The post-letter era begins now.
One day after strongly implying a trade sale would soon commence, the Rangers hit the ice to take on the Calgary Flames tonight at Madison Square Garden (7:00, MSG).
The Rangers (25-24-5) enter tonight dead last in the Metropolitan Division, though they’re still, almost miraculously, only three points out of a playoff spot after losing seven of their past eight. Another embarrassing performance was turned in on Wednesday night, when they fell 6-1 to the Boston Bruins at home. The Rangers actually took an early lead thanks to a first period goal by Rick Nash, but six unanswered Boston tallies incensed the beleaguered home crowd.
Meanwhile, the Flames (28-18-8) are in the thick of the race for second place in the competitive Pacific Division, currently tied for second place with San Jose. They’re in the midst of a six-game road trip, and the middle part of a New York swing, having topped the New Jersey Devils 3-2 last night at Prudential Center. The Flames scored three goals in the second period, including one by Johnny Gaudreau on a breakaway. Gaudreau aslo had the primary assist on Sean Monahan’s game winning goal, one of two on the night.
— NHL (@NHL) February 9, 2018
This will be the first of two meetings between the Rangers and the Flames this season, with the Rangers set to visit Alberta on March 2. New York swept the set last year, including a 4-3 win at Madison Square Garden almost a year ago to the date on February 5. Three Rangers goals in the third period, with Michael Grabner, Chris Kreider, and Jesper Fast being the lucky parties, helped earn the two points, while Rick Nash scored a power play goal in the first.
While Ryan McDonagh (upper body) is out tonight, and Marc Staal (whiplash) was placed on injured reserve, the Rangers will welcome in rookie defensemen Neal Pionk and John Gilmour, each of whom are expected to make their NHL debuts tonight. Ondrej Pavlec will get the start in net.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490