Well, it sure didn’t take Alain Vigneault long to sour on number one pick Filip Chytil. Having only played the talented 18-year old center less than 13 total minutes in two games, the stubborn coach will healthy scratch the kid for tonight’s home match against the Canadiens.
Vigneault has decided to dress 11 forwards and seven defensemen. So, you can forget about having four balanced lines. He’ll mix and match by shifting J.T. Miller back to center. He was used there in the third period of last night’s 8-5 loss at Toronto.
With the D struggling, Nick Holden gets into his first game. How he’ll be used I have no idea. Both Tony DeAngelo and Brendan Smith struggled mightily Saturday. Each were victimized badly on a couple of goals.
What is the plan regarding the top four? New assistant Lindy Ruff tried Marc Staal with Ryan McDonagh and had Brady Skjei teamed with Kevin Shattenkirk by the second period. Both pairings were successful.
Holden is better suited for a offensive role due to his skating and shot. Staal and Smith must be in defensive roles with the latter needing a dramatic improvement to justify his three-year contract. DeAngelo has the big shot and should continue to see power play time.
As for the lines, figure Mika Zibanejad to stay together with Pavel Buchnevich. Does Chris Kreider stay put or work with Miller? We’ll see. Kevin Hayes now will center the second line. He could theoretically still play with Michael Grabner but with Miller at center, that combo won’t be together.
Who does Rick Nash and Jimmy Vesey play with? Vesey should be higher than the fourth line. He should receive more shifts. Similar to yesterday once Vigneault sat Chytil, who did nothing wrong in nine shifts (4:59). Nothing this coach does makes sense.
After getting chased for five goals in the first period, Henrik Lundqvist gets his third start. It’s a chance to redeem himself. He faces Carey Price who had his own bad start with the red hot Alex Ovechkin sniping four goals in a 6-1 drubbing.
So, it pits two star goalies against each other who both have something to prove.
Montreal also is making two changes. Mark Streit and Ales Hemsky come out. Brandon Davidson and Torrey Mitchell come in.
I’ll bet newest Hab Jonathan Drouin can’t wait to face our defense. He should have a field day. Alex Galchenyuk and Max Pacioretty are also keys to the Montreal offense along with pest Brendan Gallagher. No more Alex Radulov. He’s in Dallas. But Drouin should be a tough assignment.
It goes without saying that this is a game the Rangers should win. They need it. Whether or not they’re up to the task remains to be seen.
Shattenkirk and Mika Zibanejad have led an improved power play so far with them combining for four power play goals. That’s what ShattDeuces gives you.
This is the third game in four nights. Full review later.