Game Thread

Game 64: Libor Hajek’s debut

The centerpiece of the Ryan McDonagh trade, Libor Hajek will make his Rangers and NHL debut tonight against Montreal. Hajek’s recall was very surprising, since he has struggled mightily in Hartford and is not even the best defenseman there. However the Pack are atrocious and it’s a terrible environment, so it’s not the best barometer to use when measuring how Hajek has looked. That’s not to say he will be great, but he may just need a change of coach.

As for the game itself, the Canadiens are in the playoff hunt, but are treading water while those below them in the standings continue to win. The Rangers have another opportunity to play spoiler here, and given how they have played lately, that is a realistic possibility. The Blueshirts have no quit in them. It’s refreshing.

Habs Lines

Tomas Tatar-Phillip Danault-Brendan Gallagher
Jonathan Drouin-Max Domi-Andrew Shaw
Paul Byron-Jesperi Kotkaniemi-Joel Armia
Arturri Lehkonen-Nate Thompson-Dale Weise

Jordie Benn-Shea Weber
Victor Mete-Jeff Petry
Brett Kulak-Christian Folin

PP1: Tatar-Domi-Armia-Shaw-Weber
PP2: Drouin-Kotkaniemi-Gallagher-Danault-Petry

Carey Price gets the start.

Rangers Lines 

Chris KreiderMika ZibanejadJimmy Vesey
Brendan Lemieux–Lias Andersson-Pavel Buchnevich
Vlad Namestnikov–Ryan StromeJesper Fast
Brendan SmithBoo Nieves–Connor Brickley

Brady Skjei–Kevin Shattenkirk
Marc StaalTony DeAngelo
Libor Hajek-Neal Pionk

PP1: Zibanejad-Kreider-Vesey-Pionk-Shattenkirk
PP2: Strome-Fast-Namestnikov-

Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.

Scratches/Injuries: Brett Howden (knee), Filip Chytil (healthy), Fredrik Claesson (healthy)

Crazy Prediction: Hajek scores in his first game.

Game time is 7pm.

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  • You said the same thing about Lemieux in his first game (with the Rangers). One of these days you’ll get that type of prediction right if you keep on making it. 😉

  • For me, the refreshing lack of quit you mention is the key. We’ve battled some of the league’s elite teams, Tampa and Wash in last two, Winnipeg recently; because of the talent difference, we’re usually exposed at some point during the 60 minutes, but the battle level is there. Excited to see Hajek and Lemieux in person tonight.

    • … but what everyone is conveniently forgetting is that battle level was there ever since Torts came on board and slowly but surely disappeared from our game under the tutelage of the smiling gum chewing Monsieur Vigneault. Torts did the same thing that DQ is doing (DQ is of course nicer … and taller), establish a clear identity of a team willing to go to war, only 8 years earlier.

        • I knew there would be a problem with AV when nobody complained about the testing done in camp — Torts made sure the team was in TOP condition, we literally won games with less talent because of our conditioning. We need to get that back.

  • We had like 9-10 shots for the period , Names had 8 of em … lol

  • Libor Hajek played a decent game for his NHL debut. I’m hoping that a change of scenery will serve the kid well!!!!!!

    • I watched Hajek every time he was on the ice, and was very impressed. He handled puck with poise, took a couple of hits to make the right play, did a good job defending the rush. Only one game, but was similar to what some of us saw in him pre-season, makes you wonder about Hartford.

      And got a goal from Lemieux!

      • Right? That’s exactly how Hajek looked in the pre-season, exact same type of “game”. There was some talk (I don’t know if it was just some BS) that in the last month Hajek’s game had improved and that he deserved the call-up … might have been some spin, but he looked totally competent tonight under pressure.

        We controlled the first 25 minutes, Habs controlled the next 30, we controlled the last 5 — Hank played well, Price played better, we lose … but again the effort was there so no complaints.

      • jaialai

        Like I said in a previous post, when I saw him in Hershey, he looked good then. I can’t understand why the management hasn’t figured this problem out with the coaching for the Pack!!!!!

    • There was some video that Adam Herman was using to bury him and the 1st thing I pointed out was that his D partner was lazy getting out of the zone so Hajek didn’t have a D2D pass option that led to a turnover and goal.

      Those plays don’t happen in the NHL.

  • Their high Price-d goalie played a little better then ours !

    • He did. But Hank was victimized on a couple of wonky bounces in the 2nd, a period in which he made several good stops. He should have stopped the 3rd goal…

      • The 2nd shot off the end boards that our star goalie flogged on should of been controled. Lundqvist is becoming a liability in net.

      • We need no points at this point ? , just wanna see them compete. Not like the AV / Renney days where they forgot to show up a lot of nights! So what happens to Chytil when Howden is healthy ( soon ) ? He’s really gonna ride the pine. Smith needs to stay on the 4th line wing ( seems a better spot then D for him ). Bring up Lindgren , keep Hajek here and sit Staal and Shitty.

  • Hajek did play well and Lindgren was pretty good too, if I have to pick it’s Lindgren was better. Lemieux is gonna become a fan favorite and has chemistry with Lias. I would would put Strome on there to see what we got there. Possible it could be one of our lines next year. I really want us to tank to get Cozens. He’ll be such a fit in DQ’s system

    Brendan Smith is pretty good as a forward, he had a heck of a game

    • Agree Tony – since camp I thought he would’ve been a good fit, so glad to see this young man with the parent team – apparently it was a huge blessing for him, too.

      • The Rangers were too busy “showing” off their D men for trade, so Libor did not have a spot.

        Not for nothing, why is Claesson scratched?

        • Hartford is a voodoo and I’m happy that the kid is playing with the big team…This kid has some potential as Lindgren…get rid of the pylons …. Smith..Staal…….and let these two kids play and learn as they rebuild under the watchful eye of Quinn.

          • If w loose them to Hartford , how much are we eating in salary?

          • The pylons will eventually be removed and once removed this team will start to flourish….the kids are slowly going to take this team over..that is a fact my friend

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