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Rangers look to gain ground in division despite injuries Live

Derick Brassard, right, celebrates his third-period goal with Derek Dorsett, left, during a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden.
 (Nov. 6, 2013) Photo by Jim McIsaac 
by Casey Musarra


With two points tonight, the Rangers could climb to within three points of the idle Penguins, who lead the Metropolitan Division, but it won’t be a walk on the beach when the Rangers host Florida after the Knicks game at Madison Square Garden tonight.

They will still be without Rick Nash, who will miss his 14th game since suffering a concussion on Oct. 8, center Dominic Moore (strained oblique) and Taylor Pyatt (concussion against Columbus). None of them skated with the team on Sunday morning in Westchester, although Nash and Moore went on the ice afterward for conditioning drills and shots at Cam Talbot, who will back up Henrik Lundqvist, who has allowed just six goals in his last five starts. Nothing official, but Moore could be ready for Saturday’s game in Montreal. As reported Saturday, Nash has a ways to go.

The Panthers (3-10-4), who lost to Ottawa 3-2 last night, are playing hard and trying to impress their new coaching staff, including head coach Peter Horachuk, former Devil John Madden and Brian Skrudland, said Rangers coach Alain Vigneault.

"I knew Barry Trotz (in Nashville) quite well, and he (Horachuk) was his right-hand man for eight years,” Vigneault said after the skate. “He’s a real good coach; was in charge of the power play and penalty killing. … He’s a solid coach, I watched their game yesterday, obviously they’re trying to be a little bit more aggressive right now in the way they play, Ds pinching, a little more involved, a little harder on the forecheck, had three fights. It was a good game; guys are trying to show a new staff what they can do, so we’ve got to be ready."

Brandon Mashinter is in the lineup for his fifth game, subbing for Pyatt on the. fourth line with Brian Boyle and J. T. Miller, to start. “Mash is a depth player that brings a physical element,” said
 “I’ve seen improvement. What I see is a young man that works real hard, and he brings a physical dimension to our team that we need, so he’ll get another opportunity tonight.

Vigneault would prefer to use that fourth trio more, but “a couple games, we lost players early, some games we got behind so early that you try to play your offensive players a little bit more; one game I think Mash had four minutes and the other game was our first possible home win, so I didn’t play him that much. I usually do play four lines, but for the most part I think I’ve spread the minutes around fairly well with the 11 guys I’ve been using more on a regular basis. We played those nine games in 15 nights, that’s a lot of hockey.”

In the last nine games, the penalty kill has been superb, killing 27 of 31 opportunities, lifting the team to 15th overall in the league, which is impressive because for parts of the young season they have been without injured forwards Ryan Callahan, Carl Hagelin and Dom Moore, and tonight and beyond, will not have Pyatt.

Vigneault said he likes what Mats Zuccarello has been doing shorthanded, and is always looking for duos “who are comfortable with each other and can read off one another; you’re always more effective when you can do that. Because of the guys who’ve been in and out of our lineup; it
seems all of the guys who’ve been out of our lineup — except for Nasher — have been guys I can use to kill penalties, so it makes it a little bit more challenging.
But Ulf (Samuelsson) has done a real solid job of installing the principles that we want to expound and we’ll keep working on it. Zuccarello’s a player I tried four of five games ago, and he’s worked out very well for us.


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