Live conversation as the Rangers fight for 1st place

Mar 20, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafrenière (13) and Carolina Hurricanes right wing Jesper Fast (71) battle over the loose puck during the first period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 20, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; New York Rangers left wing Alexis Lafrenière (13) and Carolina Hurricanes right wing Jesper Fast (71) battle over the loose puck during the first period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /
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It’s a battle for first place in the Metropolitan Division as the New York Rangers take on the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden.  With a win, New York will be tied with Carolina in points, though the Hurricanes own the regulation and overtime wins tiebreaker.

Since the Blueshirts blanked the Canes on March 20, Carolina has been good, but not great going 6-4-2.  The Rangers have gone 7-2-1.  No matter what, Carolina is still one of the top teams statistically in the NHL and they always give the Rangers fits when they play.

If Igor Shesterkin is in net, and all indications are they he will be, it will be a showdown between the two best goalies in the NHL.  How close are Igor Shesterkin and Frederik Andersen?  They are tied for the best goals against average with 2.07.  Shesterkin has the better save percentage at .935.  Andersen is fourth with .925. They both have 34 wins on the season and they each have four shutouts this season. When it comes to the Vezina Trophy this season, it may very will hinge on who plays better in the two games the Rangers and Hurricanes meet each other as the season winds down.

So far this season

The Rangers haven’t exactly dominated the Hurricanes this season, though they have split the first two games, both in Raleigh.

On January 21, the two teams met for the first time this season and it was a one-sided contest with the Rangers unable to handle Carolina’s transition game and heavy forecheck.  The Canes took a 3-0 lead and the Rangers got within two goals late, but fell 5-3.

The Rangers shut out the Hurricanes 2-0 on March 20 behind the goaltending of Alexandar Georgiev who made 44 saves.  Carolina was dominant again in this game, but the heroics of Georgiev stole the game for New York.

The playoff picture

For Ranger fans, this is the big game, but we’ll be keeping an eye on the Penguins who are visiting the Islanders while the Capitals host the Flyers.  Only  four points separate those teams and the Caps have two games in hand.

Since the Rangers could finish in first place, the first wild card spot is worth keeping an eye on.  Boston trails Tampa by one point in the fight for third place in the Atlantic Division. Tampa is in Dallas while Boston hosts the Blues, both very tough opponents fighting for playoff positioning.  It’s a busy night for scoreboard watching.

Projected starting lineups

Filip Chytil remains out of the lineup with an upper body injury, though he is very close to returning.  Igor Shesterkin has faced the Hurricanes once in the regular season, winning while allowing only two goals. He did lose the third and final game of the 2020 Stanley Cup Qualifier, allowing three goals.

NEW YORK RANGERS

20 Kreider – 93 Zibanejad – 77 Vatrano
23 Panarin – 16 Strome -18 Copp
13 Lafreniere – 21 Goodrow – 24 Kakko
29 Hunt – 17 Rooney – 75 Reaves

55 Lindgren – 23 Fox
79 Miller – 8 Trouba
61 Braun – 45 Schneider

31 Shesterkin
40 Georgiev

CAROLINA HURRICANES

37 Andrei Svechnikov – 20 Sebastian Aho – 24 Seth Jarvis
86 Teuvo Teravainen  – 16 Vincent Trocheck –88 Martin Necas
21 Nino Niederreiter – 11 Jordan Staal – 71 Jesper Fast
48 Jordan Martinook – Max Domi -78 Steven Lorentz

74 Jaccob Slavin – 77 Tony DeAngelo
76 Brady Skjei – 22 Brett Pesce
7 Brendan Smith – 25 Ethan Bear

31 Frederik Andersen
32 Antti Raanta

Jesperi Kotkaniemi is out with a lower body injury.  Brendan Smith gets the start after being a healthy scratch on Sunday.

How to watch and the live conversation

The games starts at 7pm on the MSG Network with the live stream on ESPN+.

Blue Line Station’s live conversation is active now and you can talk about the game using the comments section below.   Please join in!