Filip Chytil will play his first game for the New York Rangers in over five weeks as the team gets an important piece of their offense back. Igor Shesterkin will start for the first time since losing to Philadelphia last Thursday. The Rangers will try to get back on the winning track after a desultory loss to the Bruins on Sunday. But all eyes will be on Sabres center Jack Eichel as trade rumors continue to swirl.
There is no evidence that any kind of Eichel deal is in the works and much of the speculation is based on the Rangers’ need for a number one center, but if he is available, you can be sure that he Rangers will be players in the Eichel sweepstakes.
We’ll save the Eichel chatter for another time. It’ s more timely to talk about how important this game is to the Rangers. The Blueshirts sit in sixth place in the East with 17 points. They are eight points out of a playoff spot and the five teams ahead of them are exactly who you would expect, Washington, Boston, Islander, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. They Rangers need to get past two of those teams to make the postseason.
By Saturday night, the Rangers will have played the Sabres once and the Devils twice. Meanwhile, the Capitals will be battling Boston and Philadelphia play the Penguins three times, while the Islanders take on the Sabres and Devils. It’s an opportunity to make up some ground on Boston, Philadelphia and Washington so when the Rangers get to their “four point” games next week against Boston and Pittsburgh they make up some ground or at least stay even.
Beware the Sabres. True, they have lost seven of their last nine, but they were embarrassed over the weekend, getting shut out twice by the Flyers and they are desperate for a win. The Rangers need to get on the board early and build a lead.
Besides Chytil’s return, the other good news is that Kaapo Kakko is off the list and should be game ready by Thursday night against the Devils. The other COVID headline is that the newest list shows Sidney Crosby on it. If he is on the list for the usual ten days, that means he will miss the two games against the Rangers Sunday and Tuesday.
New York Rangers
13 Lafrenière– 93 Zibanejad – 89 Buchnevich
20 Kreider – 16 Strome – 43 Blackwell
17 Rooney – 72 Chytil -12 Gauthier
48 Lemieux – 21 Howden– 33 Di Giuseppe
55 Lindgren – 23 Fox
79 Miller – 42 Smith
27 Johnson – 25 Hajek –
68 Victor Olofsson – 9 Jack Eichel- 23 Sam Reinhart
4 Taylor Hall – 12 Eric Staal – 21 Kyle Okposo
13 Tobias Reider – 20 Cody Eakin – 24 Dylan Cozens
53 Jeff Skinner – 27 Curtis Lazar – 38 Riley Sheahan
26 Rasmus Dahlin – 55 Rasmus Ristolainen
62 Brandon Montour – 10 Henri Jokiharju
78 Jacob Bryson – 33 Colin Miller
40 Carter Hutton
34 Jonas Johansson
Join the live conversation!
The live thread is now open on Blue Line Station. Talk about the game with your fellow Ranger fans as wewatch every move made by Jack Eichel. The game starts at 7pm and can be seen on MSG2 with the radiocast on WEPN 1050 AM.