New York Rangers: Opening Night is Here As Rangers Visit Sabres

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 10: Jack Quinn #22 of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on April 10, 2023 in New York City. The Sabres defeated the Rangers 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 10: Jack Quinn #22 of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on April 10, 2023 in New York City. The Sabres defeated the Rangers 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 10: Jack Quinn #22 of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on April 10, 2023 in New York City. The Sabres defeated the Rangers 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 10: Jack Quinn #22 of the Buffalo Sabres skates against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on April 10, 2023 in New York City. The Sabres defeated the Rangers 3-2 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

As the sun rises on the beautiful concrete jungle of New York City, the greatest sport in the world will return to the greatest city in the country tonight. It’s time for Rangers hockey once again as the New York Rangers prepare to start off their season at the KeyBank Center in Buffalo as they will fight the Sabres in their season opener.

After the disappointing end to last season in game seven in the first round at the hands of the New Jersey Devils, this roster and this organization are going to be looking to make amends. It’s the Stanley Cup that remains the end goal for the 22 players on this roster as well as the coaches, management, and backroom staff that is employed by one of the most iconic franchises in this sport.

It’s a difficult task to begin with an upstart Sabres roster. A young core bursting with goal-scoring talent will provide a strong opponent for the Blueshirts to open the season against. With an exciting young core and hunger to quench a playoff drought that is entering its 15th season, this Sabres roster can cause a lot of problems for the groups it is trying to pass.

For the Rangers, this has to be a game you do not look past. As a group, the Rangers are probably better. It’s close between the skaters, at least, but the thing the Rangers have that Buffalo does not is the best goalie in the league. Before you scream “Andrei Vasilevskiy” at me, he’s hurt, so he’s not in the league right now. It’s Igor’s show, and Igor Shesterkin is a difference-maker. We all know that.

Will Cuylle will be playing in his fifth NHL game tonight as the rookie made the roster out of training camp. The 60th overall pick in 2020 will be trying to prove that he is worth the gamble from the organization to give him that position full-time over someone like Brennan Othmann, who took Cuylle right to the wire for a spot in the end.

It looks like it’ll be the same lineup that has been practicing all preseason long. That means Zachary Jones and Jimmy Vesey are on the outside looking in. There will be chances for both players to get back in the lineup down the road, but it makes sense here to run the lines that this coaching staff has been employing wherever possible.

This will also be Peter Laviolette’s first game as New York Rangers bench boss. Laviolette is 30 wins behind the Al Arbor for 7th all-time among coaches and will be looking to pass the Islanders’ iconic coach this season with their cross-city rivals. With one cup under his belt already from his time in Carolina, Laviolette is looking to make it two with the Rangers.

Projected Lineups

New York Rangers

Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Kaapo Kakko
Artemi Panarin – Filip Chytil – Alexis Lafreniere
Will Cuylle – Vincent Trocheck – Blake Wheeler
Barclay Goodrow – Nick Bonino – Tyler Pitlick

Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba
Erik Gustafsson – Braden Schneider

Igor Shesterkin
Jonathan Quick

Buffalo Sabres

Jeff Skinner – Tage Thompson – Alex Tuch
JJ Peterka – Dylan Cozens – Victor Olofsson
Jordan Greenway – Casey Mittelstadt – Zach Benson
Zemgus Girgensons – Peyton Krebs – Kyle Okposo
Mattias Samuelsson- Rasmus Dahlin
Owen Power – Henri Jokiharju
Erik Johnson – Connor Clifton

Devon Levi
Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

Puck Drop

This game starts at 7 PM Eastern. The MSG Network will carry both feeds of this game, with ESPN and Sportsnet having feeds of their own. KeyBank Center in Buffalo, New York, will be the destination for the opening night of the Rangers 2023-24 season. What better way to start a season than with two points and a tally in the win column?