GREENBURGH, N.Y. — When the Rangers stepped on the MSG Training Center ice, Alain Vigneault had put the puzzle together a different way, mixing pieces across his four lines.
His team is on a 1-4-1 slide, scoring only 10 times, including only one goal in each of the last two games. Second-line center Derek Stepan is out four to six weeks with two broken ribs. So Vig neault made his practice moves Saturday, most notably lifting promising center Oscar Lindberg off the third line to work with Rick Nash from the first line and moving Chris Kreider from the second line to be their left wing.
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But their coach wouldn’t commit to the new configuration for Sunday night, when the Rangers (17-7-3) face Ottawa at the Garden.
“This was just a look I wanted to see,” Vigneault said. “I’m not 100 percent sure we’re going to go this way. But I do think Oscar has played well and seems to feel more and more comfortable with more responsibilities. If we do decide to go this route, those are two pretty good players that might be a good fit for him.”
Lindberg has 10 goals, tied for the lead among rookies entering Saturday’s play.
Instead of Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello working with Nash, they were together, with Kevin Hayes on their left. Dominic Moore centered J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast, and Jarret Stoll centered Tanner Glass and Viktor Stalberg.
“We’re trying to find our game as a team and Coach decided to mix it up,” Brassard said. “Everyone’s for it. If it’s going to help the team, we have to make it work.
“We’re in a tough stretch right now. We just have to make more plays and be more confident. Right now, maybe that’s the issue. Our confidence is maybe a little low. That explains why we’re not winning a lot of games. We’re looking forward to and trying to make plays and use the defensemen and try to get in front of the net. We just have to compete a little harder.”
Several Rangers are looking to get going offensively. Kreider, for instance, has only four goals. “There have been some games that are better than others and I get my chances,” he said. “So what happened happened, and we’re on to the next ones.”
The defensemen also have contributed to the drought. Vig neault called out Marc Staal, Dan Girardi and Dan Boyle.
“Our transition, our breakouts — you start with Marc, you start with Dan, you start with Boyler,” Vigneault said. “We need those guys to handle the puck better.”