Pre-Game in Vancouver: AV Tweaks Line Combinations
Despite the fact that the Rangers are coming off of a commanding 5-0 victory in Edmonton two days prior, head coach Alain Vigneault made the decision to change three of his line combinations for tonight's contest with the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena, though he will not alter any of the personnel that will dress in the game. That means J.T. Miller, Ryan Haggerty, Justin Falk, and the recovering John Moore will all be scratched again.
Vigneault told reporters pre-game that he will slide Carl Hagelin on to the top line alongside Derek Stepan and Rick Nash, move Dominic Moore from center on the fourth line to left wing on a line with Brad Richards and Marty St. Louis, and will place Daniel Carcillo back on the fourth line with Brian Boyle moving from the wing to center, and Derek Dorsett remaining on the right side. The line of Benoit Pouliot-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello will remain intact.
"I'm hoping that I help my top end, and it's not going to affect that chemistry (on the fourth line)," explained Vigneault. "We'll find out if it does, and if so, then I'll have to adjust."
The Rangers' fourth line has been playing terrific hockey for several weeks, setting an aggressive tone in the offensive end, playing physically, chipping in with timely goals, and playing smart defensive hockey. The head coach admitted it's a bit of a risk breaking that line up, but he is trying to find the right fit to replace the injured Chris Kreider alongside Stepan and Nash, and is also seeking the best linemates for St. Louis.
"I thought Step and Nasher look better when they have speed on that left side," explained Vigneault, who will be coaching for the first time in a regular season game here in Vancouver since being replaced as Canucks head coach last spring. "So even though Brad and Hags have had a good chemistry, Hags up there would help Step and Nasher. I feel that Dom and Marty kill penalties together, and I feel they have some chemistry going back from the Tampa days---(assistant coach) Dan Lacroix said they had played together a little bit."
Henrik Lundqvist, who has shut out the Canucks the last two times he has faced them, including a 4-0 win here at Rogers Arena back on October 18, 2011, will start in goal for the Rangers. He had started eight games in a row including the 4-3 loss in Calgary last Friday that opened up this four-game road trip, but watched Cam Talbot get the call and respond with a 26-save shutout on Sunday night.
Eddie Lack will get the start for Vancouver. The 26 year-old Swedish rookie is 15-15-5 on the season with a 2.41 goals against average and four shutouts; and was thrust into the No. 1 role when Roberto Luongo was traded to Florida at the trade deadline. He has started 16 consecutive games, including all 12 since the Luongo trade.