Rangers Practice Report; Vigneault changing up the lines
Following a tough loss to the Islanders on Tuesday, Alain Vigneault decided to juggle the lines at today’s practice ahead of the Rangers (27-14-4) battle at home against the Montreal Canadiens.
Kevin Hayes’ struggles continue as he continues to develop into an NHL center, and the third line did not get many quality chances last night. Carl Hagelin did score the lone Ranger goal, but it came on the power play when Dominic Moore was the centering.
Dominic Moore is quietly having a solid season for a fourth liner, posting 13 points (3-10-13) in all 45 of the Rangers games this year. This is quite impressive, considering he has never had consistent linemates, apart from Tanner Glass, who has just one point, an assist, in 32 games this season.
During the Rangers practice today, Vigneault shuffled the bottom six forwards, with JT Miller skating as an extra. The top two lines remained the same, with the top line being Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello, complemented by a second line of Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Martin St. Louis.
The first lineup change was promoting Dominic Moore to the third line center role, with Carl Hagelin and Lee Stempniak on the wings. Kevin Hayes was centering the fourth line alongside Tanner Glass and Jesper Fast. Moore and Hagelin are partners on the penalty kill, and have seen some time together at even strength during the last two games, but have not started together.
“I put them together last night in the third because I thought both of them were playing at a good pace and making some good plays,” said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault when discussing Dominic Moore and Carl Hagelin. “They’re used to playing together on the kill, they communicate real well with each other.”
Carl Hagelin scored the only Rangers goal last night, a power play tally with just 8.2 seconds left in the game. Hagelin has three points (2-1-3) in the last two games, and a total of 19 points (10-9-19) while mostly playing alongside Kevin Hayes.
Despite having just one point this season, Tanner Glass remained in the lineup over JT Miller, receiving praise from his head coach in the process.
“I think these have been three of his better games,” Vigneault said about Glass. “I thought he’s come in, tracked well, finished his hits when he’s had the opportunity. When he was on the ice, the opposition knew that he was there.”
Vigneault has not committed to the lineup, but did say that Henrik Lundqvist would start in net on Thursday against the Canadiens, yet another important matchup against an Eastern Conference power house.
While lack of production from the bottom six has certainly been hard to come by, many players on the top two lines have picked up the slack, such as Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, and Martin St. Louis.
Mats Zuccarello has been playing on the top line, but has hit yet another slump, scoring just one goal in his past 17 games. While he does have nine assists in that span, the lack of goals in concerning.
Some of it has been bad luck, with “Zukes” hitting the post on numerous occasions prior to the All Star break, but it is also due to a pass first mentality that so many Rangers players seem to have. There were a few instances last night where he passed up on an opportunity to shoot in favor of trying to find a teammate. Zuccarello has an above-average shot, and will need to start finding the back of the net more often to help the Rangers have another scoring outlet.
In other news, John Moore skated alongside Kevin Klein during practice, and it looks like he will make his return to the lineup on Thursday.
Posted on January 28, 2015, in Rangers Updates and tagged Alain Vigneault, Cam Talbot, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, Henrik Lundqvist, Islanders, Jesper Fast, John Moore, John Tavares, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, King Henrik, Lee Stempniak, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Hunwick, MSG, MSL, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, NHL, NHL 2014-2015 Season, NHL All Star Game, NY Rangers, NYR, Rangers, Rangers Nation, Rangerstown, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Tanner Glass, The Ranger Zone. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.