Monday, November 14, 2011

Rangers Unveil New Lines at Practice

John Tortorella broke out some new forward line combinations at practice today that will presumably be the lines we'll see tomorrow night when the Rangers take on the Islanders on the Island. The lines the Rangers used at practice today actually were actually the same ones they ended their last game with on Friday night.

Here are the lines Torts rolled with:


Click below to read more news and notes from practice today.

John Tortorella also repeated today that he sees Brandon Dubinsky's future on the Rangers as a left wing and not a center. Even though Torts has said time and time again that Dubinsky's future here is playing on the left wing, he has occasionally moved Dubinsky back to center a few times over the past few years (including, most recently, the first two periods of Friday's game against Carolina) when he's struggled offensively and the Rangers were looking for something to spark his play. It proved to work on Friday, when Dubinsky finally scored his first goal of the season after he was shifted back to the left wing in the third period with Brian Boyle and Ryan Callahan on his line.

Also worth noting is the fact that Sean Avery has moved up to Brad Richards' line after he played possibly his best game within the last two years against the Hurricanes. Avery recorded a beautiful goal and was making things happen all night long whenever he was on the ice. Being a long-time Avery supporter, I'm glad that John Tortorella has given Sean a fair shot at moving up in the lineup. We've seen Torts put an extremely short leash on Avery in the past, though, only to quickly demote Avery back to the fourth line or the press box, but hopefully this time he'll give Avery a few games to develop some chemistry with Brad Richards. Richards and Avery are friends off the ice and know each other from their time playing in Dallas together. Richards has also praised Avery's play when his game is going right in the past, so maybe they can develop some chemistry with each other on the ice.

John Tortorella also said after practice today that Anton Stralman is not quite ready to make his Rangers debut just yet. Stralman is still getting familiar with the Rangers' system and his conditioning isn't up to Torts' standards after being with the team for only a week so far. The Rangers have also discussed the possibility of sending Stralman on a conditioning stint with the Connecticut Whale, but Stralman would need to agree to that for the Rangers to send him there. I certainly don't think he would be opposed to doing whatever it takes to get him into the lineup sooner. The fact of the matter is that the third defensive pairing of Steve Eminger-Jeff Woywitka has been playing much better recently and it doesn't make sense to tinker with the lineup anyway until something goes wrong.


  1. Not sure why they got Stralman in the first place. I understand Stall is close to returning and they have Bell and Erixion if they get in a pinch. I like how Woywitka plays, but still think Eminger is too much of a puck watcher.
    Avery may get his big chance playing with Richards. Lets see if he is the prolific goal scorer that some of the Ranger followers make him out to be.

  2. Glen Sather said today at the Hockey Hall of Fame that there's no update on Marc Staal, which isn't good news. No update means that everything is status quo and he still hasn't been cleared to start light workouts or any physical activity yet. You gotta figure at this point even when Staal eventually is cleared to play he's going to need a few weeks to get back into shape.

    As for why they got Stralman, it seems clear that the Rangers don't want to rush Erixon back up to the NHL this year. They want him to log big minutes in Hartford so he can continue to develop. The Rangers were intrigued by Stralman mainly because of his big shot from the point that could be a nice addition to the power play. Woywitka has played a few nice games in a row, but John Tortorella is playing him in very low key situations so his weaknesses don't get exposed.

    As for Avery - I'm not sure how long he'll be given on Richards' line, but if he keeps playing the way he did on Friday, uses his speed, works the boards, etc. he'll be a nice asset to have going forward.