It’s the final game of the road trip, and the Rangers are looking to sweep it. Four wins from four after beating the Seattle Kraken in the darkened Climate Pledge Arena, the Calgary Flames in a comeback fashion, shutting out the Edmonton Oilers, and topping the Vancouver Canucks in a special teams affair, the Winnipeg Jets are the final hurdle in this long road trip out west.
This Winnipeg team is full of former Rangers and players that could hurt the Blueshirts tonight. Vladislav Namestnikov, Morgan Barron, and Neal Pionk will all seek revenge against a team that decided to go in a direction that didn’t involve them. Players trying to show an original Six franchise that they were wrong to move on from them is always worth watching.
But the Rangers have a few former Jets of their own. Rangers captain Jacob Trouba is a former Jet. It was a pretty expensive acquisition, costing Pionk, among other future assets, as the Rangers sought to add some physicality to their blueline in their new captain. But Trouba isn’t the major player returning to Winnipeg tonight, not by a long shot.
Blake Wheeler will return to the frozen tundras of Winnipeg for the first time since the club opted to buy him out this summer. Expect a video tribute for the Rangers third-line winger at some point tonight. As the last piece that could be tied back to the days the franchise spent in Atlanta, Wheeler had a deep connection with the organization and was a constant for fans before and after the relocation.
New York Rangers
Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Kaapo Kakko
Artemi Panarin – Filip Chytil – Alexis Lafreniere
Will Cuylle – Vincent Trochek – Blake Wheeler
Barclay Goodrow – Nick Bonino – Jimmy Vesey
Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba
Erik Gustafsson – Braden Schneider
Kyle Connor – Mark Scheifele – Alex Iafallo
Cole Perfetti – Vladislav Namestnikov – Nikolaj Ehlers
Nino Niederreiter – Adam Lowry – Mason Appleton
Morgan Barron – Rasmus Kupari – David Gustafsson
Josh Morrissey – Dylan DeMelo
Brenden Dillon – Neal Pionk
Dylan Samberg – Nate Schmidt
This is going to be a 7:30 p.m. puck drop. There are a ton of different storylines heading into this game, with former players for both teams on the other bench now. Can the Rangers continue their blistering start to the season, or will the Jets end the Rangers’ run of wins? Only time will tell.