When Martin St. Louis was acquired one week ago by the New York Rangers, it was clear that he was going to play with his buddy Brad Richards. Everyone thought that St. Louis would jump right in with Richards and Carl Hagelin and that there would be no issues with chemistry. The last couple of games have shown that the Rangers might have been wrong to think that.
The Rangers’ offense sputtered last night in an ugly 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. The unit looked horrible and completely out of sync, and the way the line of St. Louis, Richards and Hagelin played is cause for real concern.
The line of Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello and Benoit Pouliot has been the Rangers’ most consistent line all season. They have great chemistry, and that line should not be touched. The top line of Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and Rick Nash has been very inconsistent.
Rangers coach Alain Vigneault is known to not juggle lines. The current lines have been together for the past 30 games (Ryan Callahan was with Richards and Hagelin before he was traded for St. Louis). Vigneault has to do something to the top two lines.
Richards and St. Louis should definitely stay together, but Hagelin should be removed from that line. The two just haven’t gotten used to each other, and Vigneault doesn’t have time to feel it out. The Rangers are in the middle of a playoff race and need to get things clicking again.
So I propose that the Rangers put all of their top guns on the first line. Richards, Nash and St. Louis should anchor the Rangers’ top line. Nash would have two bonafide playmakers to work with. That leaves Hagelin with Stepan and Kreider. Stepan and Kreider play well together, and the speed on the outside would cause problems for opposing teams.
When the Rangers traded for St. Louis, they knew that it would take some time for him to get acclimated, but it has already been four games and things aren’t clicking. Vigneault has to make some changes or else the offense will continue to struggle.