Rangers in Columbus to start home and home with 1st line already feeling heat

Brassard will need to step up (Lohud.com)

Brassard will need to step up (Lohud.com)

The undefeated Rangers (yes, just 1-0 but you guys love it) are in Columbus tonight as they start a home and home series against the Blue Jackets. According to a report by Larry Brooks, not all is hunky-dory in Rangerstown.

GM2: Rangers at Blue Jackets, 7PM

[su_quote cite=”Larry Brooks” url=”http://nypost.com/2015/10/08/vigneaults-blunt-expletive-laced-challenge-to-rangers-top-line/”]The f-bombs, loud and repetitive, came flying out of the mouth of Alain Vigneault during one of the drills at Thursday’s practice, with the coach directing his irritation toward Derick Brassard and linemates Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash.[/su_quote]

Is this just a coach trying to motivate his top players or is there something more to this?

First off, in watching the game again I felt the trio had a slow start but weren’t terrible. However, as the game went on Rick Nash looked stronger and Zuccarello was noticeable. Unfortunately, Derick Brassard appeared to fade into obscurity.

Larry Brooks also noted that AV let it be clearly known that he wants them to compete harder. The head coach also would not allow the excuse of them being slow starters to be acceptable.

Considering this is only game one, AV is trying to make sure he gets the best of every player. So this is simply the coach trying to motivate his top line. The real question is why the urgency after one game? It is very simple, AV stated all preseason that making the playoffs in the East would be a challenge this year. Especially with the improvements made by the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins. The Islanders are on an up trend and the team they face tonight have added Brandon Saad and are much healthier than last season.

Will his challenge work? Face-off tonight is at 7PM if you want to find out.

NYR at CBJ (DailyFaceoff)

NYR at CBJ (DailyFaceoff)

FTNYR 3 BURNING QUESTIONS

Will Derick Brassard and his linemates respond to AV’s challenge?

Notice, I put the emphasis on Brass? That’s because it really is important for the Rangers top line center to elevate his play back to last season’s level. If he’s going, it will make it much easier for Rick Nash to exploit the Blue Jackets slower defense.

Can Chris Kreider please HIT THE NET?

I remarked on my twitter feed that Kreider needs to start burying these chances if he wants to take the next step to superstardom. Here’s what Kreider said about it:

[su_quote cite=”Pat Leonard” url=”http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/rangers/crushed-ice-rangers-miller-stands-opening-night-win-blog-entry-1.2390197″]“I’m not gonna score if I stop shooting it, so I’m gonna keep shooting those.” He also said that while it’s no excuse, the United Center ice wasn’t up to par. “It’s almost like playoff hockey the first game of the year,” Kreider said, “bad ice, a couple of very good teams, and guys are playing hard. But if you miss the net you don’t give yourself a chance to score. So I have to simplify and put those on net.”[/su_quote]

Dan Girardi not a top defense pairing?

With Tanner Glass out of the lineup, Dan Boyle and Dan Girardi are now the two favorite targets of fans hate. Hey, I guess it has to be somebody. Boyle is a very solid defenseman that we would like to see take a few less chances pinching in the offensive zone. Girardi on the other hand is the new anti-christ of the fancy stat loving aficionados of the hockey world.

So, Girardi had a turnover that led to a goal against the Blackhawks. That was bad. He also tried a cross ice clear that hit Keith Yandle in the chest and allowed the Hawks some zone time. The latter was a silly mistake but not an indication that Girardi shouldn’t be a top defenseman.

I find it funny how many of these aficionados (not all) talk about his inability to suppress shots, blah blah blah. Yet, there he is in the waning minutes of a one goal game doing the things that has earned the coach’s trust and his position as McDonagh’s partner. Of course, they either disregard or downplay the fact that he faces some of the league’s elite players night after night.

My assessment is that Dan Girardi is still a top 4 defenseman at the very least and still works well with McDonagh. Hey, don’t take my word for it or that of the head coach’s actions. Here’s an honest assessment from Pierre McGuire.

[su_quote cite=”via SNYRANGERS” url=”http://snyrangersblog.com/page/2/”]”The thing that stood out with the Rangers, just their stability on the back end. Girardi and McDonagh had tough portions of the game early on but when they needed to get going and get physical they were able to do that.”[/su_quote]

Until the coach removes him from the top defense pairing, I’ll ignore what some non-athletic spreadsheet analysts think.

FullTilt Forecast

Rangers play road warriors and home-opener spoiler again. 5-1 Blueshirts.