Everything Else

 vs. 

RECORDS: Rangers 9-7-2  Hawks 8-8-2

PUCK DROP: 7pm

TV: NBCSN, because it’s Rivalry Night donchaknow?

WAITING FOR THE 3 TRAIN: Blue Shirt Banter

It’s an Original Six tilt on the Westside tonight, not that anyone really cares about that much anymore. Then again, not too many are going to care about two middling teams that both sit outside of the admittedly embryonic playoff picture at the moment. And the Rangers had to tear ass just to get here. We seem to say this every night now, but there should be a whiff of desperation to this one, as these teams don’t really have the option of passing on points right now.

And the Rangers have played like that of late, winning six in a row. This is probably not the time to be catching them. They started off terribly, and a good portion of that was put on Henrik Lundqvist’s shoulders. And with good cause. Before the winning streak, his SV% was below .900. He’s picked it up of late, but he’s had some help.

The biggest aid for him has been the newly formed top line of Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich, with Buchnevich shooting about 879% during the streak and piling up three goals and five points in his last five games. The second line with Alleged Weiner Tucker-Captain Stairwell-The Hobbit has also lit it up, and Nash in particular is on fire. He’s got four goals and six points during this streak.

But this being the Rangers, the problems are the same as they’ve been for years. They don’t have a real #1 center, or maybe any centers at all. They’re a team filled with fast, small wingers you’d probably confuse in a lineup, save Nash. There’s a nifty fourth line here with Michael Grabner pouring in the goals again, and at least Alain Vigneault is fine with making his fourth line fast and skilled as he can.

Also, the problem of who to play with Ryan McDonagh is still lingering. AV is reluctant to put Kirk ShattenKevin there, so right now it’s Nick Holden and that’s not going well at all. Steven Kampfer took a turn and that went worse. Brendan Smith is in the pressbox for $4 million a year, which brings enough light into my dark little life to be excited about waking up in the morning. ShattenKevin and Brady Skjei are playing together, which pairs their two puck-movers at the same time. But when you’ve won six in a row, you’re not changing much.

For the Hawks, not too much change. Ryan Hartman looks to be drawing back in at center on the 4th line, and while that seems weird if he comes out with a wild hair on his ass because of a healthy scratch everyone will be happy. Top Cat will continue to have his time wasted with Patrick Sharp and Tommy Wingels and on the wrong side. At least until the Hawks need a goal and he’s vaulted into the top six. So the second period.

The pairings could look like anything, though after giving up a touchdown and PAT it’s unlikely Q will dress seven d-men again. Look for Kempny to continue to sit for no reason other than REASONS. Crow gets the start.

The Rangers are a team that can play awfully fast when on song. That used to be a good thing for the Hawks. It probably isn’t anymore. But this defense isn’t very quick other than Skjei and ShattenKevin either, so they could trade chances all night. In theory, the Hawks should have more finish. But that’s hardly a sure thing.

 

Game #19 Preview

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups

Everything Else

 vs. 

RECORDS: Rangers 9-7-2  Hawks 8-8-2

PUCK DROP: 7pm

TV: NBCSN, because it’s Rivalry Night donchaknow?

WAITING FOR THE 3 TRAIN: Blue Shirt Banter

It’s an Original Six tilt on the Westside tonight, not that anyone really cares about that much anymore. Then again, not too many are going to care about two middling teams that both sit outside of the admittedly embryonic playoff picture at the moment. And the Rangers had to tear ass just to get here. We seem to say this every night now, but there should be a whiff of desperation to this one, as these teams don’t really have the option of passing on points right now.

And the Rangers have played like that of late, winning six in a row. This is probably not the time to be catching them. They started off terribly, and a good portion of that was put on Henrik Lundqvist’s shoulders. And with good cause. Before the winning streak, his SV% was below .900. He’s picked it up of late, but he’s had some help.

The biggest aid for him has been the newly formed top line of Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich, with Buchnevich shooting about 879% during the streak and piling up three goals and five points in his last five games. The second line with Alleged Weiner Tucker-Captain Stairwell-The Hobbit has also lit it up, and Nash in particular is on fire. He’s got four goals and six points during this streak.

But this being the Rangers, the problems are the same as they’ve been for years. They don’t have a real #1 center, or maybe any centers at all. They’re a team filled with fast, small wingers you’d probably confuse in a lineup, save Nash. There’s a nifty fourth line here with Michael Grabner pouring in the goals again, and at least Alain Vigneault is fine with making his fourth line fast and skilled as he can.

Also, the problem of who to play with Ryan McDonagh is still lingering. AV is reluctant to put Kirk ShattenKevin there, so right now it’s Nick Holden and that’s not going well at all. Steven Kampfer took a turn and that went worse. Brendan Smith is in the pressbox for $4 million a year, which brings enough light into my dark little life to be excited about waking up in the morning. ShattenKevin and Brady Skjei are playing together, which pairs their two puck-movers at the same time. But when you’ve won six in a row, you’re not changing much.

For the Hawks, not too much change. Ryan Hartman looks to be drawing back in at center on the 4th line, and while that seems weird if he comes out with a wild hair on his ass because of a healthy scratch everyone will be happy. Top Cat will continue to have his time wasted with Patrick Sharp and Tommy Wingels and on the wrong side. At least until the Hawks need a goal and he’s vaulted into the top six. So the second period.

The pairings could look like anything, though after giving up a touchdown and PAT it’s unlikely Q will dress seven d-men again. Look for Kempny to continue to sit for no reason other than REASONS. Crow gets the start.

The Rangers are a team that can play awfully fast when on song. That used to be a good thing for the Hawks. It probably isn’t anymore. But this defense isn’t very quick other than Skjei and ShattenKevin either, so they could trade chances all night. In theory, the Hawks should have more finish. But that’s hardly a sure thing.

 

Game #19 Preview

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups

Everything Else

Beth Boyle Machlan is a contributor at BlueShirtBanter.com. You can follow her on Twitter @BethMachlan.

The Rangers had an awful start to the season, but have now won six in a row. What’s been the change?

The change? Moving Pavel Buchnevich from the 4th line to the 1st, for one. Alain Vigneault’s distrust of the young Russian has been inexplicable from the start, and culminated in benching him for Tanner Glass in last year’s playoffs. Since moving to the 1st line, Buchnevich has been on fire, and has already outscored his previous season. Also, the power play, which has been a black hole for the Rangers for years, has come to life with the combination of Kevin Shattenkirk, Mika Zibanejad, and the aforementioned BUCH. And Rick Nash, who I still consider the Unluckiest Man in Hockey for how often he shoots/makes things happen vs. how often he scores, has finally heated up as well.

Is Henrik Lundqvist done?
Lundqvist isn’t done. Lundqvist is 35 and has faced more high-danger shots than any other tender in the NHL. He’s been shot full of holes for three seasons now, and I’m guessing his knees and body reflect that. But he’s always been a slow starter, and he’s come on as fierce as ever in the last six games, and that save percentage is creeping up.
Mika Zibanejad is averaging a point-per-game after a somewhat disappointing debut season on Broadway last year. We see the three shots per game, what’s been the difference in his game so far?
Alain Vigneault likes to tinker with his lines, and I think Zibanejad’s game suffered last year as a result. (The broken leg didn’t help.) This year, he’s healthy and he’s playing with monsters, Buchnevich and Kreider, (KZB) who had a crazy chemistry even in 2016 preseason, but then never played together again. He’s been a beast on the power play, on a PP1 team that right now looks like it could score blindfolded.
Kevin Shattenkirk was the big offseason signing. How has he settled in?
Shattenkirk had a great start, then fell off a bit as AV played with his pairings (and defensive deployment continues to be the NYR’s Achilles heel — don’t get me started). But he seems to have found his groove, turned the PP around, and is playing his game regardless of who he’s paired with. He generates offense like crazy; NYR zone exits used to be embarrassing, but I find myself not even thinking about that anymore, especially when 22 is out there. But the dream pair of Shatty and McDonagh is history already, and he’s with Nick Holden. Ask AV.
The Rangers pulled themselves out of their initial hole, but some of their analytics are still not very impressive and this is a weird roster. Where are they headed this year?
Where are they headed? Three weeks ago, I would have said the basement. But if Lundqvist holds up, the Cup. You heard me. Because No Cup for Lundqvist is a world I refuse to live in. (We’re going to get Beth the help she needs. Don’t worry. -ED)
Everything Else

Hawk Wrestler vs. chris-rongey1

FACEOFF: 7pm Central

TV/RADIO: NBCSN, SPORTSNET UP THERE, WGN RADIO 720

MY BLUE HEAVEN: Blue Shirt Banter, The Hockey Rodent

After a satisfying win last night, the Hawks get about five minutes to enjoy it before they focus on the task at hand tonight. Because the New York Rangers on Broadway are going to require the A-game if the Hawks want to continue collecting points that they’re going to need.

Everything Else

Hawk Wrestler vs. chris-rongey1

FACEOFF: 7pm Central

TV/RADIO: NBCSN, SPORTSNET UP THERE, WGN RADIO 720

MY BLUE HEAVEN: Blue Shirt Banter, The Hockey Rodent

After a satisfying win last night, the Hawks get about five minutes to enjoy it before they focus on the task at hand tonight. Because the New York Rangers on Broadway are going to require the A-game if the Hawks want to continue collecting points that they’re going to need.