In Toronto when a young player is struggling, the coach will demote him, sit him out as a scratch or send him to the minors. Much ink and pixels are spilled over this questionable decision.
In New York when a young player is struggling, Glen Sather trades him out of town and replaces him with a big-name contract. Somebody who was a perennial awards candidate years ago. Some of the worst deals in NHL history—Bobby Holik, Chris Drury, Brad Richards—have been signed with Gather at the helm. His reward for winning the Rick Nash derby this summer was that midway through the season, he had to add some depth to his roster, and managed that by trading Marian Gaborik to Columbus.
It’s been a long time since the Leafs played the Rangers. It was the sixth game of the season and the Leafs lost 5-2. Gaborik scored twice and the new-look first line by the Rangers, with Nash, Gaborik and Brad Richards, looked fantastic. That line is split up, now.
The Leafs are a different team since then, and that’s a good thing, since the Leafs got crunched 22-10 in scoring chances against the Rangers. Mikhail Grabovski and Nik Kulemin are no longer playing the tough minutes, but they’re still getting buried in the offensive zone. Nazem Kadri is getting more minutes and the defence has changed over the course of the season several times despite not a whole lot of injuries. It’s clear the Leafs are still trying things. The Rangers decided the core of their roster wasn’t good enough and made huge changes.
Puck Drop: 7:00 PM EDT
|Corsi Tied %||51.2% (12th)||45.9% (24th)|
|5v5 GF/GA Ratio||1.11 (9th)||1.09 (10th)|
|Team Shot %||6.47%||10.55%|
|Team Save %||0.937||0.925|
|PP Success||17.2% (19th)||17.9% (15th)|
|5v4 GF/60||5.16 (20th)||6.13 (15th)|
|5v4 SF/60||45.4 (19th)||45.4 (20th)|
|PK Success||82.4% (12th)||86.7% (4th)|
|4v5 GF/60||6.94 (20th)||4.75 (4th)|
|4v5 SF/60||48.6 (19th)||40.9 (5th)|
|Starts||Quality Starts||Quality Start %||EV SV %|
It may seem like the Rangers have a pretty hefty advantage at even strength. They were playing well before the deadline but not getting results. Nobody on that team could shoot the puck in, evidently, so either some of the most talented players in the world forgot how to shoot or they were getting unlucky. Hmm…
Rangers lines last game, via Left Wing Lock:
Rick Nash – Derek Stepan – Ryan Callahan
Ryane Clowe – Brad Richards – Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin – Derick Brassard – Brian Boyle
Taylor Pyatt – Darroll Powe – Arron Asham
Anton Stralman – Ryan McDonagh
Michael Del Zotto – Dan Girardi
John Moore – Steve Eminger
John Tortorella plays the same kind of shell game as Randy Carlyle for starting lineups, so I’m only really sure it will be the workhorse Lundqvist in net tonight. The usage chart can’t show us much anymore because the top nine has two new faces in the last week and everything’s bounced around, but it does show us that generally, Torts’ offensive guys have gone against toughs this season.
Carl Hagelin on the wing there is a beast. One of the surprising things about the Nash trade was that it ensured he’d be taken off Richards and Gaborik’s wing.
Girardi and McDonagh traditionally take on the toughs but it appears last game they were split up. That’s a fairly recent development.
As for the Leafs, according to Paul Hendrick it appears Ryan O’Byrne is IN tonight meaning Jake Gardiner will come out of the lineup. If that’s the only change, it’s a pretty silly one. Justin wrote a good post about the absurdity of expecting Gardiner’s defence to improve while maintaining his offence. Before you jump on him for saying he’s obviously never played the game, Justin has played the game, likely at a much higher level than you.
Big game. Not a must-win. No game is, unless the season is legitimately on the line.