Rangers line notes

Rangers notes for tonight against Buffalo, including lines and news.Head coach Ron Low shuffled his forward lines again yesterday at practice, in search of the right combinations. Two interesting moves to look for tonight … the line of Mark Messier, Radek Dvorak and Manny Malhotra, which ended the season together last year, was back together. As a unit, the three combined for 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) down the stretch in 2000-01. In another move, Low shifted Petr Nedved back to center, adding Zdeno Ciger and Michal Grosek to his wings. The other two line combinations: Theoren Fleury, Eric Lindros, Andreas Johansson and Barrett Heisten, Mike York, Sandy McCarthy. Defenseman Darren Van Impe cleared waivers yesterday and was assigned to Hartford .

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Rangers Shake Up Lines

After Friday nights debacle in Carolina when none of the Rangers first three lines played well, Head Coach Ron Low has decided to make some changes.

First Line: Swiss League “star” Andreas Johansson will join Eric Lindros and Theo Fleury on the first line.

Thoughts: Lindros looked confused on Friday in Carolina. Throughout his career Lindros has played with at least one power forward (LeClair) on his line, but with the Rangers not having anyone that resembles this type of winger, Lindros is being forced to play a perimeter game with smallish, skilled wingers. This leaves the oft-concunssed Lindros as the only player big enough to retrieve the puck when it goes into the corners. Until Glen Sather or Ron Low find someone who plays a grinding, down-low style to play on Lindros’ wing, he will struggle. He will get points because of his high skill level, but not enough to keep impatient Rangers fans happy.

Second line: Manny Malhotra, one of the teams best forwards on Friday, will regain the position he earned at the end of last year on Mark Messier’s wing. Radek Dvorak remains Messier’s other winger.

Thoughts: This is the unit that played so well at the end of last year, combining Malhotra’s forchecking, Dvorak’s speed and Messier playmaking ability. Malhotra will use his speed and size to forcheck and create space for Messier and Dvorak. While Malhotra won’t get you thirty goals, he will play hard and protect his teammates; two things the Rangers STILL desperately need.

Czech Line, Part II: Nedved moves back to center with fellow Czech wingers Zdeno Ciger and Michal Grosek.
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Thoughts: Although Nedved played wing in Pittsburgh and had one of his best seasons there, he has not looked comfortable there so far. Moving back to center gives the Rangers four effective lines which should allow everyone to stay fresh. Ciger and Grosek offer a more physical presence than Nedved’s previous Czech linemates (Hlavac and Dvorak) which should create space for Nedved to move around. This line should do well off the rush and should cycle the puck well.

Fourth line: The team’s hardest working player, Mike York, is now relegated to fourth line duty on a team that seldom uses their fourth line. Sandy McCarthy and Barret Heisten will be his wingers.

Thoughts: If Ron Low does what he’s supposed to and actually gives this line a chance to play a regular shift they should operate as a fairly successful checking line. Heisten did extremely well in Carolina on Friday playing the kind of in-your-face game that should remind Ranger fans of a younger Adam Graves. Mike York has done everything right in his Ranger career and his reward is always getting stuck with the least skilled wingers on the team. He has been used as a checking center despite his lack of size because he is the only player willing to commit to playing defense for a whole game. This unit will perform admirably with a dedication to defense and hard work.

Overall Analysis: Of course, none of the above line changes will mean a thing if the Rangers play like they did in Carolina. For some reason, the Rangers were the only team that played opening night like it was game fifty seven. This team’s effort has been continually disappointing for the last four years. If they continue this trend Low will be fired and Glen Sather will make a number of trades.

by – KloucekRising