Lineup Changes

Rangers opening night lineup appears to include Brendan Smith at forward

The Rangers are 24 hours away from opening the season, and the opening night lineup has been the primary discussion point on social media. As the lineup takes shape, we are looking at these projected lines:

Artemi Panarin-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich
Chris Kreider-Ryan Strome-Kaapo Kakko
Vlad Namestnikov-Brett Howden-Jesper Fast
Brendan Lemieux-Lias Andersson-Brendan Smith

Brady Skjei-Jacob Trouba
Marc Staal-Tony DeAngelo
Libor Hajek-Adam Fox

PP1: Panarin-Zibanejad-Buchnevich-Kreider-Trouba
PP2: Kakko-Strome-Lemieux-DeAngelo-Fox

PK1: Zibanejad-Andersson-Trouba-Skjei
PK2: TBD – Staal was rotating in for Skjei, in practice a few times.

Greg McKegg and Micheal Haley are the healthy scratches.

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  1. Our 3rd and 4th forward lines will strike fear into most junior teams, but not so much at the NHL level. Look for our first 2 lines to play big minutes.

  2. Why does Howden get to pay with better linemates than Lias? Why does Howden get a pass for his bad preseason? All other young forwards with underwhelming preseasons were sent to Hartford. I don’t get it.

    1. Relax – its game one. I don’t know what you mean by “better” line mates – but Howden plays 3rd line and Lias made the team (applause) – DQ said in the press conference that he would like stability in the center spot – but that can change though the season, so if Lias excels, he would move up the flag pole.

      1. By all objective measures Fast and Namestnikov are better forwards than Lemieux and Smith (a converted defenseman). Not sure there’s much to debate there.

        The point is simple, Lias has earned the better role with a better preseason (not to mention his better play last season as well where Howden demonstrated he was one of the worst players in the NHL).

        Why not put the best combinations on the ice to begin the season rather than having to adjust them later?

        1. Lemieux scored at a P60 top 6 rate and Smith started as a forward, so there’s that.

        2. 4th lines are more defensive and checking resources than scoring lines. Anderson is better at both defense and checking than Howden.

    2. The jury is still out on Howden this year. He may soon be on a bus to Hartford. As he does not have a special teams role as Lias does, he won’t get enough playing time on fourth line to justify keeping him in NY. So it’s either third line or AHL. DQ is giving him a shot on third line, but if he is not up to it, he’ll soon be demoted.

  3. Howden must have the same evidence Tanner Glass had.

    Chytil won’t sleep tonight.

  4. Why not just put Fast on the 4th line in place of Smith, and have Kravs play 3rd line RW?

  5. I would have liked to see Lias on the 3rd line instead of Howden, but perhaps the 3rd and 4th lines are going to play similar minutes. I just thought that Lias seemed to play well with Namestnikov.

    I like Smith on the 4th line, he actually seems to do well as a 4th line winger for as long as he is with the club. Between him and Lemieux there will be some sandpaper on that line.

    Altogether, I am very much looking foward to the start of the season. So much time between games during the first couple of weeks is going to frustrate me!

  6. With all the good the Rangers have done getting better players, this forward line up is laughable.

    1. It is a bit of a go slow approach, I grant you. I don’t think this line up is going to last long.

      1. I don’t think so either Peter.

        Or let me rephrase, it better not be for long.

        How is Smith even in the opening night line up, no less even the roster?

        1. DQ is concerned about 2 RD on the power play. He is either intending to use Smith in that role – or wants Smith in reserve in case Fox or ADA can’t cut it.

  7. As much as I want to hate it I get it. Two rookies on D gives you options where smith can spell a few shifts. It’s one game and if smith does well he could be a serviceable F/D for another team via trade (retaining 50%). I bet you he does well. He has everything to lose, and it’s not like he’s Tanner Glass. Plus it’s one game, it will not be permanent with Chytil and Kravtsov waiting for the call up.

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