the first period. Makes me wonder.

          • Walt, Bill Parcells said it best–

            “You are what your record says you are”

            It’s a long season filled with ups and downs. Clearly, there are things the Rangers have to improve on. But that’s the case with every team in the league. The coach sees it. He’s been in a pretty intense and pissed off mood. The players seem furious with themselves. This is a prideful group. They deserve the chance to figure it out and not be taken to the woodshed yet. It is, after all, just one loss. It’s not like they are 4-16-2 here.

            And I’m sure Gorton and Sather are evaluating everything. Maybe McIlrath and Etem prove when they get in there that they are ready to make a difference and they get slotted in eventually….when they’re ready. Maybe a Skjei or Graves, or even a Buchnevich, will be ready for a late season call up. There will be trades to explore and one or two to consummate. The roster and performance we see now is not what it will be come March. It never is. Same for virtually every team that looks to fortify before the start of the playoffs.

            I’m not a team apologist. I base it all on track record. We have a coach and a group that has proven over and over that they know how to get it done with successful regular seasons and deep post season runs. We all lived through the dark ages (1998-2005). Now that was a time to demand that heads roll and people be held accountable. This is a great, great era right now. But it’s not perfect.

            So, my advice, enjoy your Thanksgiving turkey, watch some football, be thankful we’ve had such a enjoyable Rangers team to root for these last few years, and let’s get ready for better efforts ahead. History says that’s exactly what we should expect.

  • We are not going to win tonight. They already have a defeat look to them. This team gets in the Rangers head big time. I think this game was lost even before it was started.
    Rangers are way too timid against this team. Too much respect for them. Get angry…go fight…grind…..sheeesh

    • Leather the key word in your sentence is GRIND unfortunately we do not have those type of players especially on defense on this team. I will say Oscar Linderg is the total package he is not afraid to throw his body, Zucc too, the rest are more interested in speed skating and stick checking!!

      • Ya Bobby I thought the same thing during the game that the players were stick checking way too much instead of using their bodies.

  • Seriously how many times tonight has a Ranger lost an edge. Fire the skate sharpening guy & get a new one. Even Lundquist isn’t happy with his skates. Brutal, brutal.

  • I think AV used to get bullied in high school and hates aggression. Since he has been a coach this team has never been physical under his tutelage. Another thing always missing is someone in the slot….ughhhh I miss my neanderthal days.
    They do need to score a goal…get this monkey off their back

    And just as I wrote that we score a powerplay goal…finally

      • No NHL team will touch him with a ten foot pole these days.

        You think he’d play your boy? He’d trade away all the youth and grab veterans. Remember, Smith had to say no when he insisted on swapping Leetch for Chelios.

        What did Keenan win before he came to NY, or after he bailed? Nothing. In Chicago, where I was at the time, the organization couldn’t wait to show him he door. And in NY, he nearly blew the team up by negotiating his exit in the middle of the playoff run. Disgraceful. I’ve interviewed some of the ’94 Rangeds and most of his players DESPISED him. Messier was THE reason why Keenan got a Cup. I think a lot of that team believes they won in spite of him, not because of him.

        • Who cares if players despised him? Players despise Babcock too(he’s just like Mike). Actually you have some facts wrong. I wrote a letter to Blueshirt Bulletin in 1993 saying that if we hired Keenan & played Richter we’d win the Cup. Check it out. It was Neil Smith who didn’t want to hire Keenan but he was forced to by Checketts(?) or whoever. And he also planned to fire Keenan even if they won the Cup & it got out. That’s what got things in an uproar. Neil Smith was a donkey, so he cooked up that malarky story to rationale firing Keenan. He was a big part of us winning that Cup(ask Mess) and he used that Chelios gambit to get the greatest season ever out of Leetch. And his team in Russia loved him. I’ve got a lengthy great story about him & his life in Russia on my computer. And BTW his team was awesome in controlling the boards and he did it with some marginal D too–Wells & Lidster. Say what you want but Iron Mike is one of the greatest coaches ever. He got fired because he wanted control of who played and GMs didn’t like that.

        • Eddie, All bloggers for that matter, go to YouTube, google 1994 Ranger meet & greet by Brandon Steiner AWESOME get together of members of the 94 cup team, 20 yrs later. Coaches/Players/Announcers, great insight. That 94 team could play anyway you wanted, Speed/Grind/Fight/Pass.

          • Hey BOBBY thanks for the info. I watched the whole thing & it was magical. So many insights on what it takes to win & abt team. Mess says it all starts with culture & that without that strategy etc means nothing. Interesting how Gravey says that they would beat teams at the Garden in the first ten minutes of the game. That is something we don’t see from the current team. And they gave a lot of credit for that to Iron Mike. Check this out–

          • Great stuff, Bobby and Paul. My Parcells philosophy of “you are what your record says you are” has to apply here too. He won the Cup. That’s all that matters.

            But would I want him today as my coach? No way. He doesn’t fit the style of the modern player. He quickly wears out his welcome everywhere he goes. He was just fired recently at Mettalurg in the KHL after winning a championship. No surprise.

            When I look at Iron Mike, I see a tortured genius. Kind of like Billy Martin. Brilliant, yet deeply flawed. In Keenan’s case, he was blessed with some incredibly talented teams. Given the level of talent, he only won one Cup in his career. I certainly think that given the same talent, a calmer, more even, more reliable approach like we saw from Scotty Bowman and Glen Sather would have resulted in more success.

            I have mixed feelings about Keenan as a Ranger. He treated guys on that team like dirt. His coaching performance in Games 4 and 5 vs the Devils was an abysmal disgrace. And at the same time, he acted like cowardly scum by trying to negotiate with the Red Wings in the middle of that series to create an exit. He created a distraction that almost ruined the season. It was Messier, the greatest captain in sports history, that had to beg Keenan to please not give up. Messier, effectively, became the de facto coach.

            Keenan deserves credit, of course. But no where near to the same level that other championship coaches deserve.

            The guy is more train wreck than anything else that none of the 30 GMs in the NHL would touch with a ten foot pole.

          • Don’t agree with that at all. Watch Bobby’s video. He deserves just as much credit as anyone.

          • And just to correct your facts players absolutely HATED Scotty Bowman as well. A friend of mine’s brother-in-law played for Bowman and he was Keenan’s mentor actually.

          • Fair enough. I never interviewed Bowman or spoke to anyone who played for him or worked with him, so I’ll go with your perspective.

            However, the difference is that Bowman knew how to effectively manage his players and ownership and stay employed. Keenan was a power hungry train wreck who couldn’t hold a job. I’ve spoken to people who worked with him in Chicago and NY. They couldn’t wait to see him go. He didn’t value anyone else’s input. Ultimately, it was all about him. And again, his scheme to exit the Rangers was deplorable. Not the kind of person anyone wants in their organization. You hire him, hold your nose, deal with the crap, and then hope he wins a Cup before the team implodes. That worked once with the Rangers, and that was it. That doesn’t work in a salary cap era where team building is everything.

            Again, I ask you, if Mike Keenan was considered to be a difference maker coach who could win a Cup today, don’t you think someone would hire him?

            He’s not hirable today because the league has changed, and his style won’t work in today’s game.

            AV is the epitome of the modern coach. No fancy sound bites or public explosions. His disciplinary approach is all handled behind closed doors, out of public view. Very similar to Joe Torre and Bruce Bochy.

            Think about all coaches and managers in all four major sports. Who are most of them like? AV or Keenan?

            The Rangers players ran Torts, a similar kind of coach to Keenan, out of the organization. Why? He treated a lot of his guys like gum under his shoe, he wore out his welcome, and that was that. The Rangers are now considered one of the best destinations, if not THE best destination to play, in the league. That is due in part to the positive environment the coach creates. Torts got fired after one year in Vancouver despite being owed a bunch of money, couldn’t get a sniff until the Jackets were in such desperate straights, they had no choice but to go with him. Sounds like Keenan, Jr.

            You can’t run a modern pro sports team with an iron first anymore. The players won’t accept it, right or wrong. It takes a more nuisanced approach.

            I realize the Torts/Keenan approach is more fun after a loss like yesterday. We as fans want to see the coach blast his team . It makes US feel better. But it eventually creates dissension and loses the room in the modern world of sports.

  • Oh God, this is too too painful, they are forechecking us to death. Every time we try to leave the zone it’s like they know what’s coming and are on the side board forward faster than you can say Fast.

  • Well, the silver lining in this is they were due for a loss. No matter how much introspection a team does, it’s hard to face the music when you just keep on winning. And this is going to be a butt ugly loss that will get their attention.

    And, I know you guys want to see McIlrath and Etem, but really no coach is going to insert their 7D and 13F against the best team in the league when you’ve been on a roll. This is the perfect time now this weekend to send a message and get those two in to at least one game. I’d play ’em in both actually.

    If he doesn’t, I will be right with you critici get AV and leading the charge to bring back John Muckler! 🙂

    • Actually it’s little known but Muckler was the coaching brains behind all those Oiler Cups. Ask Mess, he’ll tell you.

    • And just to give you more ammunition to knee cap me, I also have grave doubts abt Ulfie too. Secretly I was hoping he’d get that Carolina head coaching job two years ago so Beuke could take his spot. There I’ve come out of the closet on that! 🙂

      • On that, I have no opinion. I look at assistants as whatever the HC wants. No idea if Beuke would make a better assistant. He wouldn’t if AV has no chemistry with him.

  • Lundqvuist should not play against Montreal, no knock on him….he just gets toasted by them. Montreal has his number…plain and simple. He does more harm than good against this team

  • Appropriate on Thanksgiving eve, we have the turkey of all turkey games!

    Ladies and gentlemen, have a nice dinner tomorrow, enjoy time with friends and family, and everything will feel better when we reconvene on Friday.

    And, I want to give thanks for having this site…..whether we agree or disagree, you all are the best Rangers fans out there!

    Despite tonight, enjoy!

  • happy thanksgiving! I think the guys ate their turkey didn’t answer the bell even with Price got hurt again. I see a better effort against boston on Friday.

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