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New Look Lines for Tonight's Match With 'Canes

by Matthew Calamia / New York Rangers

A combination of losing Derek Stepan and three losses in a row has led to some new lines for Alain Vigneault and the Rangers ahead of tonight's match with the Carolina Hurricanes at The Garden.

While the Derick Brassard unit will remain in tact, Kevin Hayes will center J.T. Miller and Viktor Stalberg, while Emerson Etem will slide down to the fourth line alongside Jarret Stoll and Dominic Moore. One completely new line is Oscar Lindberg between Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast.

"[I'm] just trying to see what the lines we have this morning if we can be very responsible defensively and maybe [make] better decisions with the puck to give us a good chance to play a good game tonight," Vigneault told reporters.

The head coach said the team's "execution is off right now," starting in the defensive zone. He said that there were too many turnovers in their own end and in the neutral zone in Saturday's 3-0 loss to the Flyers.

While Lindberg and Fast have played together this season, the addition of Kreider to the line could give it a new dimension.

"Adding Kreids to our line obviously adds a lot of speed and a lot of power," Lindberg told BlueshirtsUntied.com after the team's morning skate. "I think that's going to be good for us. Just try and keep playing and use his speed. He's a fast player. He can create a lot of chances."

Lindberg said he and Kreider played together briefly in Hartford at the start of the 2013-14 season before Kreider was recalled to New York. Lindberg said he does not expect any carryover chemistry between the two, but said that he knows Kreider's game well enough to know what to expect.

According to stats.hockeyanalysis.com, Lindberg has played just 5:17 of even strength with Kreider this season. He made the most of it, though, scoring a goal with three shots on net.

Fast, meanwhile, has experience playing with both players, most recently this weekend alongside Lindberg and Miller. Vigneault has also used Fast with Kreider and Stepan earlier this year and even during last year's postseason.

Fast has a goal and two assists in 88:33 of five-on-five with Kreider, as well as an assist in 40:44 of five-on-five with Lindberg this season.

The one personnel change for tonight's game is the insertion of defenseman Dan Boyle for Dylan McIlrath, who will be a healthy scratch after playing back-to-back games in Boston Friday and at home Saturday.

McIlrath, who has appeared in six games this season, has played well, especially physically, in his chances this season. On Friday he rocked Boston's Landon Ferraro and fought Matt Belesky after his unpenalized hit on Stepan, which left the center with two broken ribs that will sideline him for four-to-six weeks.

He followed that up with a big hit on the Flyers' Nick Schultz, which led to a fight with Luke Schenn.

Vigneault said the opponent was a big deciding factor in dressing Boyle, who has four assists in 16 games.

"Oppositin, power play, a couple things went into my thinking there, and that's what we're going to do tonight," Vigneault said.

In goal it will be Henrik Lundqvist against Cam Ward.

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