At 1-5-1 Alain Vigneault is scrambling for answers and attempted some bold line combinations last game, and will hold steady with those same lines again tonight as the Rangers play the only slightly better-off New York Islanders at MSG.
The Rangers may have come out of their last game with a point, but the outlook is not much better with only one win on their record through the first two weeks of the season. If there was any team for the Blueshirts to get the season back on track with it would be the New York Islanders and they’ll be hosting them tonight at MSG.
Vigneault’s changes to the lineup against the Penguins did seem to work out to an extent with Desharnais and Tony DeAngelo stepping up and playing well. The coach has expressed a surprising and perhaps concerning optimism yesterday as his club prepared for tonight’s match.
“I look at the things we’re working on and we’re taking huge steps in the right direction in all facets of our game. … It’s just a matter of time until we put it all together.” – A.V. during Rangers practice yesterday
Vigneault may have confidence but if his team isn’t able to take huge steps in the right direction where it counts — the standings — Rangers’ fans will continue to chastise him for this team’s shortcomings.
Player to watch
Ryan McDonagh’s turnover in overtime yesterday handed the Penguins the ‘W’ and his play has been skittish to start the season. The Rangers captain may have had some moments of the traditional defensive prowess he’s exhibited time and time again, but there have been far too many times he has had his own defensive breakdowns.
McDonagh will need to shutdown the Islanders’ star John Tavares and support his star goaltender to give his team a chance tonight.
Jordan Eberle was the star acquisition of the off-season for the Islanders and is playing wing on the top line with Tavares. Eberle has led the Islanders in shots this season, but has not yet finished on one his chances with zero goals and only three assists thus far.
Eberle is certainly a capable forward having put up 76 points in 78 games back in 2012 and with Islanders’ coach Doug Weight putting an extra emphasis on the powerplay tonight he’ll be one of the players to watch.
Rangers Projected Lines
Nash – Zibanejad – Zuccarello
Krieder – Desharnais – Miller
Vesey – Hayes – Fast
Grabner – Cracknell – Buchnevich
McDonagh – DeAngelo
Staal – Shattenkirk
Skjei – Smith