Ryan McDonagh returned to practice today saying he feels better than expected and should be "go to go"for tomorrow's game vs. Tampa.
In other positive injury news, Andrew Gross at the Bergen Record reports that Rick Nash and Michael Del Zotto, who both practiced for the second straight day, are improving and waiting on how they feel tomorrow before announcing that they're ready to play.
John Tortorella told Katie Strang at ESPN.com that he doesn't know who he's getting back in the lineup tomorrow, but if I had to venture guess, he'd say Nash and MacDonagh return.
...best report from practice in weeks! If Rangers can build off their strong third period last night, coupled with the return of Nash and McD, I'd feel really good about them ending their four game losing streak tomorrow.
In other line-up news, the Rangers assigned Brandon Mashinter to the CT Whale today.
...tear. After last night's performance, this is no surprise. I couldn't have been more disappointed in Mashinter's lack of toughness with the Rangers. He played very timid which was uncharacteristic of the way he played down with the Whale. Hope this isn't the last we see from them.
Arron Asham (back spasms) was the only player not to participate in today's optional practice. Here are the lines courtesy of Gross...
Carl Hagelin-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan/Rick Nash
Taylor Pyatt-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik
Darroll Powe-Brian Boyle-J.T. Miller
Chris Kreider-Jeff Halpern
...if Nash is healthy, here are the lines I'd love to see...
...never going to happen, but I can dream.
2 thoughts #1 - I know you and many others have come down hard on Kreider but until he sees more than a handful of shifts a game and until he's separated from a line that includes Boyle, I won't pass judgement on his game. #2 - Halpern's been solid but is getting a lot more credit than is warranted. Granted, he's not expected to score but his stats aren't that different from Boyle's and we know what a horror its been watching Boyle. I don't know the answer to our center situation other than a trade
I would think for now you Leave Step,Hags and Calli together,been playing well.Put Nash with Gabs and Richie,and hope it gets them going.Sather should look to get us a tough,fighter type player that can play top 6-9 minutes w/o hurting the team.I know it wont be cheap or easy but it is needed against some teams.Our talent is just going to keep getting run.I think Gabby would really benefit having some protection out there.It would also create more space for him.I don't see us going far in the playoffs w/o a player of that caliber.
Lines I think would make this team click, and get the players going on each line respectively...
Nash Stepan Hagelin (has been our best line all year when healthy)
Gaborik Richards Callahan (If callahan cant get these guys going I give up)
Pyatt Halpern Miller ( I would love to put Kreider here, but he doesnt deserve it and Pyatt played one of his best games as a ranger the other night)
Powe Boyle Kreider (Knowing this line wont see much ice time putting the worst players here... to bad Powe is stuck, but he will get PK time for us)
Here are the lines I would love to see...
A good example of a much more talented hockey team being physically dominated in a series....The 1995 Red Wings against the Devils. Devils were supposed to have no shot in that series. The Devils physically went to town against the Red Wings. They swept them four straight...but the series was really won in Game Two.....
Need to have an enforcer somewhere in that line-up. A team like Boston or Toronto would physically destroy us. Could you imagine a playoff series with that line-up against Toronto? Half the team would be hospitalized after Game 1..lol
@TheNYRBlog Thank God we can stop hearing about Cally. From todays stories one wud think he's consistently that good. #NOT
I know you liked that Cally and the Kids line a while back. I'd say:
Pyatt is good for doing the dirty work for Richards and Gaborik. The 4th line would cycle the puck for 35 seconds and not shoot, so you'd need to get Staal and Stralman out with them. Only D-men that can put the puck on net with consistency.
I like those lines. Those are four lines Torts can roll. Really liked Halpern with the kids.
It'd be great if Callahan could help getting Richards and Gaborik going -- that sounds so horrible to say, but that's the fix we're in.
I like your lines but miller could play center and I would replace richards with miller on that second line. my lines would look like this:
I have been so dissappointed with so many rangers this season. I think boyle needs a confidence boost so I would put him on the power play and tell him to stand in front of the net and screen for 2 straight minutes. DO NOT MOVE. If you get pushed, you are 6'7" 250 pounds..don't move.
My Ideal PP...boyle stuck in front of the goalie, 2 guys on the point, other guys getting the puck to the point. Fire from the point, boyle to screen, other forwards crash for the loose puck. rinse and repeat.
@slapshot13j Pyatt on the third line instead of Kreider does make sense, especially based off the way they have both been playing as of late. I think they'll send Kreider down once Asham is back. He needs more time playing big minutes in the AHL.
@McPhee21 Stevens was a beast. Wonder how many of those hits would have been considered head shots in today's game though.
@jtf1218 -- That second line looks like the quiet type. All three of those guys have been underachieving. I like Callahan on the second line to hopefully give Richie and Gaby a spark, and he does at least as much "dirty work" as Pyatt.
Meanwhile, Halpern has played well and has gelled nicely with the kids.I like him on the third line because we can trust him for some good minutes.
Boyle is a solid center, especially for his faceoff wins. I like him centering the fourth line. With Pyatt and Powe on his wings they could wear down some teams and give our guys a rest.
That line-up would take an absolute beating against physical teams.
Boyle in front of the net on a PP has been tried several times. The guy just has no balance and ends up on his keister. Problem isn't who is or isn't in front, it's that point shots are either so weak (Staal, Strahl), don't get through (Gerardi, Gilroy) or miss the net entirely (MDZ).
Randy Carlyle....my kind of coach....
Leafs Beat: Randy Carlyle likes his players to use their fists
Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle Turning Toronto into Bigger, Tougher and More Competitive Team
@nyrangers22 who hasn't been productive with Nash? Richards has to create on his own, we have other guys who can rely on Nash that should not be able to or struggle to create on their own.... And are not making 12 million dollars this year...
That Stevens hit was clean...but devastating. The Red Wings got knocked silly in that series. Devils took liberties with Red Wings "talent"....if I remember correctly...I believe Yzerman got boarded and bloodied during that series.
Good point about Halpern, however it shakes out the kids need an experienced, responsible veteran on their line. Things seemed to be working best when Nash, Gaborik, and Callahan all played RW though, and I thought Miller has played better at C than on the wing. I don't really mind juggling among the bottom 3 lines, as long as Hagelin-Stepan-Nash get reunited.
@McPhee21 -- that is up to the players. On this team, the lines have little bearing on whether we take a beating. It depends on what game they bring. Each of these lines are tough enough. It's up to them. Admittedly, there are no fighters in this line up -- Boyle or Pyatt if need be, but it's not their strong suit. I wonder if Asham might be ready for Phili.
@slapshot13j Thats a very good point, I would like to see these lines until Richards is able to get his confidence back and than you can switch Nash up with Cally. We all know Torts will never stick with the same lines for a long period of time anyway.
nothing made me happier than the way Stevens left the game - with scrambled eggs upsatirs for years to come. No one deserved that fate more than him for how he 'cleanly' hit defenseless players
@McPhee21 @boogiepicker -- it doesn't take players labeled "tough guys" or whatever, it takes players playing tough. That's one of the big challenges in this game. No matter what, you have to be tough as you can be, and probably tougher.
@jtf1218 -- good point about the right wing; it's always best to have everybody in their natural position. As for Miller, I just don't think he plays center better than any of the other centers (except, arguably, Richards at the moment, but it won't last) and, even if he's a better center than wing (he probably is), he plays well on the wing.
As for -- "I don't really mind juggling among the bottom 3 lines, as long as Hagelin-Stepan-Nash get reunited" -- I'm with you 100% there, especially since that's likely to happen anyway.
ok...just making sure :) Never want to be called a Devil fan...I miss the days when they were a "mickey mouse club"
@McPhee21 --- maybe you deleted the comment, it showed up in my e-mail ... anyway, yes, i am absolutely joking, just giving you the business there
Not in love with Toronto...I'm in love with the style they play....there's a big difference. I've been rooting for the Rangers since 1976. And it seems all that time that the Rangers have been a team that has REACTED to physical play. I have always wanted the Rangers to be the aggressors....to be the team that people feared playing. A team that was known for their nasty, physical play......
Ahhh...maybe some day. :)
you seem to be in love with Toronto right now Mr McPhee. Let's see where they are when the season's over and how that strategy pans out...
@McPhee21 -- yeah, i know you're right ... especially talking about what message a team sends. we've already sent the wrong message, so we'll need Asham and then some to right the ship.
As for grinders, we have a bunch of 'em if they'll do the job -- Pyatt, Boyle, Powe, Callahan, Miller, and sometimes Stepan. Grinding used to be this teams identity. It's difficult to see bringing in another grinder. These guys have to take it upon themselves. Pyatt and Powe should (and this is a big should) be able to bring a good bit of the grind we lost with Dubi and Prust (if not the fighting ability).
That said, I'm all for calling up Haley some time.
But our guys have to start playing like they mean it. I think we'll see more of that tonight.
This why I like what Toronto. They have pretty much told the league, we are going to crush your players through the boards...all game long. And if you don't like it, we will punch you in the mouth. They are imposing their will against teams. They act instead of reacting. And they are winning.
The Ranger are in a bad way right now. Not playing physical, and they are terrible on the PP. To a team like Toronto...it's swimming with sharks with an open cut on your leg. They are going to come after you.
Nash has taken several big hits this year...and has missed time because of it. A team like Toronto will hit him at every opportunity. It doesn't have to be cheap shots, just big hit after big hit. It wears a player down. You want to try to avoid your skilled players getting hit like that constantly.
Yes, this is the team we have. But it can be tweaked. I would love to have Haley and Asham on the fourth line.
And I wouldnt be surprised to see the Rangers make a deal or two at the deadline. Acquire a big, physical grinder...or two....
Has Chrissy Kreider been sent down yet.That guy is soft as the day is long. Someone activate the Kreider gettin' sent down watch. :)
@McPhee21 -- i'm with you 1000% though, that our team needs to get tougher, i just don't believe it has to be other personnel. it's THIS TEAM that needs to be tougher. Nash can actually handle himself pretty well. these are big, strong guys, why should the be intimidated? these guys need to get their heads out of their asses is all. they got hurt because they were playing too soft. these guys can do this.
-- toughness isn't their specialty, that's for sure - especially in the last few games - but, again, if they're game and they keep moving their feet, they'll be fine. the deterrent then becomes the opponent taking penalties and giving up chances by trying to run us "at will."
hockey is a rough game, you have to be up for it, you can't be intimidated. you don't even need a legit fighter on your team to win, but we'll have Asham back, and Bickel is serviceable (not sure why he hasn't had a fight in the past few).
being game is the most important thing, and this team has not been of late. being game is the way physical teams beat skill teams and vice versa. how do you get that edge? it's definitely not a simple matter of having the biggest, toughest guys, and it's not even a matter of having the top skill guys - because either can be beat by the other if they grab the momentum ... by being game.
if you come to play, you keep your head up and skate hard for the full 60, and you don't get intimidated, you have a good shot at winning -- in fact, that's how our Captain gets over, he's not the biggest, toughest guy, and he's not the most skilled, but he's game, he won't be intimidated, he'll stick up for himself and he'll keep moving his feet.
except for maybe Hagelin, Richards, and Gaborik, these guys are tough enough if they follow Cally's example and show up.
in any case, those are the guys we have. if you don't believe in them, i say, buck up little camper.
Not really Slap. Take a look at Toronto...very physical team...and they have 4-5 guys who can drop the gloves and do it well...Boston...Flyers...etc.
Now, come playoff time...you don't have to load the line-up with tough guys/fighters....but you better have that enforcer/intimidator dressed. Asham is a tough guy...not an intimidator. He's more of a middle weight.
My ideal line-up would have one top intimidator and one good middleweight.
We've already lost Nash and McDonagh because of hits....this teams needs to get tougher....or we will have more players being injured.
I disagree with you on the toughness aspect of the lines. I don't look at any of those line being tough at all. A big, physical team would run at us...at will. No deterrent to stop them from doing so....
Look at the 1994 Rangers squad.......Joey Kocur was an intimidator...a deterrent. I think he dressed in at least twenty of those post season games.......
Add in Graves and Kypreos as well....and Beukeboom and Wells on defense....the team was well protected.