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Rangers Practice Report: Vigneault blows up his lines and defensive pairings

Bobby Bevilacqua

alain vigneault 10-10

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The tinker man Alain Vigneault has made some massive changes prior to the Rangers matchup against the New Jersey Devils this Sunday.

After not scoring a goal for over five consecutive periods, AV decided that a change was needed. He’s right to move some pieces around and try to create some chemistry.

Here were the lines during today’s practice.

Forwards

Rick Nash-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derick Brassard-Jesper Fast

JT Miller-Kevin Hayes-Oscar Lindberg

Jarret Stoll-Dominic Moore-Viktor Stalberg-Tanner Glass

Spare: Emerson Etem

There are some massive changes made here. Every single line has a change to it as the Rangers look to create a spark on offense.

On the top line, the Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello combination has been broken up. Derek Stepan reassumes his number one center role on the team, looking to help Rick Nash finally break into the goal column. Stepan is an excellent two way player, and he’ll take some of the defensive pressure off of Rick Nash.

After spending two games in the press box, Jesper Fast is now a top six forward again. We all saw what he can do offensively in the playoffs. He was superb alongside Chris Kreider and Stepan. His speed will complement the line nicely, and his defensive prowess also takes pressure off of his linemates. Derick Brassard and Chris Kreider have been slightly disappointing through five games, so it’ll be interesting to see how they play together.

Kevin Hayes is back at center, as Vigneault is likely looking to get him more involved and more creative. He’ll have full control of the flow of play, and he’s paired with Oscar Lindberg, the team’s leading goal scorer as well as JT Miller. Hayes and Miller played well together last season.

Jarret Stoll makes his return to the lineup. He’s played pretty well with Moore, so this isn’t a problem at all. However, if Tanner Glass plays over Viktor Stalberg, I’ll probably rip my hair out. Stalberg has been an excellent forechecker, great defensively, and his speed and physicality creates scoring chances and problems for the opposition. He cannot be taken out of the lineup.

Defense

Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Klein

Keith Yandle-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Spare: Dylan McIlrath

It’s about time that Vigneault broke up the McDonagh-Girardi pairing. Dan Girardi has been okay, but he doesn’t seem to pair all that well with McDonagh as of late. Kevin Klein is a better skater and solid defensively. Ryan McDonagh has had a rough start to the season, so hopefully a new partner helps jumpstart his game.

It’s also about darn time that Keith Yandle gets more minutes. The fact that he’s been playing 15 to 18 minutes a game on average is mind-blowing. The Rangers need to have his puck moving ability on the ice more frequently, and pairing him with Girardi is interesting. I’m excited to see Yandle get more ice time, and I’m intrigued to see how this pairing works.

Vigneault confirmed that Henrik Lundqvist will start in net against the Devils, his sixth straight start of the season. That means that Antti Raanta will likely make his Rangers debut on Monday against the surging San Jose Sharks.

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Posted on October 17, 2015, in Rangers Updates and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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