The New York Rangers are coming off their best game of the season, a complete 5-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now, they need to show the killer instinct and follow that up with a complete win over the Buffalo Sabres.
The first two games between these two teams have been absolutely nuts, so this is a big game. More on that in a bit.
The Sabres have shown new life now that the have traded Jack Eichel and the players they got in the deal are starting to contribute. Alex Tuch and Peyton Krebs joined the team at the end of December and the Sabres have been steadily improving and are 7-3-1 in their last 11 games.
The Sabres are still far from a playoff contender. They have the 26th best offense averaging 2.63 goals per game in the NHL and the 26th worst defense allowing 3.46 goals per game. While their record has been good, they still surrendered six goals to Edmonton and Florida in the last two weeks.
This will be the final meeting with Buffalo this season and the Rangers take an unbelievable 15-2 record against Atlantic Division teams into this game. The Blueshirts have lost only three times in regulation in the last 18 games against the Sabres.
So far this season
The Rangers have played two pretty wacky games with the Sabres this season. In their first meeting on November 21 at the Garden, the Rangers won 5-4 on a goal by Ryan Lindgren with only seventh tenths of a second left in the game. The Sabres had chased Alexandar Georgiev who allowed four goals in the first two periods as he was replaced by Igor Shesterkin. It had been an seesaw game with the teams exchanging leads as Buffalo led four times and the Rangers once.
The second meeting of the season was on December 10, a 2-1 road win for the Rangers. The Rangers won with Alexandar Georgiev in net and took a 2-0 lead into the third period, a lead they actually blew, but benefited from an officiating error by the situation room.
The Rangers were clinging to a 2-1 lead when Buffalo scored with 57 seconds left and their goalie pulled. The goal was overturned by the Toronto situation room for offside, a decision the league later said was an error. The puck had entered the zone with a Sabres player offside, but he touched up before Buffalo gained control of the puck. It was bizarre.
So, two games this season that should have gone to overtime, but didn’t. The standings would be pretty different if the Blueshirts had lost both of those games in extra time.
Projected starting lineups
The same skaters will take the ice against the Sabres that played against the Penguins. Considering Friday’s win, why would Gerard Gallant mess with success? The one change will be in goal as Alexandar Georgiev gets the start, his third in the last seven games. That means he will have started all three games against Buffalo this season.
NEW YORK RANGERS
20 Kreider – 93 Zibanejad – 77 Vatrano
23 Panarin – 16 Strome -18 Copp
13 Lafrenière – 72 Chytil – 21 Goodrow
|64 Motte – 76 Brodzinski – 29 Hunt
55 Lindgren – 23 Fox
79 Miller – 8 Trouba
15 Nemeth – 45 Schneider
53 Jeff Skinner -72 Tage Thompson – 89 Alex Tuch
19 Peyton Krebs -24 Dylan Cozens -29 Vinnie Hinostroza
74 Rasmus Asplund – 37 Casey Mittelstadt – 71 Victor Olofsson
28 Zemgus Girgensons -20 Cody Eakin -21 Kyle Okposo
26 Rasmus Dahlin – 10 Henry Jokiharju
23 Mattias Samuelsson -13 Mark Pysyk
33 Colin Miller – 78 Jacob Bryson
41 Craig Anderson
31 Dustin Tokarski
Craig Anderson is supposed to start for Buffalo, his first appearance against the Rangers this season. He has played very well against the Rangers his entire career with a 13-8-3 record and a scintillating 1.88 goals against average and .939 save percentage.
How to watch and the live conversation
Game time is 5pm and the telecast will be on MSG+ with the national live stream on ESPN+. Very considerate of them to get the game done before the Oscars, but it’s at the same time as St. Peter’s-North Carolina.
Blue Line Station’s live conversation is active and you can join your fellow Ranger fans as we hope for another solid outing. The Penguins are taking on the Detroit Red Wings at home so this is a game the Rangers really need to win.
Join the live chat in the comments section below.