After starting the season on an 0-17 power play slump, the Rangers netted two goals with the man-advantage against the Devils last Tuesday. But after taking another 0-for on Saturday night against the Canadiens, Alain Vigneault appears ready to mix things up on the power play at the Rangers morning skate today ahead of Monday night's meeting with the Minnesota Wild.
Ryan Malone looks like he'll be back in the lineup, as he was getting work on the top power play unit in place of Chris Kreider, who was sitting out during the skate. Also on the top power play unit was John Moore, who would figure to work the point alongside Ryan McDonagh.
Looks like Malone may be going in for Hayes tonight for #NYR. Malone and JMoore onto power play, Kreider and Hayes off at AM skate— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) October 27, 2014
Kreider finished Saturday night's game against the Canadiens with no problems, so this may be an indication Hayes could be scratched Monday night. Hayes went 2-for-8 on faceoffs Saturday night, an improvement upon his last performance, but still a pretty sour number. He also posted some meek possession numbers along Kreider and Rick Nash, as the line struggled to tread water.
If Hayes is out, which isn't decided yet, according to Vigneault, it would throw things into flux again, as the Rangers head coach said Martin St. Louis could move back to center. St. Louis took a few shifts playing in the middle during the third period against Montreal as the Rangers were chasing a two-goal deficit in the game's final 20 minutes.
Vigneault called St Louis one of his options at center if Hayes doesn't play, but only other option would be a call up. So we will see #NYR— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) October 27, 2014
So there's many unknowns entering tonight's game. The Rangers second power play unit at skate today consisted of three right-handed shots, hosting Lee Stempniak, Chris Mueller, and Dan Girardi. On most nights, those are the only three right-handed players the team dresses.
It may seem a bit odd to some to take Kreider off the power play, considering his ability in front of the net, but Vigneault provided some insight into that move as well.
Vigneault explains that Kreider turned the puck over four times on power plays in Montreal on Saturday #NYR— Pat Leonard (@PLeonardNYDN) October 27, 2014
It's possible that these could be the power play combinations for tonight's game (pure speculation):
Martin St. Louis — Ryan Malone — Rick Nash
Ryan McDonagh — John Moore
Mats Zuccarello — Derick Brassard — Chris Mueller
Lee Stempniak — Dan Girardi
Probably as good a time as any to remind everyone that after playing this game, and then Saturday night's game against the Winnipeg Jets, Derek Stepan will be eligible to come off long-term injured reserve.