The New York Rangers will host the Buffalo Sabres in what is one of just two home games during a 10 game stretch to start 2015. During that stretch they will also face a number of solid playoff-caliber teams. So getting two points tonight is vital. The Sabres, despite a decent run of success in wins and losses, are certainly one of the most jaw-droppingly bad teams in the league. They get absolutely annihilated in the shot attempt battle and rely on Jhonas Enroth to save their bacon where possible. It would serve the Rangers well to pounce early and often, running up odd-man rushes and causing the Sabres to wilt early. Henrik Lundqvist is expected to get the start in net. [Newsday] [lohud]
Tanner Glass is a healthy scratch for the second game in a row tonight. John Moore is also likely to sit.
We are approaching mid-season here and John Moore is still struggling to get regular playing time. He is pretty much in a 50/50 timeshare with Matt Hunwick, a player who has been a pleasant surprise for the Rangers organization, but isn't likely to ever distinguish his play from anything more than a 6th-7th defenseman. What is troubling for Moore is that, despite his relative youth, he should have already distinguished himself by now and there are certain things that indicate a high ceiling yet unrealized. The former first-rounder's smooth skating, exceptional passing and shot accuracy, deft hands, and physical attributes are all top four caliber. But they are interspersed with questionable decision-making, a propensity for the big mistake, and inconsistent defensive awareness in the zone. He often appears tentative and makes a lot of timing mistakes when it comes to stepping up and his physical play.
Moore hasn't quite tumbled out of the picture yet, but it appears to be that is more related to circumstance and lack of depth than anything else. I found these quotes from AV regarding Moore and Hunwick interesting [NY Post]:
If New Years Eve was any indication, Ryan McDonagh is healthy and hitting his stride. He was an absolute menace against the Panthers. He quite literally controlled all aspects of the game nearly every time he was on the ice, imposing his will defensively and offensively. This is good. This is excellent.
The Rangers brass has not made a decision on whether to recall Anthony Duclair after the World Junior Championships conclude on Monday. Duclair has been a force playing on Canada's top line beside Max Domi and Sam Reinhart. He has certainly distinguished himself as one of the best young prospects in the world. But the Rangers have solid depth and must decide whether limiting his role to something of a game by game decision is what is best for his development. On the other side of the coin, if he is not recalled, he would be playing at a level that he has clearly eclipsed. Also, his junior club, the Quebec Remparts, hosts the Memorial Cup this season. That means that he would not be available to return to the Rangers until after it concludes or they are eliminated, no earlier than May 27th. While playing in the Memorial Cup would certainly be a noteworthy experience for him, playing in the NHL playoffs would be as well. Decisions...decisions. [NY Post]
The United States have been eliminated from the WJC. But you can watch Duclair and the Canadian team tear up the Slovakians again in the semi-finals tomorrow at 8:00pm est on NHL Network. The Russians, led by Pavel Buchnevich, will take on Sweden at 4:00pm est in the other semi-final game. [IIHF]
Holy hell writing this article was hard. Where's my damn luggage?!