Rangers look to rebound against the Wild; AV considers center shuffle again
After a loss in which New York was overwhelmed by Montreal, Vigneault and the Rangers (4-4-0) will change things up in order to create more offense tonight against the Wild (4-2-0) in the first game of a four game home stand. Vigneault also may shift the wing positions for tonight’s home-ice match as well.
After struggling in Montreal, especially in the faceoff circle, rookie Kevin Hayes may wind up being a healthy scratch for tonight. Hayes was demoted to the fourth line towards the end of the game after beginning the night with Chris Kreider and Rick Nash.
Vigneault has not finalized the lines, but during this afternoon’s press conference, he did say, “at this moment, yes,” about Malone being inserted back into the lineup, but added, “we’ll see tonight.”
With Kevin Hayes potentially scratched, that would mean that Martin St. Louis may shift back over to center, which Vigneault said that, “it’s something that we might look at.”
During the morning skate, Ryan Malone was back in the lineup, and played on one of the power play units, something that has struggled for New York this year (2-22).
One of the power play units had Rick Nash, Chris Mueller, and Martin St. Louis up front with Lee Stempniak and Dan Girardi manning the points. The next unit had Derick Brassard centering Mats Zuccarello and Ryan Malone, with Ryan McDonagh and John Moore paired together.
What’s interesting about the lines is the absence of Chris Kreider, who has been on the power play for the Rangers so far. Vigneault pointed out that Kreider turned the puck over 4 times while they were up a man.
To make things even tougher, the Wild have only allowed 1 power play goal in 19 shorthanded opportunities.
Mats Zuccarello is one of the Rangers’ players who is off to a slow start, and is looking to turn his game around tonight. Zuccarello has just 1 assist and no goals in the Rangers’ 8 games this season, despite having some prime scoring opportunities.
This is not unlike his struggle to begin last season, where he had just two goals in the first 19 games to begin the 2013-2014 season.
Most of the scoring has come from Rick Nash, who has scored 8 of the Rangers’ 21 goals this season. Martin St. Louis has only scored once, and the defense has also chipped in with only one – Kevin Klein’s overtime winner against the Devils.
Vigneault has said previously that he is not concerned with that, and is sure that it will balance out over time.
Anthony Duclair looks as if he will remain in the lineup against Minnesota, after putting up a good performance against Montreal, assisting on Carl Hagelin’s goal.
Henrik Lundqvist was the first goalie off of the ice this morning, which likely indicates that he will start tonight, which does not come as a surprise.
None of the changes or lineup swaps are finalized, as Vigneault has been experimenting with the lines during practice and is still trying to discover where he believes that people fit in.
The Minnesota Wild are coming off of a dominating 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on home ice, with goals coming from 6 different skaters.
Minnesota’s number one netminder, Darcy Kuemper, has been stellar this season, with three shutouts under his belt already. Kuemper is 4-1-0 this season, with a .81 GAA and a .966 save percentage.
The Wild have only allowed 6 goals in 6 games this season, while scoring 19, bringing the goal differential to plus-13.
In order to come away with a win, New York will need to do a few things differently.
The Rangers are looking for more consistent defensive play, especially from their top 3 defenseman in Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal.
At times the Rangers’ defense has been very good, and on other nights they have struggled a lot. New Yorks’ top six d-men have to solidify their play and make smart decisions in front of Lundqvist, as well as contributing on offense more as well.
You can’t win without scoring goals. The Rangers will need to find a way to do this against a strong Wild goalie and defense, who have already shut out three of their opponents so far.
While it is never a bad thing to have Rick Nash scoring goals, the Rangers are certainly looking for contribution from the other 11 forwards. People like Mats Zuccarello and Martin St. Louis, as well as others, need to start getting the puck on net more and find ways to score more often.
New York will have a tough challenge against a Wild team with a strong penalty kill, but the Rangers’ power play will certainly need to do more. They have only scored on the power play against the Devils, and have struggled on a lot of their opportunities.
These are my expected lines for tonight’s game against the Wild (Not Confirmed);
Posted on October 27, 2014, in Game Previews and tagged Anthony Duclair, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Chris Mueller, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Henrik Lundqvist, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, King Henrik, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Hunwick, Michael Kostka, Minnesota Wild, MSG, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, NHL, NHL 2014-2015 Season, NY Rangers, NYR, overtime winner, Rangers Nation, Rangers Season Opener, Rangerstown, Rick Nash, Ryan Malone, Ryan McDonagh, The Duke, The Ranger Zone. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.