Time to Change Up the Lines?

One of the biggest reasons for the Rangers turnaround over the last month has been consistency with the forward pairings.

Since the Carcillo acquisition, Alain Vigneault has marched the same line combinations out onto the ice for nine straight games.

And it seemed to be working as the Rangers were 6-1-0 in the first seven of  those games.

Unfortunately, they're 0-2-0 in their last two and have been held to just one goal in three of their last six.

Leading the way for the Rangers scoring problems are Mats Zuccarello (pointless in three straight), Derick Brassard (pointless in four straight, goalless in six straight), Ryan Callahan (one goal in his last seven), Carl Hagelin (pointless in five straight, goalless in eight straight) and Beniot Pouliot (pointless in four straight, goalless in 10 straight).

The secondary scoring that was carrying the Rangers at the end of December and into the new year has completely dried up and become dependent on Nash (five of the team's last eight goals) to provide the scoring.

They're not finding a way to generate offense when opponents take away their speed. They can't continue to be one-dimensional. If they're not finding room to skate, they need to start getting the puck deep and play a tough forechecking game. The Rangers have to learn how to grind out wins when defenses clamp down on them.

Now, I'm not saying AV needs to turn into John Tortorella and start picking line combinations out of a hat at the first sign of struggles, but if the Rangers have a tough time mustering up some offense in the two games at Yankee Stadium a change to the lines may be warranted.

The race in the Metropolitan Division has become too tight and the points too important to wait it out.


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