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Rangers coach Vigneault framing the positive

by Dan Rosen

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- New York Rangers coach Alain Vigneault is keeping the glass half-full approach as his team slogs through a tough stretch in which it has started a franchise-record nine-game homestand with just one win and four points.

"I see a lot of hard work. I see good commitment from the group," Vigneault said Sunday morning in advance of the Rangers' game against the Minnesota Wild at Madison Square Garden. "Everybody is trying to find solutions. Everyone is sticking with one another. I see a lot of signs that we're going to start winning on a more regular basis."

Vigneault is pointing specifically to the Rangers' 5-on-5 play.

After breaking down the 5-3 loss to the New York Islanders on Friday, Vigneault said the Rangers had an 11-3 advantage in scoring chances during 5-on-5 play.

The problem is the Rangers could not outscore the Islanders at even strength. Each team had a goal in a 5-on-5 situation, but the Islanders had three goals on special teams, including a pair of shorthanded goals in the first period, and an empty-net goal at the end of the game. The Rangers scored twice on the power play, but those goals were negated by the two shorthanded goals they allowed.

The first shorthanded goal was on a penalty shot by Cal Clutterbuck. Michael Grabner scored on a breakaway for the second shorthanded goal.

"We're not winning enough to make those mistakes," Rangers forward Brad Richards said. "We didn't have a lot of scoring chances [on the power play] but we had two goals. But we gave up two goals. That's just the type of time we're in right now. I don't know if that's ever happened in my career where you score two power play goals and give up two shorthanded goals. Right now we have to be prepared for everything and that's why the most simple game plan that the coaches present to us we have to stick to it. We're getting everything thrown at us now."

It doesn't appear that the Rangers' game plan for the Wild will change much from what it was against the Islanders and games previous to that.

"I'm looking for the same type of game 5-on-5," Vigneault said. "The 5-on-5 last game was one of our better ones of the year. I thought we did a lot of the right things. Obviously it's no secret we need to be better on our power play.

"Our overall game, I've looked at our stats, I've broken it down, our last six games defensively, I mean we've been real, real solid and 5-on-5 we're playing as well if not better than the opposition."

Cam Talbot will get the start in goal as Henrik Lundqvist will rest before playing Monday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Talbot is 6-2-0 with a 1.74 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. He hasn't played since Dec. 12, when he relieved Lundqvist in the first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Dec. 12.

The Rangers did not show line rushes during their morning skate Sunday, but since Vigneault was so pleased with their play at 5-on-5 the lineup might not change from the last game.

Rick Nash - Derek Stepan - Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider - Derick Brassard - Carl Hagelin

Brad Richards - J.T. Miller - Benoit Pouliot

Brian Boyle - Dominic Moore - Derek Dorsett

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

John Moore - Anton Stralman

Michael Del Zotto - Justin Falk

Cam Talbot

Henrik Lundqvist

Scratched: Taylor Pyatt

Injured: Marc Staal (concussion), Ryan Callahan (knee)


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