My analysis of the Rangers' and Hurricanes' forwards
The Rangers had their first practice in the bubble Monday. In terms of news or updates, not much from the team, who play the Islanders on Wednesday. From the league, only two goalies can dress Wednesday, meaning Alexandar Georgiev is the odd-man out. After covering special teams, goalies and defense, I complete the match-up analysis by looking at the forwards.
David Quinn post-practice
Interesting rules for the exhibition game. One extra D and F for the game, so as Larry Brooks said, look for Libor Hajek and Brendan Lemieux to dress. Unsure I understand why only two goalies can dress. Henrik Lundqvist and Igor Shesterkin may split the game, but no reason not to have the third goalie available in case of an emergency.
A pair of analytical views at both teams. The first covering several graphs with the second, a look at the forwards. I will let you decide your own thoughts on each :)
New York Rangers:
Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Pavel Buchnevich
Artemiy Panarin-Ryan Strome-Jesper Fast
Phil Di Giuseppe-Filip Chytil-Kappo Kakko
Brett Howden-Greg McKegg-Julien Gautheir
Extras: Brendan Lemeiux (two-game suspension), Steven Fogarty, Tim Gettinger, Vitali Kravtsov Vinni Lettieri and Danny O'Regan.
The Rangers create matchup problems by separating Zib and Panarin, preventing one d-pairing from focusing on the uo. When play was halted, Zib was on fire with 11 goals his last six goals, giving the Swede 41 goals and 75 points in just 57 games on the year. The delay enabled Kreider, sidelined with a broken foot since Feb. 28 against the Flyers, enough time to heal. He was on a five-game pointless streak when injured but had 24 goals and 21 assists in 45 games, including 32 points in a 30-game stretch that netted him an All-Star Game appearance. Buchnevich, the team's current version of Alexei Kovalev, a talented player who seems to leave you wanting more, appeared to finally be tapping into his talent. His regular season ended with a seven-game point streak, giving the Russian winger 16 goals and 30 assists on the year.
Panarin gave the Rangers everything the team could have wanted and more as he earned Hart Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award nominations. He was a goal-scoring machine early, then despite ending the season on an-eight goalless streak, finished the year with 32 goals and 63 assists, both career-highs. What surprised us was his compete level in all three levels, not just offensively. Strome, selected fifth overall in 2011 by the Islanders, was propelled by playing with Panarin, but also came into his own. He also closed the year on a seven-game goal slide, but finished with 18 goals and 41 assists while skating a career-high 19:35 a contest. Strome produced both at even-strength and man-advantage, setting himself up for a big money contract as an RFA. Fast is the defensive ballast to that line. He likely should be on the third line, but consistently makes plays on all ends of the ice. Despite being a Swede, he is the team's Swiss Army knife while contributing 12 goals and 29 points.
PDG, who played 147 games for Carolina, provides a bit of grit and bite to the third line. But if the team slumps, he may be the odd-man out, not just from the line but lineup. Chytil showed flashes of brilliance but was inconsistent in his sophomore campaign. He tallied 14 goals and nine assists and was more physical, using his 6-foot-2, 210 pound frame, as the season continued. Chytil, who is just 21, needs to improve in his own and neutral zone, but solidified his role as the third center, giving hope that he can be much more as he matures, The same can be said about Kakko. He still is not fully in the clear, due to his Type-1 diabetes and celiac disease, but is expected to be in the lineup. Kakko needs to improve as to when to hold the puck and go 1-on-1 and when to give it up and find open ice. He showed better judgment before the pandemic and came to Training Camp 2.0 a more mature and engaging individual, settled in his own skin. I expect a big playoffs from Kakko,
The fourth line doesn't see much time, but will need to hold their own when in the lineup. Lemiuex had a poor campaign, and if New York is up 2-0 when he is eligible to return, he will remain on the bench. Howden, better served playing on the wing, did not have a particularly good season. To date, he has shown that he belongs on the fourth line. McKegg brings physical play and a modicum of skill. He, like Howden, can play center and wing, ceding faceoffs to Howden. What is impressive is his motor, as he never quits on a play. Gauthier, who came to the Rangers for Joey Keane, was selected by Carolina in the first round of the 2016 draft, He scored 37 goals in 44 games for Charlotte in the AHL and played 12 games for the Rangers. Gauthier is a big body, who could end up on the third line in place of PDG.
Fogarty might be the next man up, since he fits well as a fourth-liner, who is responsible in all three lines. If Quinn opts for the home run, Kravtsov could get a look, but that may be a long shot. In addition, Fast could slide down and Kakko up if the team needs to load up the top two lines.
Andrei Svechnikov — Sebastian Aho — Teuvo Teravainen
Brock McGinn — Jordan Staal — Justin Williams
Nino Niederreiter/Ryan Dzingel — Vincent Trocheck — Martin Necas
Warren Foegele — Morgan Geekie — Jordan Martinook
Unlike New York, Carolina loads up the first line. Svechnikov, selected by the Canes after moving up from 11 to 2 in 2018, built off his fine rookie campaign to score 24 goals and dish out 27 assists. Master of the Michigan goal, Svech is what we hope Kakko can become. He projects to be a PPG winger and potential All-Star in the future. Aho, who can play center and wing, Aho led in both total points (66) and goals (38, a career high) for the Canes. Locked up for five years thanks to a ridiculous offer sheet by Montreal, Aho might be underpaid at $8.4 mil per season. Teravainen, stolen from Chicago, has steadily improved each year. He isn't a sniper, but should score 20-25 goals a year while chipping in close to 50 assists. TT is locked up for four more years at $5.4 million, a rate that will allow Carolina to keep their big three together.
McGinn had a rough campaign, finishing with just 17 points in 68 games. Coach Rod Brind'Amour could swap Nino Niederriter in for McGinn to better balance the lineup. But Nino also saw his production fall off to 29 points after he scored 53 last season. Staal and Williams produce Carolina playoff experience. Staal closed the season strong with a goal and seven assists his last 12 games, but finished with just eight goals and 27 points. Williams is Mr. Game 7 and was a member of the club's 2016 Cup winning squad, and after sitting out much of the season, he returned in mid-January, scoring eight goals and three assists in 20 games. The difference between the two teams can be seen in the discrepancy and talent on the second line. While the first line might tilt mildly to Carlina, the second weighs heavily to New York.
Trocheck, brought in at the deadline from Florida, upgraded the Hurricanes third line. His skating has never recovered from the broken ankle he suffered in 2017-18, but I wouldn't be shocked if he and Staal swap spots. Dzingel has several solid seasons in Ottawa, capped in 2018-19, but his production fell off a cliff this year, his first in Carolina. He might end up a healthy scratch with Nino on the third line, Necas, a first round pick in 2017, finally stuck this season, scoring 16 goals and 20 assists in 64 games. He has tremendous talent and should be a fixture on the second line next season for the Hurricanes.
Foegele saw some time in the top six this year, filling in when needed, while scoring 13 goals and adding 17 assists. He could get a look on that line again, replacing Dzingel or Nino or McGinn while skating with Trocheck and Necas, depending on how Brind'Amour wants to align the roster. Martinook may be the most physical forward on the roster. He got a bit of a spark when Geekie joined the line late in the season, which could be the case again in the playoffs. Dzingel could be on the bench for Geekie, who tallied 19 goals and 27 assists for Charlotte and added three goals and an assist in four games for the parent club.
Extras: Dzingel, Steven Lorentz, Max McCormick and Ryan Suzuki
The top two lines could be a wash, as both can take over and dominate games. New York should have the advantage on the second trio, even if Brind'Amour goes Foegele-Trocheck-Necas, which was an effective trio, as the Panarin line may face the Canes' second defensive pair. If Chytil and Kakko play as expected, the Rangers should have the advantage on the third line, especially if Gauthier is moved, depending on which trio Carolina deploys, while the. ‘Canes gets the nod on the fourth line, especially if Geekie dresses. Overall, I give the edge to New York thanks to their top-six.