Hockey Prospectus, www.puckprospectus.com, is the hockey sibling in the famous Prospectus sports advanced stats analytics family. Some of their writers not only appear on the home site, they also do guest features on ESPN and other sports sites. They do a great job of analyzing the sport through the prism of advanced stats.

Tom Awad, one of the talented scribes and stat analysts on the site, developed a metric whose baseball comparable would likely be Runs Above Replacement-level (RAR). Awad called his player evaluation stat, “Goals Versus Threshold” (GVT) and with it determines a player’s on-ice contributions relative to a “threshold” or “replacement” player. (Before I go further I want to thank Tom for the help he has given me as I try to understand the GVT metric. Sometimes I just can’t grasp the nuts and bolts of these advanced stats. Tom has gone above and beyond in helping me to better understand.)

If you are a fan of baseball you may have heard of the RAR stat. This stat is a close comparable to GVT in that it represents a player’s value above a “replacement” or “threshold” player in a term (runs for baseball or goals for hockey) fans are familiar with. A “threshold” or “replacement level” player would be defined as the top AHL/minor league player in the organization or the highest ranking free agent on the market in-season (not a prospect) and carries a GVT or RAR value of zero. Basically the guy a club would go get in the event one of their regular players went down to injury or something to that effect. For Rangers fans think Chad Kolarik, Andre Deveaux or Kris Newbury.

The GVT metric takes into account the offensive, defensive and shootout contributions of skaters and the goaltending and shootout performances of netminders. The calculations are done separately based on position; forward, defense and goalie. That’s because the responsibilities associated with each position and the stats that accompany them are inherently different. Forwards tend to be expected to produce goals; the blueliners are tasked primarily with goal-prevention; and of course goalies are supposed to stop the puck from crossing their goal line.

The complex formulation also weighs ice time and the quality of that ice time. Obviously players who receive the most ice time have a better chance of accruing the type of counting stats that would help boost his GVT. Factoring the quantity of a player’s ice time serves to normalize his GVT. Just as important as considering the quantity of ice time is factoring for the quality of that ice time.

Clearly ice time is not created equally. For example; it is much easier to score goals while on the man-advantage than it is to score a goal while killing a penalty or at even strength. Thus the formula weighs the different types of ice time differently. It doesn’t punish a PK guy for allowing a goal as much as it would that player at even-strength or the PP. Conversely a player isn’t rewarded quite as well when scoring a marker on the PP as he would if scoring at even-strength or on the PK.

As part of a project I was working on at the time, I attempted to quasi-reverse-engineer the GVT stat so I could track players’ real time performances. Unfortunately, Hockey Prospectus has not been able to make that available to its readers… yet. Mr. Awad told me in an email that they hope to have the GVT stat live on the site by October.

Regardless, I quickly learned just how complex and comprehensive the stat is. I can’t imagine any potentially useful data that may have been omitted from this calculation. At the end of the day, I learned two things: One being that I had a love/hate relationship with Microsoft Excel; the other being that Tom Awad put a ton of work into the GVT metric. He accounts for offense, defense and shootout performance for skaters while factoring for a goaltender’s performance for regulation and in the shootout.

Here’s how some of our favorite Rangers ranked in GVT this past year and for comparative purposes I’ll include the finalists for this year’s Hart, Norris and Vezina trophies.

[jcolumns]Rangers ForwardsRyan Callahan – 7.8

Brandon Dubinsky – 9.6

Marian Gaborik – 10.2

Artem Anisimov – 7.5

Brad Richards – 17.5

Mike Rupp – 1.4

Brian Boyle – 8.0

Brandon Prust – 6.3[jcol/]

Hart Trophy FinalistsCorey Perry – 23.3

Daniel Sedin – 26.2

Martin St. Louis – 20.4[/jcolumns]

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[jcolumns]Rangers Defensemen Marc Staal – 8.7

Dan Girardi – 9.9

Ryan McDonagh – 4.6 (in roughly half a year)

Michael Sauer – 7.1[jcol/]

Norris Trophy FinalistsNicklas Lidstrom – 16.1

Zdeno Chara – 12.8

Shea Weber – 12.7[/jcolumns]

---

[jcolumns]Rangers RookiesMats Zuccarello – 5.5 (in roughly half a season)

Derek Stepan – 7.0[jcol/]

Calder CandidatesJeff Skinner – 13.9

Logan Couture – 16.1

Michael Grabner – 16.8[/jcolumns]

---

GoaltendersHenrik Lundqvist – 29.6

Tim Thomas – 40.0

Pekka Rinne – 36.5

Roberto Luongo – 27.3

What I find interesting is that the Rangers had seven players with a GVT between 7.5 and 10.2. Gaborik was the highest rated skater at 10.2 but he wasn’t close to any of the Hart candidates. This suggests that the Rangers were a balanced club but lacked players who performed at a truly elite level.

Given that Hank rated slightly higher than Roberto Luongo, it stands to reason perhaps he deserved a Vezina nomination rather than the Canucks backstop. Regardless, even GVT backs up the voters awarding of the trophy to the Stanley Cup winning Tim Thomas.

I was surprised that Zuccarello rated so highly considering he played just half a season. Since GVT is more-or-less a counting stat, it is feasible that if the “Norwegian Hobbit” had played a full schedule he would have finished with a GVT around 11; or twice what he earned in half the campaign. That figure would have led Ranger skaters.

GVT is the one player evaluation metric that is close to being perfect. Unlike PC, GVT doesn’t appear to overvalue goaltenders quite like Ryder’s PC metric and it’s hard to argue either with the sheer volume of data included in the formula or with the actual mathematics behind it.

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Tags: Advanced Stats

Dec 20, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi (5) takes the ice before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)
Dec 20, 2016; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi (5) takes the ice before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins at the PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports (Charles LeClaire)

In his return to the Rangers lineup last night, Dan Girardi had an assist and played 20:03.

Girardi had one shot on goal, 1 shot attempt blocked, 1 shot that missed the net, 3 hits, 3 giveaways and 2 blocked shots.

He played 6:41 in the first, 7:26 in the second and 5:56 in the third period while also killing 2:31 on the PK.

Girardi said on MSG after the game he knew his return wouldn't be perfect but that he focused on playing hard, blocking shots and throwing some hits.(MSG)

Tags: Dan Girardi
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Feb 23, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) warms up before playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)
Feb 23, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) warms up before playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)

Henrik Lundqvist will return to the Rangers lineup tonight and make his first start 3/7.

The eight game stretch that he missed due to injury was the second longest in his career, behind the 24 games he missed with that throat/neck injury two years ago.

It's only the third time in Lundqvist's career that he has missed at least seven games due to injury, with this current streak, the stretch two years ago and when he missed 7 games at the end of his rookie season due to a hip flexor.

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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Mar 25, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) makes a save in front of Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) during the second period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports (Kelvin Kuo)
Mar 25, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) makes a save in front of Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) during the second period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports (Kelvin Kuo)

Antti Raanta made 30 saves last night to pick up his fourth shutout of the season.

Raanta said that he thinks he was playing too aggressive in the past few games and that he focused on letting the puck come to him against the Kings. (Newsday)

Alain Vigneault said that Raanta made "all the timely saves" against the Kings and was able to hold the fort for the Rangers after they turned the puck over.

Tags: Antti Raanta
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Mar 25, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Rangers right wing Rick Nash (61) celebrates with center Mika Zibanejad (93) and right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) after an open net goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period at Staples Center. The Rangers won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports (Kelvin Kuo)
Mar 25, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; New York Rangers right wing Rick Nash (61) celebrates with center Mika Zibanejad (93) and right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) after an open net goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period at Staples Center. The Rangers won 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports (Kelvin Kuo)

With a win tonight the Rangers can clinch a spot in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Rangers need two points either gained or not gained by the Islanders to clinch a playoff spot.

The Rangers are on the verge of clinching a playoff spot for the 7th straight season and for the 11th time in the past 12 seasons.

The only season the Rangers didn't make the playoffs, 2009-10, they finished one point out after losing in a shootout on the last day of the season.

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New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault looks on against the Dallas Stars during the first period at Madison Square Garden. ( Adam Hunger)
New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault looks on against the Dallas Stars during the first period at Madison Square Garden. ( Adam Hunger)

Alain Vigneault met with the media after last night's win over LA and said (NYR):

  • On Raanta, "he no doubt made all the timely saves tonight. We had a few turnovers and they got some Grade A looks and he made the saves. The difference is obviously from that end and we are able to score a timely PP goal. We needed to work on our PK, Kreids took a few penalties 200ft from our net and we worked on our PK."
  • On the playoff style of the game, "there were some areas of our game that I liked and some areas where we need to be better. We knew that type of game, heavy forechecking and puck possession game that they play. In the first half of the game we did alright and in the second half it slipped a bit but that was when our goalie came in and our PP got us a timely goal."
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Mar 25, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Jonny Brodzinski (76) reaches for the puck deflected by New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) during the second period at Staples Center.  (Kelvin Kuo (USA Today))
Mar 25, 2017; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Kings center Jonny Brodzinski (76) reaches for the puck deflected by New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) during the second period at Staples Center. (Kelvin Kuo (USA Today))

Second Period

13:02 NYR Derek Stepan; Assists: Brendan Smith, Mats Zuccarello

Third Period

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Feb 23, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) warms up before playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)
Feb 23, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) warms up before playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)

Alain Vigneault said that Henrik Lundqvist will likely play 5-6, likely 6, of the Rangers 8 remaining games this season.

Vigneault said the decision to start Lundqvist tomorrow was made after chatting with goalie coach Benoit Allaire, who felt that Sunday's 6PM start would be a "better fit."

Starting with tomorrow's game it is likely that Lundqvist will play in at least 5 straight games (ANA, SJ, PIT, PHI, WSH) before the Rangers end the season with a back to back in Ottawa and then at home against Pittsburgh.

In the 14 starts before his injury Lundqvist was 9-4-1 with a save percentage of .931.

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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Mar 7, 2017; Sunrise, FL, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kevin Hayes (13) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with center J.T. Miller (10) left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) defenseman Brendan Smith (42) and defenseman Brady Skjei (76) in the second period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Mayer)
Mar 7, 2017; Sunrise, FL, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kevin Hayes (13) celebrates his goal against the Florida Panthers with center J.T. Miller (10) left wing Jimmy Vesey (26) defenseman Brendan Smith (42) and defenseman Brady Skjei (76) in the second period at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports (Robert Mayer)

Tonight against LA the Rangers are expected to start with the following lines:

  • Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello
  • JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, Michael Grabner
  • Jimmy Vesey, Mika Zibanejad, Rick Nash
  • Jesper Fast, Oscar Lindberg and Pavel Buchnevich

Buchnevich will return after being a healthy scratch in the game against the Islanders on Wednesday.

He said that some of the tweaks he made were to give his lineup balance and to allow him to play four lines while the Rangers play three games in four nights.

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Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

Derek Stepan said that the Rangers are facing a "challenge" right now but also have an "opportunity"to prove that they can overcome adversity. (NY Post)

The Rangers are 4-4-2 in their past 10 games and have only scored four goals total in the past two games.

Stepan noted that adversity is always something that you will face during the playoffs. (NY Post)

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Feb 11, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein (8) is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Feb 11, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Klein (8) is congratulated after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Kevin Klein, who has been out since 2/21 with a back injury is ready to return and will play soon for the Rangers, Alain Vigneault said on Friday. (Zipay)

Vigneault said that he did not want two recently injured defensemen return in the same game. (NYR)

He said that he didn't know which game Klein would return in but did say "at some point in the next three games he is going to play.

Tags: Kevin Klein
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Alain Vigneault met with the media in LA earlier today after Rangers practice and said (NYR):

  • Is Henrik playing tomorrow, "no. We will wait until Sunday. It's a 6PM game Sunday and I want him to play 2 of the 3. It makes more sense to play Sunday. We are not going to skate Monday, we will have a morning skate on Tuesday and after talking it over with Benny that is what we decided to do."
  • "He's ready, he could play tomorrow without a doubt. With the 7:30 start and then the 6PM start Benny felt it was a better fit for him."
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New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi celebrates a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period at Nationwide Arena. (Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)
New York Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi celebrates a goal against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the second period at Nationwide Arena. (Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports)

6:05PM: The Rangers have announced that Dan Girardi will return to the Rangers lineup tomorrow against LA and will be paired with Ryan McDonagh. (NYR)

Girardi has missed the past 12 games while a wound on his ankle healed.

He has 4 goals and 8 assists this season for the Rangers with an average of 18:57 per game, 94 hits, 149 blocked shots, 7 takeaways and 38 giveaways.

Tags: Dan Girardi
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Jan 3, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) makes a save against the Buffalo Sabres during the first period at Madison Square Garden.  (Brad Penner (USA Today))
Jan 3, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) makes a save against the Buffalo Sabres during the first period at Madison Square Garden. (Brad Penner (USA Today))

5:43PM: Alain Vigneault confirmed that Raanta will start on Saturday and that Lundqvist will start on Sunday and Tuesday. (Zipay)

5:21PM: Henrik Lundqvist announced that he will start on Sunday against the Ducks. (NYR)

This will be Lundqvis'ts first start since he was injured in the Rangers win over Florida on 3/7.

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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4:12PM: The lines being used at practice today are (Zipay):

  • Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello
  • Jimmy Vesey, Mika Zibanejad, Rick Nash
  • Michael Grabner, Kevin Hayes, JT Miller
  • Pavel Buchnevich, Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast

4:05PM: At Rangers practice in LA today, the defense pairs being used are (Brooks):

  • Ryan McDonagh & Dan Girardi
  • Marc Staal & Nick Holden
  • Brady Skjei & Brendan Smith

Steve Zipay says that it looks like Pavel Buchnevich will be in for Tanner Glass.

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Feb 2, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) waits for a faceoff during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Rangers beat the Sabres in overtime 2 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports (Timothy T. Ludwig)
Feb 2, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) waits for a faceoff during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center. Rangers beat the Sabres in overtime 2 to 1. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports (Timothy T. Ludwig)

Mats Zuccarello has played in close to 90 games since September due to the Rangers schedule, Olympic Qualifications for Norway and the World Cup. (Nettavisen)

He has played in all 74 games for the Rangers, 3 for Norway and 9 for Team Europe (3 preseason, 6 tournament).

Zuccarello said that he doesn't let the amount of games he has played so far this year enter his mind when he is on the ice. (Nettavisen)

Tags: Mats Zuccarello
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 (Adam Hunger)
(Adam Hunger)

The NY Chapter of the PHWA has nominated Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi for the Masterton Trophy which is given annually to "to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey."

Mats Zuccarello was one of the finalists  for the award last season but did not win.

Dominic Moore won the award in 2014 while with the Rangers.

Marc Staal was the Rangers nominee in 2015.

Tags: Dan Girardi
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Mar 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) reacts as he skates off the ice after losing to the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)
Mar 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) reacts as he skates off the ice after losing to the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)

The Rangers have now allowed at least one shorthanded goal against in EIGHT straight games.

The Rangers have allowed 10 goals on their past 27 chances shorthanded

Alain Vigneault said that this is like the cold streak that the Rangers PP was on recently and that "sooner or later" the PK will turn the corner in the same way that the PP has.

Vigneault added, "we have the personnel to get the job done and we will."

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Mar 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Rick Nash (61) shoots and scores a goal in front of New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)
Mar 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Rick Nash (61) shoots and scores a goal in front of New York Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey (14) during the second period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)

Rick Nash has goals in consecutive games for the first time since before the Christmas break.

He has 2 goals and 5 shots in the past two games after going 9 games without a goal.

Nash said after his goal in New Jersey and after his goal against the Islanders that he is "here" & "paid" to score goals. (NY Post)

Tags: Rick Nash
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The Rangers have signed UFA goaltender Chris Nell of Bowling Green State Univeristy.

Nell, 22, was undrafted and went 17-14-2 this past season for BGSU with a 2.15 GAA and .916 save percentage.

From the Rangers release, "Over his final eight appearances of the season, Nell posted a 7-1-0 record, along with a 1.26 GAA, a .957 SV%, and 3 SO, and he registered three consecutive shutouts from Feb. 11 vs. Mercyhurst to Feb. 25 vs. Alabama-Huntsville. He was named the NCAA's First Star of the Week, as well as the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week, for the week ending on Feb. 26, as he stopped all 71 shots he faced in two appearances."

In his college career he went 41-29-10 with a GAA of 2.07, 11 shutouts and a save percentage of .922.

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Sep 29, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) shoots against New Jersey Devils defenseman Steven Santini (34) during the second period of a preseason hockey game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)
Sep 29, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers right wing Pavel Buchnevich (89) shoots against New Jersey Devils defenseman Steven Santini (34) during the second period of a preseason hockey game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports (Brad Penner)

Tanner Glass replaced Pavel Buchnevich in the Rangers lineup last night after being a scratch for two straight games.

  • Glass played 6:50, had a fight in the second period, 1 shot on goal and 2 hits.
  • He played 2:45 in the first, 2:01 in the second and 2:04 in the third.

Alain Vigneault said before the game that due to some bumps and bruises the Rangers had some game time decisions and he said after the game that the opponent being the Islanders also played into the decision.

Vigneault said I just thought that making those two changes would help us out and for the most part our group as a whole played a strong game."

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Mar 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) reacts as he skates off the ice after losing to the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)
Mar 22, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) reacts as he skates off the ice after losing to the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports (Adam Hunger)

The Rangers out-shot the Islanders 36 to 28 (28-21 at 5 on 5) and out-attempted the Islanders 71 to 54, (54-41 at 5 on 5)

Alain Vigneault said that the Rangers played a "strong game,' had "good looks" offensively and defensively didn't give up much.

He said, "we came out and played a good game, it was a hard fought battle and we just got on the wrong side of a couple of bounces in the third."

Antti Raanta said that it was the first "really good 60 minutes at home" in some time and that the Rangers were the "better team" but didn't have "the luck." (Rangers Game Notes)

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Sep 27, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Magnus Hellberg (45) makes a glove save against the New York Islanders during the second period during a preseason hockey game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Sep 27, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Magnus Hellberg (45) makes a glove save against the New York Islanders during the second period during a preseason hockey game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Alain Vigneault met with the media on MSG following the Rangers loss to the Isles and said:

  • "the way we came out, we played a strong game. We had some real good looks, defensively we didn't give up much. We got a little unlucky in the third period as far as bounces on our PK. The only way to get the right bounces is to continue to work smart and hard. That is what this group is gonna do. We came out and played a good game, it was a hard fought battle and we just got on the wrong side of a couple of bounces in the third."
  • On missing chances offensively, "give their goalie credit, he made some big saves and give them credit also. They are battling hard and they came up with a solid effort also."
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GEICO SportsNite: NYI@NYR 00:01:04
Alain Vigneault, Ryan McDonagh and John Tavares break down the game between the crosstown rivals as the Islanders defeated the Rangers, 3-2.

The Islanders scored two goals in the third period to defeat the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night, 3-2.  >> Read more

First Period

  • 2:46 NYR Mats Zuccarello (Power Play); Assists: Mika Zibanejad, Derek Stepan

Second Period

  • 3:40 NYI Anders Lee; Assists: Anthony Beauviller, Nick Leddy
  • 6:36 NYR Rick Nash; Assists: Oscar Lindberg, Nick Holden

Third Period

  • 5:01 NYI Nikolay Kulemin (Power Play); Assists: Anthony Beavuillier, Joshua Ho-Sang
  • 12:38 NYI Andrew Ladd (Power Play); Assists: Anders Lee, John Tavares
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Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal with forward Oscar Lindberg (24) and forward Pavel Buchnevich (89) during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal with forward Oscar Lindberg (24) and forward Pavel Buchnevich (89) during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

11:14PM: Asked about putting Glass and Kampfer in, Alain Vigneault said that it had somehwat to do with it being a back to back, "a little bit of that, a little bit of the opponent also. I just thought that making those two changes would help us out and for the most part our group as a whole played a strong game."

8:02PM: The Rangers have confirmed that Buchnevich and Clendening are scratched.

7:47PM: According to the line rushes in warmups, Tanner Glass will replace Pavel Buchnevich and Steven Kampfer will replace Adam Clendening in the Rangers lineup tonight. (Brooks)

Alain Vigneault said earlier in the day that the Rangers had some gametime decisions relating to bumps and bruises in the second part of a back to back.

Tags: Adam Clendening, Pavel Buchnevich, Steve Kampfer, Tanner Glass
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New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) celebrates scoring a goal during the second period against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger)
New York Rangers center Derek Stepan (21) celebrates scoring a goal during the second period against the Ottawa Senators at Madison Square Garden. (Adam Hunger)

The Rangers return to MSG tonight having lost six straight on home ice and face an Islanders team that is currently three points out of a playoff spot.

Alain Vigneault was asked about matching the Islanders desperation tonight and said that the Rangers don't have a checkmark by their name for the playoffs yet and that "we will come ready to play tonight."

On playing at home, Vigneault said that the Rangers just need to put a 60 minute game together on home ice.

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Oct 19, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault looks on from the bench against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period at Madison Square Garden. The Red Wings won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Oct 19, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault looks on from the bench against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period at Madison Square Garden. The Red Wings won 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

Alain Vigneault met with the media prior to tonight's game against the Isles and said (NYR):

  • On the lineup, "I have some gametime decisions to make. Back to back, some bumps and bruises and we will probably decide during warmups. There is a possibility up front and a definite possibility on defense."
  • Hank is doing real well. If you'd ask him he would probably want to play tonight but we will get through what we decided before, he will skate today, skate in LA and then he will get in 2 of the 3 games on that trip."
  • Which games, "not sure if it's Saturday or Sunday, we are still looking at the different options there but he should be able to play two of the three games."
  • More on Hank, "I would say that if we really need him tonight he might play. That is how good he has felt, he is that close. He has been working hard and right now it's about us being smart about this and that is what we are doing."
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Feb 23, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) warms up before playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)
Feb 23, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (30) warms up before playing against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports (Tom Szczerbowski)

11:54AM: Alain Vigneault said that Antti Raanta will start tonight against the Islanders but that Henrik Lundqvist is likely to play 2 of the 3 games on the Rangers upcoming road trip. (NYR)

The Rangers play in LA on Saturday, Anaheim on Sunday and San Jose next Tuesday.

It had been suggested that the Rangers were targeting their California trip as a time when Lundqvist could return.

Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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11:41AM: The Rangers are conducting their morning skate today and the following players are on the ice: Tanner Glass, Steven Kampfer, Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel, Kevin Klein, Dan Girardi and Henrik Lundqvist. (NYR)

The Rangers announced yesterday that the players on the ice this morning would be the "extras."

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Mar 21, 2017; Newark, NJ, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Nick Holden (22) hits New Jersey Devils left wing Joseph Blandisi (64) during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)
Mar 21, 2017; Newark, NJ, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Nick Holden (22) hits New Jersey Devils left wing Joseph Blandisi (64) during the second period at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports (Ed Mulholland)

The Rangers had 68 shot attempts against the Devils last night, compared to the 41 that the Devils had.

The Rangers had 14 hits, the Devils had 15 and the Rangers forced the Devils into 11 giveaways compared to only 3 for the Rangers.

JT Miller said that it was a "playoff-type game" and that everyone put their bodies on the line. (NY Times & Newsday)

Antti Raanta said that there was a lot of "emotion and energy" against the Devils last night and that overall it was a "pretty solid 60" for the Rangers. (NY Post)

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 (AP)
(AP)

Alain Vigneault met with the media on MSG following the Rangers loss to the Devils and said:

  • On the battle level, "it was a competitive game, no doubt there. Both teams, and we talked about this prior to the game, their top line, I don't know how they are playing against other teams but against us they are giving us a handful, lots of speed and skill. For the most part both teams battled hard, made plays, lots of physicality and we were able to come back and tie it up. In OT we had some looks and they were able to make us pay when we missed the net and they came down 2 on 1."
  • On the emotion in the game, "every game is competitive and there is no doubt that there was some physicality and some bad blood in there. That is part of hockey and we need to refocus because we have another tough matchup tomorrow night."
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Raanta positive following loss 00:00:28
Rangers goalie Antti Raanta talks about the 3-2 loss against the New Jersey Devils and how the Rangers played well despite the result.

Second Period

15:16 NJD John Quenneville (Power Play); Assists: Joseph Blandisi, Pavel Zacha

16:53 NYR Oscar Lindberg; Assists: Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich

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Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash (61) skates during the third period against the Winnipeg Jets at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports (Danny Wild)
Nov 6, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers left wing Rick Nash (61) skates during the third period against the Winnipeg Jets at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports (Danny Wild)

Rick Nash has not scored in the four games since he returned from injury and hasn't scored in 9 games overall, dating back to 2/26 against Columbus.

Nash has put 44 shots on goal during his nine-game scoreless streak and has a shooting percentage of 2.3% during that stretch.

In 60 games last season Nash had 15 goals and 21 assists, with a shooting percentage of 8.2% in 16:56 per game.

Tags: Rick Nash
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Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (24) scores a goal on New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) during the third period at Xcel Energy Center. The Rangers defeated the Wild 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (24) scores a goal on New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) during the third period at Xcel Energy Center. The Rangers defeated the Wild 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

The Rangers have allowed PP goals against in six straight games, allowing teams to go 7 for 20 in that span.

The Rangers now rank 20th in the NHL in penalty killing, 25th at home but 8th on the road.

Alain Vigneault spoke before the game against Minnesota and said that the Rangers road PK has been good this season but that on the road they have been having a lot of "miscues and misreads."

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The Rangers magic number to clinch a playoff spot is 8, according to Steve Zipay.

The Rangers can clinch a spot with any combination of 8 points either gained by them or lost by the Islanders.

The Rangers have a 100% chance of making the playoffs according to Sports Club Stats.

According to PlayoffStatus.com the Rangers have a 91% chance of finishing in the top Wild Card spot with a less than 1% chance of falling to the second Wild Card spot.

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Alain Vigneault met with the media following Monday's practice and said (NYR):

  • On Hank, "I know he has been following the medical protocol and going through the different stages with Benny on the ice. Talked to him briefly before practice and said he was feeling much better, he looked alright and did most of the practice today and will skate again tomorrow and go from there."
  • More on Hank, "I think the logical thing to say is that we are on the same protocol before and that I would expect him at some point on the California trip."
Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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 ( Adam Hunger)
( Adam Hunger)

Kevin Klein has been out since 2/21 and has missed the past 13 games with back spasms.

Alain Vigneault said on Monday that Klein, along with Dan Girardi, have both been cleared medically to return but after being out so long they need to get back "up to speed."

Vigneault cited pace and execution as two things that Klein and Girardi need to get back.

Tags: Kevin Klein
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Jan 23, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (30) reacts after defeating the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)
Jan 23, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist (30) reacts after defeating the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports (Andy Marlin)

3/20/17 | 4:06PM: Alain Vigneault said today:

  • On Hank, "I know he has been following the medical protocol and going through the different stages with Benny on the ice. Talked to him briefly before practice and said he was feeling much better, he looked alright and did most of the practice today and will skate again tomorrow and go from there."
  • More on Hank, "I think the logical thing to say is that we are on the same protocol before and that I would expect him at some point on the California trip."

3:05PM: Lundqvist spoke today and said (NYR):

  • "I felt pretty good. The toughest part for me is being patient and not trying to do too much. We have a plan and trying to stick to that. The last couple of days have been really good, I think, on the ice and now it's about getting my speed and timing back. I can feel that I have been away for a little bit but a couple of good days of practice and get back to it."
Tags: Henrik Lundqvist
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 Brian Compton, Nick Licalzi, and Adam Rotter look back at the Rangers' win over the Wild, Brady Skjei's homecoming, Marc Staal's unfamiliar spot on the blue line, and Jimmy Vesey's return to the scoresheet. Later, Alex Prewitt of Sports Illustrated calls in to discuss his piece on Kevin Hayes.

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1:36PM: The Rangers will use the same lineup that defeated Minnesota on Saturday when they visit Newark to play the Devils tomorrow. (NYR)

This means that both Pavel Buchnevich and Adam Clendening will play for the second straight game and that Antti Raanta will be in net.

Ryan McDonagh, who had a maintenance day, will play tomorrow. (NYR)


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12:41PM: Henrik Lundqvist, Kevin Klein and Dan Girardi are all skating today at Rangers practice. (NYR)

Ryan McDonagh is not skating with what the team has termed a maintenance day.

Klein and Girardi are skating as a pair together and are unlikely to play against the Devils tomorrow. (Zipay)

Steve Zipay says that the Rangers seem to have their "Kid Line" of Pavel Buchnevich, Jimmy Vesey and Oscar Lindberg still together. (Zipay)

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Jan 22, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Rangers left wing J.T. Miller (10) celebrates his game winning goal in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. New York won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports (Rick Osentoski)
Jan 22, 2017; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Rangers left wing J.T. Miller (10) celebrates his game winning goal in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. New York won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports (Rick Osentoski)

Larry Brooks writes that the Rangers best lineup is one that includes JT Miller playing on the third line with Kevin Hayes and Michael Grabner. (NY Post)

Brooks writes that Alain Vigneault needs to have confidence in Jimmy Vesey and boost him back into the top-six which can allow Miller to slide down to the third line. (NY Post)

Miller has skated with Rick Nash in the past few games and while Brooks says that Miller and Nash play well together and are the team's "two best forwards by a considerable margin," taking Miller away from Hayes hurts the Rangers chemistry and "dilutes" their depth. (NY Post)

Brooks writes that the Rangers need to rely on their depth to win and that they are a much deeper team with Vesey in the top-six and Miller playing with Hayes. (NY Post)

Tags: J.T. Miller
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Jan 7, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Adam Clendening (4) takes a slap shot during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Rangers defeated the Blue Jackets 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports (Russell LaBounty)
Jan 7, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Adam Clendening (4) takes a slap shot during the third period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Rangers defeated the Blue Jackets 5-4. Mandatory Credit: Russell LaBounty-USA TODAY Sports (Russell LaBounty)

In his return to the lineup on Saturday, Adam Clendening played 10:48 and had an assist.

Clendening had been a healthy scratch for six games after the Rangers called up Steve Kampfer.

He played 4:52 in the first period, 4:44 in the second period and 1:12 in the third period.

Tags: Adam Clendening
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Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) celebrates with defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) following the game against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Rangers defeated the Wild 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers goalie Antti Raanta (32) celebrates with defenseman Ryan McDonagh (27) following the game against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Rangers defeated the Wild 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

Chris Kreider said that when the Rangers play on the road they play a "north-south" game but that when they are on the road they play more "east-west." (NY Post)

Kreider said that the Rangers pay more attention to detail on the road and need to straighten things out at MSG. (NY Post)

Rick Nash talked about Friday about the Rangers being too "cute" with their play at MSG and said that they may have been "too cute" with some odd-man rushes on Saturday in Minnesota but that overall they simplified and "played the kind of game we need." (NY Post)

Nash said that the Rangers play with a clearer mind when on the road and that when they are at home they try too hard to impress with their skill and speed. (NY Post)

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Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal (18) hits Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (11) during the first period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal (18) hits Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (11) during the first period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

Marc Staal was paired with Ryan McDonagh for the 7th straight game last night but, for the first time, Staal was paired on the right while McDonagh played on the left.

Staal has played his career almost entirely on the left side and told Larry Brooks that he couldn't remember the last time he played an entire game as the right defenseman. (NY Post)

He played 21:06 and told Brooks that he didn't know he was playing on the right side until he saw it on the board. He said that Vigneault didn't give him a reason for the switch and that he just "went out and played." (NY Post)

Tags: Marc Staal
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Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal on Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) during the second period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal on Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk (40) during the second period at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

Jimmy Vesey scored his first goal in 14 games last night.

Vesey last scored on 2/16 against the Islanders and has 4 goals in the past 31 games.

He had two shots on goal, 1 shot attempt blocked, 1 hit and 1 blocked shot.

Tags: Jimmy Vesey
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Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal with forward Oscar Lindberg (24) and forward Pavel Buchnevich (89) during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal with forward Oscar Lindberg (24) and forward Pavel Buchnevich (89) during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

Pavel Buchnevich returned to the Rangers lineup last night in place of Tanner Glass after being scratched on Friday in favor of Glass.

Buchnevich played 9:42, had an assist, 1 shot on goal and 2 shot attempts blocked.

He played 3:09 in the first period, 4:11 in the second period and 2:22 in the third period, all at even strength.

When he was on the ice the Rangers had 9 shot attempts for, 5 against, 4 shots on goal for and 5 against. (Natural Stat Trick)

Tags: Pavel Buchnevich
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Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Mar 18, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers forward Jimmy Vesey (26) celebrates his goal with teammates during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

Despite being outshot 12-9 in the first period, the Rangers and Wild went to the first intermission tied at 1.

Overall the Rangers outshot the Wild 30-27 and outhit the Wild 14-12, with 8 of those hits coming from Marc Staal and Nick Holden (4 each).

Alain Vigneault said that the Rangers played a "good game in a real tough building" and had a "real gutsy performance."

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Dec 29, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault looks on prior to the game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports (Matt Kartozian)
Dec 29, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault looks on prior to the game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports (Matt Kartozian)

Alain Vigneault met with the media on MSG following the Rangers win over Minnesota and said:

  • On the game, "there is no doubt that we played a good game in a real tough building. We got in late last night and I thought that it was a real gutsy performance by our group here. They started real hard and we were able to get by that first hard wave but after that we played solid both offensively and defensively and we had some good looks and when we had breakdowns Antti made some good saves."
  • On battle level, "to come into play this team, you just look at their lineup and to get two points you need a solid effort from the whole group. We got that tonight, our kids line was real good and got us that big goal in the second period and we did what we had to do to get the two points."
  • On the line switch, "it happened early on, we took those penalties and I wanted to get Nasher and Step back together on one of the units and by doing that, we killed the second penalty and we had a faceoff in their end, Step was a little tired and I put Mika out there and they scored. I just figured that I would go with that. (Laugh) Wasn't a lot of thinking on that one."
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