The New York Rangers are less than a week away from starting the second season and they take on the Montreal Canadiens in a game that doesn’t have lot of meaning for either team. The Canadiens have clinched last place in the East and are worst in the league by two points over the Arizona Coyotes in the race for the right to draft Shane Wright, the consensus top pick. They have absolutely no incentive to win except for pride.
The Rangers primary goal is to stay healthy so they will be fielding a team of depth players as a number of regulars will get the night off. One incentive to win is that the team has no lost more than two in a row in regulation all season and they certainly don’t want to lose their third in a row tonight.
Individually, Chris Kreider will be in the lineup as he continues his quest to tie Jaromir Jagr’s team record 54 goals. Alexandar Georgiev will be looking to win his eighth start in a row.
Gerard Gallant said that Panarin and Copp both could have played tonight and that Kakko could have played against Carolina, but they are trying to be cautious. He wouldn’t speculate on who would be playing on Friday against the Capitals.
The Canadiens are stumbling to the finish line. Martin St. Louis took over on February 9 and after losing their first three games, the team went on a spree, winning seven of the next eight. They came back to earth and are 5-15-4 in their last 24 games and have lost nine in a row coming into tonight’s meeting.
Projected starting lineups
The scratches look to be Artemi Panarin, Andrew Copp, Mika Zibanejadup front, replaced by Greg McKegg, Jonny Brodzinski and Julien Gauthier. Kaapo Kakko makes his return to the lineup after missing four games with a lower body injury.
On defense, the Adam Fox-Ryan Lindgren tandem get the night off along with Jacob Trouba so Zac Jones was called up from Hartford while Libor Hajek will play for only the third time in 34 games. Justin Braun will play alongside K’Andre Miller.
NEW YORK RANGERS
20 Kreider – 16 Strome – 77 Vatrano
13 Lafreniere – 72 Chytil – 24 Kakko
14 McKegg -76 Brodzinski -15 Gauthier
21 Goodrow – 17 Rooney – 75 Reaves
79 Miller – 61 Braun
12 Nemeth – 45 Schneider
6 Jones – 25 Libor Hajek
68 Mike Hoffman – 14 Nick Suzuki – 22 Cole Caufield
32 Rem Pitlick – 71 Jake Evans – 11 Brendan Gallagher
24 Tyler Pitlick – 28 Christian Dvorak – 17 Josh Anderson
Laurent Dauphin — Ryan Poehling — Michael Pezzetta
44 Joel Edmundson – 26 Jeff Petry
27 Alexander Romanov – 58 David Savard
54 Jordan Harris – 20 Chris Wideman
35 Sam Montembeault
30 Cayden Primeau
Sam Montembeault should get the start in goal for the Canadiens. He won his only start against the Rangers as a Florida Panther in November 2019. He allowed five goals and won in a shootout over Henrik Lundqvist. Frank Vatrano was successful in his attempt as a Panther that game.
How to watch and the live conversation
Game time is a half hour later than normal, with puck drop scheduled for 7:30pm. The telecast will be on th MSG Network with the live stream on ESPN+.
The word is that the Rangers will honor the memory of Guy Lafleur tonight, appropriate since he was such an iconic Hab besides playing that one memorable season in New York.
Blue Line Station’s live chat is up and running and you can join the conversation and talk about the game, the players, the playoffs or anything that strikes your fancy. You can join in the comments section below.