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Duclair a healthy scratch; Hayes to center one of the top lines

Bobby Bevilacqua

New York Rangers vs Chicago Blackhawks preseason Hockey

Anthony Duclair will be a healthy scratch tonight as the Rangers will face off against the big-bodied San Jose Sharks.

When the Rangers get on the ice to take on the Sharks to finish off their four game homestand, Anthony Duclair will not be on the ice with them for the first time this season.

Duclair is a healthy scratch for the game, and Vigneault claimed that it is not because of his play. Duclair had 3 assists with a plus-four rating in the 5 games that he has played with New York.

Vigneault has named a few reasons for Duclair being scratched. Duclair has played five games in eight nights, something that is new for the rookie coming from junior hockey. Vigneault also said that when Duclair is playing, he wants him to be in the top-nine. And against the Sharks, Vigneault would like the size that Malone, Glass, and Hayes bring, especially after seeing John Scott’s hit on Islanders’ forward Mikhail Grabovski on Thursday.

Although AV has said that it is not because of his play, it is still concerning to see Duclair scratched despite his play, and one must be wondering if he will remain with the club after Stepan returns. Also, Carl Hagelin has really struggled so far, and Duclair has definitely played better than him. Vigneault is likely keeping Hagelin in because of his experience and his great performance in last year’s playoffs.

Chris Mueller, recently recalled from Hartford, will be making his Rangers debut tonight. Mueller will center the fourth line with Glass and Malone.

Vigneault likes what Mueller brings because he is a natural centerman, can take faceoffs, and can play as a right handed shot on the power play.

With Duclair out and St. Louis back on the wing, Vigneault changed up the lineups in practice yesterday.

One of the most noticeable changes was the Rangers’ top line. The top line will be a highly skilled, and big, line that will be interesting to watch. Rookie Kevin Hayes will be centering Rick Nash and Chris Kreider. Hayes has previously played with Kreider at Boston College is his sophomore season, where the team won the National Championship.

Kevin Hayes 10-14

After playing well in the last three games, Kevin Hayes will center a top line with Chris Kreider and Rick Nash on the wings, giving Hayes his best chance yet to succeed.

This says a lot about what management and the coaching staff thinks about Hayes. Hayes, who has not registered a point, has looked very good the last couple of games, and is a big puck possession player who seems to rarely give it up. This will be good for the line he is on now, where he will be able to skate with Nash and Kreider, two great goal scorers. Hayes has a great chance to register his first NHL point tonight.

Brassard and Zuccarello will be reunited once again, where Brassard will be centering Zukes and St. Louis. After playing the center role for the first five games, St. Louis moves over to the right win position, his natural slot.

St. Louis played well at the center role, picking up 4 assists, but only has 6 shots. Putting him back on the wing will hopefully allow him to focus more on scoring, and shooting more.

Brassard has scored in three straight games, with his most recent one being the tying goal in the third period against the Hurricanes. Zuccarello picked up an assist on the play.

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Six

Brassard and Zuccarello will be line mates once again, with Martin St. Louis filling in the right wing slot.

The Rangers will face a dangerous San Jose Sharks team, who has not yet lost in regulation. San Jose has a high powered offense, led by Joe Pavelski (4 goals, 3 assists), Brent Burns (1 goal, 6 assists), and “Jumbo” Joe Thornton (1 goal, 5 assists).

Today’s game marks the Sharks third game in 4 days, and the second game of a back to back, after they beat the New Jersey Devils last night, 4-2.

This is the first of two meeting between the teams, and they will face off again in California in January.

Lundqvist will most likely be the netminder for the Blueshirts today, looking to follow up on his performance against Carolina, where he allowed 1 goal on 30 shots and did not allow any goals in the shootout.

These are the expected lines for tonight.

Kreider-Hayes-Nash

Zuccarello-Brassard-St.Louis

Hagelin-DMoore-Stempniak

Malone-Mueller-Glass

McDonagh-Girardi

Staal-Hunwick

JMoore-Klein

Lundqvist.

MSG Panorama

The Rangers will look to finish their homestand on a positive note and win their second straight game at home against the Sharks.

I will be at the game tonight in section 227 wearing my Derick Brassard Heritage jersey, so feel free to stop by and say hello!

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Posted on October 19, 2014, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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