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SLY WILLIAMS
11-25-2013, 11:08 AM
Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan confident goals will come for Rangers top line

TAMPA — If you build it, goals will come. That’s what Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan are telling themselves, “Field of Dreams” style, on a top line that has been encouraging for the Rangers but unproductive, at least in a statistical sense.

The trio has turned in three consecutive strong performances together since Nash’s return from a concussion that had sidelined him six weeks, even though they’ve only scored once in that span. Their offensive zone time has helped the Rangers (12-11-0) create and sustain momentum during wins in Dallas and Nashville, and they could be on the cusp of breaking out in Monday night’s clash with the Lightning (14-8-1).

“We’re there. We’re close,” Callahan said Saturday night after a 2-0 shutout win in Nashville. “After every period, we’ve looked at each other and (said) we’re right there almost getting one. It’s just a matter of one going in the net for us, and then I think it’s gonna open up. We’re getting the opportunities, we’re getting the chances.

“I’ve had a couple right on the doorstep. It’s fun playing with those two guys. They see the ice so well. I’m just trying to get to the front of the net, get some pucks for them.”

The line’s only goal the last three games was Nash’s swooping first-period, power-play break-in off Callahan’s primary assist in Dallas on Thursday. Still, Richards and Co. have swung both of the last two games in New York’s favor with pivotal shifts.

With the game tied 1-1 in Dallas Thursday, they turned the tide with a solid forecheck on the final shift of the second period and opened the third period with more puck possession.

Chris Kreider then scored on the very next shift. Saturday night, in a 0-0 game with Nashville in the final minute of the first period, Richards’ line once again stole momentum with offensive zone time. Often, the consistent offense they created was the Rangers’ best defense in allowing only 17 Predators shots on goal, a season low for a Blueshirts opponent.

“We had good long shifts in the ‘O’ zone where we wore them out and they didn’t have a lot of speed going through the neutral zone," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said Saturday. “We were able to stay up pretty good. We’ve talked a lot about that, our transition game and our gaps and spending time in their zone, and we did that very consistently (Saturday) night, which is a good sign.”

The second half of Alain Vigneault’s top six, meanwhile, has been opportunistic in helping the Rangers win without Richards’ line filling the stat sheet. Derek Stepan (goal, assist), Kreider (goal, assist) and Mats Zuccarello (two assists) have combined for six points the past three games.

Richards, Callahan and Nash combined for 10 shots on goal against Nashville, and Callahan should have scored on a beautiful, through-the-legs, backward pass from behind the net by Richards in the second period. They hope to convert those chances in Tampa on Monday after Sunday’s off-day.

“That was a great look,” Callahan said of Richards’ pass. “I put (the shot) where I wanted it. I don’t think the goalie sees it, but it hits his blocker. That’s the way it’s going right now. It happens, but we’ve just got to keep working.”http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/hockey/rangers/rangers-top-line-confident-goals-article-1.1527456

Redfish
11-25-2013, 05:03 PM
With Callahan playing LW on the 1st line, that shifts one need to a goal scoring 3rd line RW. I think Dorsett has been playing 3rd line RW as of late.

I have mixed views around Hagelin no longer being paired with Nash, but tough to argue against getting our captain top line minutes.

nyr1980
11-25-2013, 05:50 PM
With Callahan playing LW on the 1st line, that shifts one need to a goal scoring 3rd line RW. I think Dorsett has been playing 3rd line RW as of late.

I have mixed views around Hagelin no longer being paired with Nash, but tough to argue against getting our captain top line minutes.

There are many who would argue that ideally Hags is a 3rd liner, which I wouldnt mind. But then they need a winger. If they're sticking with their current centermen, then they need a winger that can score, which is better as it's easier to find than a centerman.

SLY WILLIAMS
11-25-2013, 06:57 PM
I think we have 8 guys who can score for the top 9 slots. I do not think it is important which line is called 1st, 2nd or 3rd. I think we should just match guys up best based on abilities and chemistry not who has the biggest name or even a position like captain. The first 3 lines will play around the same amount as units. Its the PP and PK that will make some individual minutes different.

bsi
11-25-2013, 08:00 PM
I think we have 8 guys who can score for the top 9 slots. I do not think it is important which line is called 1st, 2nd or 3rd. I think we should just match guys up best based on abilities and chemistry not who has the biggest name or even a position like captain. The first 3 lines will play around the same amount as units. Its the PP and PK that will make some individual minutes different.

I dont care how they are numbered either but Nash is going to be playing with Richards or Stepan same goes for Callahan. And whatever lines they are on are gonna get the bulk of the minutes. Those guys arent here to play on lesser lines, if they end up there it looks bad on both the franchise for paying them big money and them not producing and as well fans will be expecting more from them. Say whatever anyone wants but Richards, Nash, Stepan, Callahan and whoever is playing with them will get the bulk of the minutes, as they should. The others, Brassard, Hagelin, Kreider and Zuccarello will all have to work hard to be on with those 4 players on the top minute lines and if not will be on the 3rd or if you would prefer the lesser minute line. Line numbers mean little its true but there are gonna be two top minute lines and a 3rd lesser and a 4th even less than that. Has nothing to do with style of play because your best players are going to be getting the bulk of the ice. So label them however you want our top 6 should get the bulk of the ice time each night, its up to Kreider, Hagelin, Brass and Zucs if they are top 6 or outside of that as dictated by their play at both ends of the ice.