The New York Rangers' Unconventional Lineup Isn't Changing—For Now 1
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 7: Tony Deangelo #77 of the New York Rangers skates with the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on October 7, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario. The Maple Leafs defeated the Rangers 8-5. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

New York Rangers fans should be prepared to see a lot of lineups featuring 11 forwards and seven defensemen for the foreseeable future.

New York Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault had been changing lines and defensive pairings as he continues to try and find the right combinations for success. Vigneault has frequently used 11 forwards and seven defensemen with some success. Last night was the fifth time this season the team has used that combination. Will the Rangers continue to do this?

There are some advantages going with 11 forwards in a game. It gives Vigneault an opportunity to get his top forwards more ice time. Since the open spot is normally a wing position, the coach can put just about place any player he wants in that spot. Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, Rick Nash and J.T. Miller can be double-shifted at the coaches discretion, which should lead to more scoring opportunities as they will be more involved in the game.

New York Rangers

Per the New York Post‘s Brett Cyrgalis, Vigneault believes this gives the Rangers their “best chance” to win.


According to Newsday‘s Steve Zipay, Vigneault acknowledged that Paul Carey and Adam Cracknell are not pure centers, which adds to his desire to stick with the current setup.

By going with seven defensemen, Anthony DeAngelo has become the odd man out of the rotation, even though he is on the bench for many of the games. DeAngelo has only been seeing the ice when the Rangers are on the power play, with no even-strength ice time at all. It’s a very unusual situation, for both the player and the coach. In the past, the Rangers have used that seventh defenseman as a forward. That hasn’t been the case in 2017.

Per Zipay, General manager Jeff Gorton didn’t rule out the possibility of calling up a center from Hartford.

Gorton could consider a trade to help rectify the center problems and the abundance of defensemen that the team is carrying. But as Larry Brooks of the New York Post wrote yesterday, a big trade right now is unlikely.

It’s still early in the season and most general managers don’t want to concede that their team may be in trouble so early into the year. The Rangers could consider pairing a defenseman—Steven Kampfer or Nick Holden—along with a Rick Nash or another top six forward to make a deal for a quality center, but right now probably isn’t the best time for the team to consider such a move.

Though the Rangers have been struggling since the season has begun, they have registered a point in three straight games, (an overtime loss to the Pens, shootout loss to the Islanders, and a win over the Predators), so things have begun to improve. The coaching staff will continue to do whatever they need to do to get wins and points every night.

The Rangers need to be realistic. This setup won’t work for the whole season. Eventually, they will need to address their problems and stop using the wait and see approach. The team has to go to a 12 forward, six defensemen lineup to compete for wins. Vigneault cannot keep preaching team chemistry and then go with this unorthodox lineup game in and game out.

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