Rangers Practice Report; Skjei earns high praise and AV shuffles up the whole lineup
The Rangers practiced in New York yesterday ahead of their first extended road trip, beginning with a trip through Canada to play the Flames, Oilers and Canucks before heading back to the states to take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Alain Vigneault and his team have played 10 of their first 14 games at Madison Square Garden, with four brief one game road trips in between the homestands. The Rangers have been a good home team in recent years, with their 74 wins being tied for second in the NHL.
“It’s a good challenge for us,” Henrik Lundqvist told reporters on Thursday. “We haven’t traveled much. We’ve played a lot of home games, which has been a good test. Now, I think it’s going to be a good test to go out on the road here and face some desperate teams.”
With a lot of new players this year the Rangers still will be working on their chemistry for a little bit. And while we have seen that the Rangers are shaping up to be a high-octane, high scoring team, they still need to find their true identity.
“For our group, get together and get away. We’ve got four good games. we’re still in the phase here of finding out about our group,” Vigneault said. “There’s no better way than going on the road and being together and preparing and trying to win games.”
The Rangers had won five straight games before their loss to the Canucks on Tuesday. That was Vancouver’s first win in ten games, and New York only had 26 shots on goal. Even when the Rangers were scoring five goals a game as of late, the team wasn’t playing as well as earlier in the year and were riding a high shooting percentage.
However, it wouldn’t be smart to panic now because it has only been 14 games. A team will never play well in all 82 games, and that’s fine. What we’ve seen from the Rangers is enough to have a good amount of confidence in this team to do well this season and maybe even in the playoffs.
During practice, Alain Vigneault changed up the entire lineup in an attempt to get some of the guys who have been playing very well, like Pavel Buchnevich, higher in the lineup, and also to balance out the scoring again. He also switched up the defensive pairings. Here’s the lineup from practice;
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
Pavel Buchnevich-Mika Zibanejad-Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey-Kevin Hayes-JT Miller
Michael Grabner-Brandon Pirri-Jesper Fast
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Brady Skjei
Nick Holden-Kevin Klein
I really like how these lines look. The top line has two of the Rangers most dangerous players in Rick Nash and Chris Kreider, with the steady presence of Derek Stepan between them. Kreider and Stepan have cooled down a bit and need to get going again, so Nash might be able to help there.
The second line really excites me. Mika Zibanejad scored against Vancouver to end his scoring drought, and Pavel Buchnevich had a three point night, with a goal in his third straight game as well as two assists. Zibanejad has shown that when he is on his game, he might be the best player on the ice for either team. Buchnevich is settling into the pace of the NHL and he has played extremely well as of late. Add Mats Zuccarello, aka the offensive wizard, on that line and you have a lot of promise.
Jimmy Vesey was struggling a bit lately, so he gets partnered with the best performers as of late. Hayes and Miller are at the top of their game, and can get Vesey going again. And Michael Grabner goes back to the fourth line, which balances out the lines and gives the fourth line a better defensive presence while still keeping the offensive potential of it.
For defense, Nick Holden goes back to his natural left side with Kevin Klein, and Brady Skjei gets bumped up with Marc Staal. Skjei is playing his off side, but did it very well in the playoffs when Dan Girardi was injured. I’m very comfortable and confident that he will do well, because his play as of late has been absolutely fantastic.
“I just wanted to get a look,” Vigneault said of Skjei on the right side. “I do want him to practice there, get a little bit more comfortable. I really like his progression and his skating and puck abilities.”
The Rangers play Calgary at 10 p.m. tomorrow night in Calgary.
All quotes from Matt Calamia and the New York Rangers.
Posted on November 11, 2016, in Rangers Updates and tagged Alain Vigneault, Brady Skjei, Henrik Lundqvist, Jimmy Vesey, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers, New York Rangers blog, NHL, NYR, NYR blog, Pavel Buchnevich, Rangers, Rangers blog, Rangers lines, Rangers lineup, Rangers schedule, Rangers vs Flames, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.