Live conversation as Shesterkin in, Lafreniere out for NY vs SJ

The New York Rangers conclude the west coast portion of this road trip with a game against the resurgent San Jose Sharks.  They can even up their road trip record and with a victory can go home with a winning record if they can beat the Flyers on Saturday.

Just before game time it was announced that Alexis Lafreniere has been put on the COVID protocol list and was replaced on the active roster by Lauri Pajuniemi.

  It has to be a blow for Lafreniere who was going to get a good shot as the right wing with Ryan Strome and Artemi Panarin.

It means that Filip Chytil will be moving up to that line and either Lauri Pajuniemi or Anthony Greco will get into his first game as a Ranger as right wing on the third line. Pajuniemi, 22,  is from Finland and is in his first season in North America and Greco, 28, played one game with the Panthers in 2018-19 and has played six full seasons in the AHL.

Another consideration is that the top line in Hartford was Tim Gettinger, Jonny Brodzinski and Greco so with Kris Knoblauch behind the bench it would make sense to keep them together and move Morgan Barron up to the third line.  It’s a guessing game.

The Rangers got good news on the COVID front when Igor Shesterkin was removed from the protocol.  It was a question whether he would be in goal tonight with Georgiev the likely starter.   According to reports, Shesterkin joined the team at the morning skate and it looks like he will be getting the start.

The two teams met once before this season with the Rangers winning 1-0.  This was the game that saw Igor Shesterkin sustain a lower body injury that kept him out of action for eight games.  n that game, Ryan Strome scored a first period power play goal that held up as the game winner.

Since that game, the Sharks have gone 7-6-0, but have climbed into the last wildcard spot by a point over the Calgary Flames.  The Rangers have been a little better going 8-6-1.

Projected starting lineups

Six Rangers who played against San Jose a little over a month ago will not be in tonight’s game.  This is a best guess at the lineup for tonight.  We’ll know more when they take the ice for warmups.

NEW YORK RANGERS

20 Kreider – 93 Zibanejad – 24 Kakko
10 Panarin – 16 Strome – 72 Chytil
14 McKegg – 17 Rooney – 49 Pajuniemi or 28 Greco
26 Gettinger – 47 Barron –   76 Brodzinski

55 Lindgren – 23 Fox
79 Miller – 8 Trouba
45 Schneider – 15 Nemeth

31 Shesterkin
40 Georgiev

SAN JOSE SHARKS

92 Rudolfs Balcers – 48 Tomas Hertl – 28 Timo Meier
76 Jonathan Dahlen – 39 Logan Couture – 73 Noah Gregor
11 Andrew Cogliano – 13 Nick Bonino – 83 Matthew Nieto
63 Jeffrey Viel – 26 Jasper Weatherby – 10 Nick Merkley

38 Mario Ferraro – 88 Brent Burns
24 Jayson Megna – 65 Erik Karlsson
44 Marc-Edouard Vlasic – 6 Ryan Merkley

33 Adin Hill
36 Zachary Sawchenko

Nick Bonino just came off the COVID protocol so he is a game time decision. Goalie Adin Hill will be making his four start against the Rangers.  He is 1-2 lifetime with a goals against average of 2.63 and a .907 save percentage.  He gave up just one goal in the 1-0 win for the Rangers in December.

How to watch and the live conversation

The game starts at 1030PM EST and will be televised on the MSG Network with the national feed on ESPN+.   The Devils-Islanders game will be bounced off the MSG Network to MSG+2 if they aren’t done in time for the Rangers pregame show.  The radiocast is on ESPN 98.7FM.

As usual, Blue Line Station will host a live conversation during the games, perfect for you night owls.  Feel free to weigh in as the Rangers hope to even up their road trip record in the comments section below.