Rangers Shake Up Lineup for Rivalry Matchup Against Islanders
After a rough loss in the home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Rangers, still looking to establish chemistry with a lot of new players, will have a much different looking lineup as they take on the Islanders at 7 PM.
On Sunday, Matt Hunwick was on the third defensive pair with John Moore. Kevin Hayes made his Rangers debut and centered the third line. Mats Zuccarello was scratched due to a sore shoulder, and JT Miller played on the fourth line on the right wing.
When that didn’t work, Vigneault decided to change up the lines to try and experiment with new lines that may work well together.
After a rough couple of games, JT Miler is a healthy scratch tonight. After being held pointless in 3 games with a -4 rating, Miller will sit for the first time this season. Miller has struggled both offensively and defensively this season, and looked a little slow reacting to the puck. Vigneault will stick with Kevin Hayes as his third line center.
Mats Zuccarello is back into the lineup after resting his sore shoulder, which he injured in Columbus. However, Zuccarello will not be skating on the second line with Brassard. After that line had poor puck possession and limited sustained offense in the first two games, Zuccarello will skate with Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin on the third line.
Ryan Malone, the Rangers’ late offseason signing, will make his debut for the Blueshirts tonight, after Vigneault had said he didn’t know where Malone fit into the lineup. Malone, who scored 2 goals with an assist, as well as scoring in the shootout to win a preseason game for the Rangers, played well in the two preseason games he participated in.
Malone will be able to add size and strength (6-foot-4, 219 lbs) up front for New York, as well as some skill, especially on the power play.
“I think (playing on the power play) is one of my strengths – kind of being around the net,” Malone said after the morning skate. “It’s a good opportunity, so I want to go out there and do my job well.”
The Rangers are currently 0-8 on the power play this season, and Malone hopes to improve that tonight.
Malone is a strong net-front presence, and after a solid preseason, will get his chance to prove to Vigneault that he belongs in the lineup.
Malone will skate on the left wing with Dominic Moore and Tanner Glass.
Michael Kostka will also make his Rangers debut tonight, and will replace Matt Hunwick, who is also a healthy scratch.
Vigneault said that Kostka is not in because of Hunwick’s play, but he said that “other guys are getting the benefit of the doubt right now.”
After the Stall-Klein defensive pairing was not all that special, AV will keep Klein on the third pairing with John Moore, who he was with practically his entire time with the Rangers last season. Kostka will be paired with Marc Staal on the second pairing.
Kostka was recalled from Hartford after the first game of the season as a replacement for Dan Boyle on the roster.
Henrik Lundqvist will be in net again tonight, after a subpar performance in which he allowed 6 goals on 24 shots. Look for the extremely competitive Lundqvist to put on a better performance tonight, where he will look to improve on his performance last game.
Lundqvist is 29-12-5 in his career against the Islanders, posting a 2.07 GAA and a .924 save percentage. Those 29 victories are the second most he has compiled against any other team, falling just shy of the 30 victories he has against the Devils.
Tonight’s game marks the first of 5 meeting between the Rangers and Islanders, and will play them twice in January, and one time each in the months of January, February, and March.
The Islanders are off to a good start, winning their first two games, both against the Hurricanes, and scored a total of 9 goals in both games, with 4 of those coming on the power play.
Center Brock Nelson is off to a blazing start, scoring 3 goals with 3 assists in two games. New acquisition Johnny Boychuck, a defenseman acquired in a trade with the Bruins, has 5 points for far, with 1 goal and 4 assists. John Tavares is now healthy and also has 1 goal and 4 assists on the year.
Jaroslav Halak will be in net for the Islanders tonight. Signed as a free agent this offseason to improve their goaltending, which has struggled in past seasons, Halak made 21 saves on 24 shots in the Isles’ season opener against the Hurricanes.
In order to win tonight, New York’s defense will have to be a lot better than they were on Sunday. The defense struggled at some points against Toronto and gave up 2 power play goals after not giving up any in their first two contests.
The defense will need to do a much better job in front of Henrik tonight, and make sure they clear the crease, get rid of rebounds, and block shots and passes much more effectively than they did in their last game.
Henrik also needs to be much sharper, like he was against St. Louis in the season opener. Lundqvist, who is ultra-competitive by nature, does not like to have back to back bad games, so he will be doing all he can to help New York grab their second win of the season.
The Rangers also need to see production from all four lines, something that was critical to their success last season. It’s fantastic that Rick Nash is scoring like he is, with 4 goals and 5 points in 3 games, and he needs to continue his hot play, but the Blueshirts need to get more contributions from their second and third line as well.
Winning key face offs in the offensive zone and their own defensive zone will be important, which is something they have struggled with so far.
These are the expected lineups for tonight’s game, which starts at 7PM.
Healthy Scratches; Matt Hunwick, JT Miller, Jesper Fast
Duclair continues to get top line minutes, and will be looking for his first career goal tonight at the Garden
Having Stempniak and Kreider on the line with Brassard may help get Brassard producing more, as both are good goal scorers and like to shoot the puck. Brassard scored his first goal of the season Sunday.
Rangers look to get back on track with a win against the Islanders in their second game at the Garden this season.
Posted on October 14, 2014, in Game Previews and tagged Anthony Duclair, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Dan Girardi, Derick Brassard, Henrik Lundqvist, Home Opener, Kevin Hayes, King Henrik, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Michael Kostka, MSG, New York Rangers, NHL, NHL 2014-2015 Season, NY Rangers, NYR, NYR Season Opener, Rangers Season Opener, Rangersnation, Rangerstown, Rick Nash, Ryan Malone, Ryan McDonagh, St. Louis Blues, The Duke, The Ranger Zone. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.