Lineup Changes

Thoughts on Jesper Fast on the first line and the rest of the lineup changes

Another lineup change for the Rangers

After the Rangers no-showed the first two periods over the weekend, then looked somewhat decent in the third against a team on the second of back-to-backs while shelling to protect a lead, David Quinn showcased some new lines:

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s discuss.

1. Jesper Fast on the first line is fine since he’s the only forward who has been a bright spot for the Rangers this season. He leads all forwards in xGF%, and he’s overall just been steady. No one should be surprised by this, Fast has been doing the little things for years. He’s not the most skilled forward, but if it spreads out the offense to beyond the top line and powerplay, then works for me.

2. Brett Howden gets another shot at the 2C role, which shouldn’t really surprise anyone. It’s clear Ryan Strome isn’t cut out for that role, and it’s clear that Quinn wants Howden to get the next shot. Maybe he’s just keeping the spot warm for Filip Chytil. Howden hasn’t been good in this role –or any role– when given the opportunity, but I honestly have no problem with seeing if he can handle it. I may be in the minority here, but let the kid see what he can do…

3. Given that if he doesn’t hold his own, that Lias Andersson gets the shot next. I, for the life of me, can’t figure out what he needs to do to get off the 4C spot. It seems everyone else who earns it gets a promotion except Andersson. I was given the argument that maybe it’s because this is where the organization sees him, or he’s been so good in that role that Quinn doesn’t want to move him up.

3a. To the first argument, he’s 20 years old and was a 7th overall pick. You have an obligation as an organization to at least see what he can do. You may be right – he may be a 4th line center. But to make that judgment now when saddling him with AHLers at best is irresponsible and downright dangerous for future development of prospects.

3b. If it’s the latter, then picture this. You’re at your job doing very well. Better than all your colleagues. A promotion opens up. Your boss calls you in and says, “You’re doing so well in this role that we don’t want to give you the promotion because we like you here.” Imagine hearing that. You’d immediately begin looking for a new job, right? Same concept applies here.

4. I have a very simple solution that would make the Rangers better. Scratch Marc Staal, give Brendan Smith his 2LD or 3LD minutes. Smith has been surprisingly solid in his LW role, and he’s never been an albatross on defense. Just simply not worth his contract. When Staal has been one of the main reasons the Rangers look so bad (see below), then it’s the only choice.

5. Which brings me to accountability. The entire team has been playing poorly, which is fine. But let’s rewind to when Kevin Shattenkirk was a healthy scratch because he was playing poorly. It was applauded, few had a problem with it. But Staal –and a ton of other people– has been atrocious and he’s never seen the press box. Something something defensive defenseman. How are we the only ones who see this?

6. The Rangers toyed with someone like this before – JT Miller. He then found himself as part of a change of scenery trade in the Ryan McDonagh trade. Now it’s way too early to say that Lias is going to turn out like Miller, but it’s one of those lessons you should learn. For some reason, only some kids need to play their way into a role, while others are given the role until they show they can’t handle it. I’m a fan of the latter, but Andersson has shown he earns to be off the fourth line. Or at least to play with actual NHL talent.

7. Remember that this is a rebuild, and when kids are playing well they should be rewarded, the same way that if they are not playing well they should be taught what went wrong. It’s a two-way street, but as Justin wrote yesterday, clearly Quinn has his favorites. I’m not on the anti-Quinn boat yet, like a lot of other people, but I’m growing weary of lack of consistency and questionable lineup decisions. I’m going to give it the full second year to see what the lineup looks like and how the kids take the next step.

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  • Alls I have to say, that there better be a plan that we are not seeing.

    Because a lot of this defies what supposed “hockey experts” would, sorry, should do.

    And Lias has been very good too, but he gets stuck with 2 beer league players so his good play does not show up in the boxscore. How Haley is even on this team is disturbing.

    • These guys were experts before the salary cap era and before the game shifted to a transition game. Are they still experts now? Or are they old guys who refuse to retire with antiquated thoughts on the game?

  • Buch is a frustrating player. Fast does whatever the coach asks and can play with an edge. Buch has a much higher upside but also a much lower downside.

    Before we all bemoan this, let’s give it a few games.

    Still would rather see Chytil and Kraftsov up here.

  • “Howden hasn’t been good in this role –or any role– when given the opportunity, but I honestly have no problem with seeing if he can handle it”.

    Here is the problem as I see it. Your 3a, and 3b points are spot on, what does the Andersson kid have to do to get an honest to goodness shot at playing a more important role?

    “Staal –and a ton of other people– has been atrocious and he’s never seen the press box”. The guy must be blackmailing someone in the organization, he just smells awful!!!!!!

    Now to Fast, who is a versatile player who won’t score much, but plays an honest 200 foot game. This could be what the line needs at this time to show the others how to back check, and play some defense. It appears that everyone wants Fast on their line, he just goes like the EverReady Bunny, you have to love his heart. If everyone on this team played the game like Jasper, we would win constantly.

    The defense needs Staal in the press box, Smith on the third pair, and you’ll see improvements immediately!

  • Walt, the issue with Staal, quite simply, is that management loves him. Loves him as a person, which carries over to the deployment side.

    It’s wrong, totally wrong. Lindgren can play the position much better and Lindgren can actually CLEAR THE CREASE, another thing that Marc cannot do.

    Look, we all feel bad that Marc got injured and had some personal issues to sort out, which derailed a very promising career. But his $5.7M per will ease the pain of benching him. It’s business, nothing personal.

  • Any person likes to have the feeling that they know what (for the most part) will happen at work today. Sure there are anomalies, but your experience allows you to deal with those changes in stride. So it must be for the Ranger players. None of them are above the rest when it comes to doing so much so that they are on a pedestal – none are.

    That said, they need to change their actions to better their quality. True of the forwards and true of the defense. While the Fast move seems nonsensical, it is another change in the revolving door that is the Ranger lineup. We need to play better as a team.

    Let’s stop crying over these changes. DQ is the coach and it is his job to change things that do not work. If anything, he needs MORE changes. Roster changes, defensive alignment changes and defensive scheme changes. DQ is the right coach for this team now, maybe not next year. Calling all of you armchair GMs and coaches – Let it go.

  • The team finally started tho play with some presence in that last 3rd period. I really thought they were going to talk more about that than they have. They did everything but tie the game up…and they dominated. I’m not anti-DQ yet. But the fact he never seems to have them ready to play from the start bothers me. They never really come flying out of the gates, never throw the first big hit, and never start the first scrum around the other crease. They start each game waiting for something to happen, good or bad, before they figure out what they want to do. Last year, they had a habit of giving up early goals from this. This year, they just do not dictate the play at all.

    I’m way more concerned about Kakko’s ice-time than Lias’. I must’ve missed all this “earning” that Andersson has done, cause I’m not seeing it. Maybe it’s buried in some small sample size stat? He has not stood out to me though. Neither has Howden either though. But I have been surprised that I feel like I barely see Kakko out there. Issa he getting more ice-time than Lias because it doesn’t feel like it.

    The whole team looks lost and unsure… aside from Hank, Zib, and Bread.

  • My problem with Fast on the first line is that he is not a finisher. As much as I love him as a player, I think you need to have someone that’s going to bury the Panarin / Zib feeds. Why I would like to see Buch or Kakko on that line.

    What do you think of having Pan / Zib on different lines as a way to disperse some of the talent we have throughout the lineup?

    • Fast may not be a true finisher, but he’s one of only a handful of forwards that gives 100% on the forecheck. I like him there… his effort will help keep the puck in the offensive zone and allow more time for Panarin and Zib to do their thing.

  • You can play with the lineup all you want but we’re lacking a legit 2nd line center … and that’s not changing until Chytil shows up ready to play.

    Resign Fast fast … he’s the perfect veteran example of how to play, just lacks the offensive flair to produce more box score points.

    • People are overlooking the importance o f a second line center….. Ultra-important……we have none…. until Chytil returns……..and hopefully he can blossom into the number two center slot…..

    • Some Ranger fans are overlooking the importance of a second line center….. Ultra-important……we have none…. until Chytil returns……..and hopefully he can blossom into the number two center slot…..

  • Well adding DQ to my get rid of list.

    Rebuild will continue once you

    Trade Hank
    Trade Staal
    Fire Quinn

    In the meantime, Quinn is not ready for NHL coaching

    I’d rather play the kids and lose games than play older players and lose games.

  • I am happy Tanner Fast is playing well! When your 4th line player is your best player, there is a problem. When your 4th line player is playing on the first line, there is a problem.
    The team is being utilized in the best way. Keep going DQ.

  • It is rather obvious that Jesper is on the first line as a message from the coach regarding how he wants the game played. Fast is not a finisher on the wing so the long term viability of the move isn’t there–so there is no need to fret.

    I do fret regarding how Quinn relates to his players. Why is it so hard for him to get the forwards other than Fast to play 200 foot games? Why is it that the defensemen are hung out to dry repeatedly by the three other skaters on the ice? There isn’t much forechecking or backchecking going on a great deal of the time. To be hard to play against you need to actually be hard to play against, not just aspire to it. The true test of Quinn’s work as a coach is how his team performs at least as far as effort and adherence to a cognizable system. I don’t see an aggressive and consistent system in place. It should be discernable even with a young group, but it is not. They play ‘hard’, but they don’t seem to be well coached because they do not seem to know what to do much of the time.

    Now, it is early in the season. The team has not played many games. They did, however, have a lot of time to install a system. We will see if they play as more of a cohesive unit as time goes on. It is possible I am being hasty and overly critical. I guess it is because I’d like them to look more cohesive on the ice even if they lose. Perhaps they will soon.

    • Man, I would give it a year. It is still the first month of the season and everyone is bugging out. A re-construct and trades and firings, oh my etc. LOL – hell, wtf? Chill. This team will “get it” and it’ll take weeks, not days – simply because they’re not a veteran team. Were already told by media and GM (in not so many words) not to expect a playoff, but know what, this team can do it. I’m as excited to see them play today as I was in the first game, cuz I know they will get better and better – and they will. Give it a chance, y’all. Go NYR!

      • Hey Carlos good to see you around.
        I agree that it is early. I guess I thought that the team might be more systematic and disciplined in its play after Quinn had been here for a year and a second training camp. I am not arguing for trades or firings. I just have found Quinn’s demeanor to be a bit odd when interviewed lately and also have found his frequent line changes curious. Seems to be hard to develop chemistry when things change day to day.
        However, you are right, it is still early in the year and wholesale firings and major shakeups don’t make sense.

        • Peter

          “Seems to be hard to develop chemistry when things change day to day”.
          I couldn’t agree with you more Peter, with the entire post, but more importantly the quote above. The other day I posted he is starting to remind me of AV, and now others are picking up on the “AV syndrome” being put on display from shift to shift………

    • 100% on Fast being on the 1st line.
      As stated they need to play games to get their timing going. They are steps behind more often than not.
      Give it till December before cliff-gazing.

  • there was a time when JT Miller, by many, was dubbed “untouchable” along with Hayes when they were on a hot streak with Kreider on that second line. remember that? not so long ago. he may have been toyed with but at least got the chance to play with top-6 caliber players. now i’m not saying that Lias is JT, but gosh it seems like everyone outside of the front office agrees, why not at least try him out in game conditions? you already traded the only other legitimate 2C option on the team (Namestnikov); is Lias going to be so much weaker on the second line again than Howden or Strome?

  • Sorry to beat a dead horse, but if you want to know why Lias is buried on the 4th line, here’s the Coyotes depth chart at center:

    Stepan: 6’
    Dvorak: 6’2”
    Soderberg: 6’3”
    Richardson: 6’

    This will happen most nights unless Andersson has a late growth spurt or goes on a therapeutic HGH schedule.

    He just gives up too much size most nights, not enough skill to make up for it.

    • Is that a joke – c’mon man – Lias weighs more than any of them! Derek and Christain and Brad are only at 6 foot and with Derek that’s generous. Anways, his size is DEF not the reason he is buried at #4…you can argue other stuff, but not his size, bro..

      • So you’re going to have him go H2H with Step? No

        You’re going to match him up against guys giving up 5-6”? Only if you’re setting him up to fail.

        So using the last change to shelter him against Richardson is your plan of action if y’know, *trying to minimize bad matchups and promote good ones* helps lead you to winning.

        You’re trying to develop whike winning.

        I guess I need to stay away more often, because stating the relatively obvious is become a point of diminishing returns.

  • Regarding #4 … since management loves Staal, I have a better solution. Put Smith back at LD and put Staal on the 4th line wing. #SARCASM. But I would sign up for that in a minute!

  • WHAT!

    Didn’t we see Fast’s performance go down last season when he was put in a position on the top lines?

    I don’t like this!

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