Game Thread

Game 21: Sweep the home and home

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

After Monday night’s dominating win in Pittsburgh, the Penguins are in MSG tonight on the tail end of the home-and-home. The Rangers have a major opportunity here. They can make a big time statement with a win tonight, thus sweeping the home-and-home. A win says they are for real, and it is a signal to the rest of the league that they need to be taken seriously.

The lineups are the same. The goaltending matchup likely will be the same. But now the teams will face off after seeing each other and being able to adjust to the style of play. The Rangers appeared to take the Penguins by surprise with their speed in the second and third periods on Monday. Will the Penguins adjust? Can the Rangers contain the Penguins speed and come out with a better first period? We shall see.

Penguins Systems

The best part about facing the Penguins is that the Rangers faced them last year. So I have a very detailed systems comparison between the two teams. Go check it out here.

If you don’t want to read it, here’s the long and short of it. Mike Sullivan has the Penguins running a 2-1-2 forecheck, much like Sully used to have when he was an assistant here under John Tortorella. The Penguins run a full zone in the defensive zone, overloading the boards and switching to a box+1 depending on puck location. On special teams, Sully runs a 1-3-1/umbrella hybrid powerplay and a full fledged zone hybrid (box, diamond, wedge+1) penalty kill.

For more details on hockey systems, check out our Systems page.

Penguins Lines:

Carl HagelinSidney Crosby-Conor Sheary
Jake Guentzel-Evgeni MalkinPhil Kessel
Scott Wilson-Nick Bonino-Bryan Rust
Tom Kuhnhackl-Matt Cullen-Eric Fehr

Brian Dumoulin-Kris Letang
Olli Maata-Travor Daley
Justin Schultz-Ian Cole

PP1: Crosby-Sheary-Kessel-Malkin-Letang
PP2: Guentzel-Bonino-Wilson-Daley-Schultz

Marc-Andre Fleury gets the start.

Rangers Lines:

Chris KreiderKevin HayesMats Zuccarello
Michael GrabnerDerek StepanRick Nash
Jimmy VeseyBrandon PirriJ.T. Miller
Josh Jooris-Oscar LindbergJesper Fast

Ryan McDonaghDan Girardi
Marc StaalBrady Skjei
Nick HoldenKevin Klein

PP1: Kreider-Miller-Pirri-Zucc-McDonagh
PP2: Nash-Stepan-Vesey-Hayes-Girardi

Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.

Injuries/Scratches: Mika Zibanejad (leg), Adam Clendening (healthy), Pavel Buchnevich (upper body), Matt Puempel (healthy)

Crazy Prediction: Sweeeeeeep.

Game time is 7pm. Gifs are on @blueseatblogs. Be sure to follow our snapchat (blueseatblogs) too!

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      1. It’s the usual nonsense Richter from an obvious hater. In fairness, Hank should have had the third goal. Beyond that, it was all fluky stuff he had no chance to stop.

        1. I’m just frustrated by the hate our franchise player gets. Similar to Eli on the Giants.

          Where is the accountability for the forwards when they are scoring less than 2 goals per game in playoff games? Where is the “outcry” for goals?

          There is one reason for whatever success the Rangers have had the last 10 years, the man in nets.

          Is he “slowing down?” maybe. but he’s been Godlike prior to this stopping shot after shot that most goalies do not stop so when us spoiled fans don’t see that then he’s a “sieve.”

          Fun fact for all the King contract haters: If you add up the contracts for the King and Raanta, then those combined cap hits are in line with over 80% of the other teams’ goalie tandems, so exactly how is his contract hurting the team?

          1. How about one of em at least ? Crosby goal he has the post covered , wheres he going reading a white shirt sitting there , Kessel just a usual High Glove spanking … yeah first one they worked for and last one was a bounce ….. Happy Tanksgiving

          2. As a King fan and defender I am not going to sit here and say he’s played the same as always so far.

            But this is what you’re missing, the guy has played at a HOF level for the past 10 years but the only time we hear from fans like you, and I know some others too, is when he lets in a soft goal, not the other 1 million spectacular saves he makes that has saved this team time and time again. That’s frustrating and unfair.

            Happy Thanksgiving to you and your as well my friend.

          3. Maybe his in the net style needs an adjustment ,6 inches could make a bit of difference at that level ….. like I said before, good goalie its just the contract that kills it, was it his fault,no , but that 2-3 million (I think 6-6.5 is max for any goalie unless he brings u cups every year ) could have been used else where … 85 mil he should be standing on his head night in and night out …. and the shruking when he makes a save is starting to get annoying,that ur job,stop the puck when you have to …. I’m going to eat !

          4. enjoy your TG dinner.

            I will say that sometimes he is too deep in his net, yes, that I agree with.

            As for the contract, all the teams have total goalie cap hits in the $8-$10M range. they have cap space now. but I think the bigger point is that if they had a lesser goalie then the Rangers would not even have the success they have had. no way a lesser goalie keeps the team in games like the King did, or even steal as many games in wins.

  1. Just turned on the game. WTF 5-1 Pittsburgh. Raanta in goal. What happened to Henk? Was he being Hardy Astrom again?

  2. Should rest Hank the rest of the season so he’s ready for his window in Vegas !!

  3. National television game at home FCKN embarrassing. First shot on goal in the third with what 3:44 to go. When you put on the sweater and step on the ice you should be ready to play hard for 60 minutes. NOT EMBARRASSE YOURSELF.

  4. For all you old timers. Remember the “monster of the garden”? The deafening roar that started in the cheap seats and reverberated throughout the arena ALL game long. Know why it’s missing? Because we have a team that lacks passion and inspiration. Lacks a leader both behind the bench and on the ice. McD is a great D-man but NOT captain material. This team doesn’t have any semblance of physicality and therefore we get what we saw last night AND in last years playoffs. Teams WILL check us tighter and we, being one dimensional with speed and nothing else, will not have an answer. And PLEASE stop blaming everyone BUT Hank. He was horrible.

    1. Jerry,
      I agree with you on how the “Monster of the Garden’s” absence has been extremely disappointing and frankly very depressing, as it was a major reason why I became a Ranger fan.
      However, I don’t believe the lack of passion from the fans at the Garden lately have anything to do with us not being an physical team.

      Yes it helps for sure, especially back in the day, but the loudest and craziest times I’ve ever had the privilege of witnessing going to games was in the 80’s during the “Smurfs” era Club. Those teams weren’t the most physical but they played with passion.

      However, putting the argument aside of wether this team is passionate or not. I honestly still don’t think that, even if you had the most passionate playing team on the ice the crowd is still gonna be tame..

      Unfortunately, in my opinion, the Garden is what it is, but for completely different reasons.

  5. Happy Thanksgiving to all.

    I was at the game and basically it comes down to 3 games in 4 nights on the west coast followed up by 4 games in 6 nights. Too many games in too few nights. Thank Bettman for his stupid World Cup ruining the NHL product.

    They had dead legs after the first period, that’s it. Has zero to do with the Pens being that much better than the Rangers. Rangers outshot 16-0 in the 3rd at one point. Enough said. Just burn the tape and forget it.

    But it also emphasizes the point of not putting too much credence into games in November to make statements as to whether this team are contenders or not.

    Pat, great seeing you after the first period.

  6. Top 5 Reasons rangers lost—
    1. Crosby sends clear message to his team when he rag dolls mcdonagh and sticks up for his teammates
    2. No rangers player responds when their captain is attacked
    3. Penguins have more fight and aggressiveness in them than the rangers do
    4. Penguins realize the rangers, when challenged with a nasty game will just roll over and die
    5. Rangers dont want it as bad

    This is why I say Fire AV , this team is SOFT . by his doing. and will lose in the playoffs if they face the penguins again!!!!!!!

    1. i would say no, AV has proven already this season he can coach, i am hoping the team grows some grit somehow…

      i also agree, the team is spent, many games… pittsburgh wanting it more last night, maybe, they got sparked by the crosby McD play.. we just couldn’t get it going…

      one game doesnt define the actions people are asking for…

      trade hank
      fire the coach

      last time i looked were just about tp dog in the league…

      slow your roll haters, chillax

  7. Will the real Chris Kreider please stand up? Why does this guy time and time again, fall into the same pattern of disappearing? Big tough Cindy intimidated our best player and the Rangers put their heads down and skated away. Then to boot, the Penguins get the man advantage. That is when you need somebody to step up physically and disrupt the flow of the other team. The game has changed, but if there was some grit and standing up, the whole flow of the game just could have been altered.

  8. The Rangers go in to Pittsburgh and erase a two goal deficit but scoring 5 unanswered goals. Two nights later Pitt comes in to the garden and puts up 6 goals on us. Now it’s just the Rangers that have a huge problem? Didn’t they just split a home and home with the defending cup champions? Why are we suddenly questioning how this team is built? Why can’t we just say that they are an elite team that had an off night against a team that if you don’t bring your A game against (which they did 2 nights earlier) they will embarrass you. No one showed up last night, including the goalie. This type of performance has been the exception, not the rule this season. So let’s not bring up how this team is built to fail.

    One horrible 2nd period and the #fireAV crew is out in force. Talk about a knee jerk reaction.

  9. I e said it before and will say it again to many nice guys on this team. That was before DMc was traded.

  10. First of all, Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    Leave it to Spozo and Richter to bring some sanity to an otherwise totally unhinged thread of comments. My goodness! We embarrass the defending Stanley Cup Champions on their home ice, then take a 1-0 lead on them last night. So suddenly we are shocked when the Pens show why they were champions last season and storm back…in exactly the same manner we did on Monday night….with relentless effort that led to some really dirty and fluky goals.

    Spozo said it best….we SPLIT the home and home vs arguably THE best team in hockey. Despite the ugly 2nd period, I’ll take that result any day.

    But of course, the haters who pretty much ONLY post when we lose, who seem to revel when the team fails, come out after ONE horrible loss, and say the coach should be fired, Hank sucks, the team has no heart or grit. Absolutely unbelievable.

    Now, maybe some of you are delusional and believe the Rangers are just SO much better than the rest of the league, that they should go out for all 82 games and have a Grade A effort every time out there, especially this season with a truncated schedule that makes that pretty much impossible to achieve for all 30 teams.

    This is a very good and very entertaining Rangers team, but right now, that’s it. It remains to be seen if this team truly has the star power to legitimately compete against the elite teams like TB, Pit, Was and Chi who have future HOF stars on their roster. If our “stars” build on the success they had at the quarter pole and a few of them truly become elite players (Hayes, Kreider, Miller perhaps?), then with the depth they have, they would have a great chance to surprise come playoff time. But the overreaction when we win on Monday (there’s no doubt this team’s legit!) to when we lose on Wednesday (we suck) is truly hilarious.

    It was a bad, awful, horrible game. Appropriately, the Rangers were turkeys the night before Thanksgiving, just as the Pens were on Monday. I say move on, have turkey tonight and be thankful for the exciting hockey we’ve seen thus far this season, and look forward to a better effort and result Friday.

    Relax and Enjoy your feast!

    1. Again, we don’t proclaim them “Cup champs” for Monday’s game and we don’t proclaim them a top 10 draft pick team after last night’s game.

      It’s funny how fans “assess” the year end success or failure of the team based on individual games, especially in November.

      Brooks said today that last year we were 16-3-1 at this time and then got pasted on TG eve by the Habs, leading to a very bad stretch in games after that loss.

      I think this team is light years ahead of last year so I don’t see it happening. But here is where I am concerned and it reinforces my belief that the offense is currently masking the D flaws, where Brooks said the Rangers are way under .500 when the team scores 3 goals or less this year so far. THAT does not bode well going forward as there is no way they are going to score 4/5 goals per game all year.

      Vesey went from going on an 70 goal pace to 24 very quickly. When he had 6 in 8 games I said right away that I “hope” he ended up with 25 for the year. Things change quickly.

      1. I read Brooks this morning and agree with his analysis and yours. Also agree this team is much better and shouldn’t have the free fall we saw last year.

        Many people forget that the slump last season also coincided with the rib injury to Stepan. The Rangers were awful with him out, and the team didn’t really play its best hockey until he was back in form.

        Also, while the dynamics are different this year, this is still in some ways the “no margin for error” Rangers we’ve been watching for the past decade. They win when they overachieve. When all the pieces are healthy and clicking, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In the past, it was about shutdown defense and Hank being insanely good and winning lots of low scoring games. This year, it’s about a four line dynamic offense gives the defense and goaltender some breathing room.

        The team has sputtered a bit in the last 4 (1-2-1), and that’s because the sum of its parts are no longer as good or as deep due to injuries. Injuries derailed this team in the 2015 playoffs, and contributed greatly to their erratic play last year. There is little in the way of high level star power on this team. So you lose two key pieces like Mika and Buch for an extended period, that’s going to hurt the Rangers in my view more than no Hornqvist or Kunitz would affect the Pens. Why? They have three of the greatest players of this era (Crosby, Malkin and Letang), and greatness can often cover for weaknesses or injuries. For the Rangers to be succesful, ALL the pieces have to be clicking. There are no Messiers or Leetchs to put a team on their back when the going gets tough. If you look at pretty much every SC champion of recent vintage, all of them had those iconic players. The Rangers, at the moment, really don’t.

        Miller and Hayes are off to great starts. Grabner too. But can they sustain this? Can they be go to guys that can carry a team through the tough moments the way a Crosby can? Highly improbable. Kreider was off to a great start, but the injury has cooled him off. We’ve been waiting forever for him to finally fulfil his enormous potential. Is he fully healthy enough to do it? Is he actually capable of doing that? If yes, we have a great chance. If not, then we really don’t.

        I’m a Hank supporter and defender. He’s been mostly good thus far, but he’s not yet been dominant. He’s hasn’t really stolen us any games yet. I have no doubt he will get on one of his hot streaks soon, but again, if the offense is going to be encumbered somewhat with Buch and Mika out, he will certainly have to raise his game.

        Bottom line now is simple. Hang in there until they get healthy. Pile up enough points to be in solid playoff position. Assess weaknesses that need to be addressed. The Rangers will be in a very unique position (for them) at the deadline, in that they should have substantial cap space to make a significant deal to address a need prior to the deadline.

        Bottom line, it’s actually beneficial to have some losing streaks and be exposed to an extent. Better to see the warts now in order to address and be ready for meaningful games come Springtime.

        1. Perfectly said my friend.

          If you look at the last 10 games the Rangers are 29th in corsi. Shouldn’t really be surprising if you watch all the games because even in winning they are not dominating opponents as they did earlier. I mean at some point opponents will adjust to them and not let them skate around freely scoring 4/5 goals per game.

          Plus, 18% shooting %? Not sustainable, not without elite forwards like Malkin or Crosby on the team. Who is elite on the team? King and McD, that’s it. No “stars” on the front end since Nash isn’t what he was in the past. It’s a collectively deep group where one night it’s one line and another night it’s another line.

          But honestly, why would you ever split up Miller and Hayes? They should be tied at the hip for the season IMO.

          Top 4 D man needed bro. No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

  11. My comment is awaiting moderation because I tried to post the link but if anyone is interested sportsnet and a few other sites have posted the full list of 66 x-draft exempt players (hank, staal, G, nash)

    1. I saw that. And on Blueshirt Banter, they went step further. As the roster is currently constructed, the Rangers would have to expose two of the following forwards–


      No chance Kreider, Miller or Hayes are exposed. Grabner is a virtual certainty to be exposed. So that means either Zuc or Stepan. Which one would Gorton expose?

        1. Exactly. So you’re Gorton. Who do you expose in addition to Grabs? Zuc or Stepan? Sadly, the answer is likely Zuc.

          1. Trade watch: Stepan can be traded before July 1 as his NTC contract kicks in then. My “trade” has been Stepan for Spurgeon. Minny covets Stepan and has a big need there and the cap hits are within reasonable range.

  12. How about one of em at least ? Crosby goal he has the post covered , wheres he going reading a white shirt sitting there , Kessel just a usual High Glove spanking … yeah first one they worked for and last one was a bounce ….. Happy Tanksgiving

  13. Some of the comments above are way over the top (especially regarding Hank). How many bad games has this team played this year? These things happen now and again just look at Montreal getting humped 10-0 in Columbus, there’s no need to panic or overreact. Hope you’re all enjoying your celebrations.

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