It seems like the New York Rangers haven’t played in weeks. Wait, they haven‘t played a game in weeks! Tonight we get a chance to see how they will react after their mini-vacation as they get back into action and begin a schedule that will be very busy until playoffs time.
They play 35 games in 74 days , practically every other day until the end of April. Let’s hope that they got a lot of rest this month, they will need it.
Against the Bruins, the Rangers will have get over the “back from the bye week” blues that afflicted teams the last few years. So many teams lost their first game back that the NHL tried to manipulate the schedule so that bye week teams played each other in their first game back.
Not so this year as the Bruins have played three times while the Rangers have been idle, losing to Pittsburgh and Carolina and shutting out Ottawa on Saturday. In the Blueshirts favor is the fact that the B’s will be without Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron, two third of one of the best lines in hockey.
The Bruins are in fourth place in the Atlantic Division with 57 points in 46 games. The Detroit Red Wings are only seven points behind Boston, but the Bruins have four games in hand. Of all the Eastern Conference teams, the Bruins are the only team that is believed to be vulnerable to losing their playoff spot.
The teams met once this season on Black Friday in November. The Blueshirts won 5-2 on three third period goals, coming back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits. Igor Shesterkin was in net and 34 of 36 shots. Jeremy Swayman is likely to get the start tonight and he allowed four goals on 30 shots in that last game. Swayman has started twice against New York and had a shutout in his first start last season.
Igor Shesterkin has made five starts in his career against Boston with a 2-3 record and a 2.95 goals against average.
It looks like it will be a return to action for Adam Fox and Filip Chytil while Patrik Nemeth remains out and Kaapo Kakko is on Injured Reserve for another month. Coach Gerard Gallant would not say who was replacing Nemeth on the third defense pair, though he had said earlier this week that he would have no problem using an all-rookie third pair in Zac Jones and Braden Schneider.
New York Rangers
20 Kreider– 93 Zibanejad –13 Lafrenière
10 Panarin– 16 Strome – 21 Goodrow
29 Hunt – 72 Chytil – 15 Gauthier
14 McKegg – 17 Rooney – 75 Reaves
55 Lindgren – 23 Fox
79 Miller – 8 Trouba
6 Jones or 25 Hajek – 45 Schneider
71 Taylor Hall – 56 Erik Haula – 88 David Pastrnak
11 Trent Federic – 13 Charlie Coyle – 12 Craig Smith
74 Jake DeBrusk – 23 Jack Studnicka – 17 Nick Foligno
81 Anton Blidh – 92 Tomas Nosek – 20 Curtis Lazar
6 Mike Reilly – 73 Charlie McAvoy
48 Matt Grzelcyk– 25 Brandon Carlo
28 Derek Forbort – 75 Connor Clifton
1 Jeremy Swayman
35 Linus Ullmark
Though without Marchand and Bergeron who are first and third in team scoring, the Bruins still have David Pastrnak and Taylor Hall. Pastrnak leads Boston with 24 goals while Hall is fourth in scoring with 31 points.
How to watch and the live conversation
Tonight’s game will be on the MSG Network with the radio call on ESPN 98.7FM. Puck drop is 7pm. The national telecast will be on ESPN+.
Please join in tonight and talk about the game. There will certainly be a lot to discuss though we won’t have Brad Marchand to pick on. Share your thoughts with your fellow Rangers fans in the comments section below.