Tuesday night, the Rangers will conclude a season long five-game homestand against the Tampa Bay Lightning (7:30 P.M. ET, NBCSN).
Sunday night, the Rangers were in search for consistency and they came back empty handed. After coming out of the first period with a 1-0 lead, the Blueshirts collapsed in the second period allowing four goals. They were outshot 21-5 in second period. The Bruins were up 6-2 for much of the third, before the Rangers got two quick garbage time goals. Patrice Bergeron added an empty netter to complete a final score of 7-4. Rangers goal scorers included Michael Haley, Pavel Buchnevich, Chris Kreider and Brady Skjei. Mika Zibanejad left the game after the first period with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.
After playing a complete game against the Sabres, the Rangers couldn’t find the consistency they were looking for.
“We need to understand how hard we have to play every night,” said Lundqvist. “It comes down to battles. That’s how you win in this league.” Lundqvist made 27 saves on 31 shots before being pulled after two periods of play. Lundqvist also suffered an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day. He will backup Alex Georgiev on Tuesday.
“If you have no battle in you, you’re not going to be productive,” said head coach David Quinn. “This game is all about, what can you do when someone is trying to stop you from doing it?”
Following Monday’s practice, the Rangers called up Filip Chytil and Ryan Lindgren. The plan for now is to keep the roster at max capacity. Chytil is expected to make his debut in the top nine. If Zibanejad can’t play, Chytil may see a role in the top six. The 20-year-old registered nine points in Hartford in nine games. After a poor training camp, Chytil has responded well in Hartford and has earned this opportunity.
Lindgren who was acquired from Boston in the Rick Nash trade, will likely get his first taste of NHL action this season. There is no obvious replacement on who would be the healthy scratch for the Rangers. Quinn is hoping that Lindgren can bring battle and consistency to the lineup. Following both recalls, the Rangers are the only team in the NHL to have seven players aged 21 or younger.
“I think part of our problem is we have a lot of [skill] guys [and] that’s how they identify themselves,” said Quinn. “One thing we have to do is make sure they understand that it’s great to have that skill set, but you’ve got to have a grit element and a battle element to your game if you’re going to be successful here.”
Last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winning team, the Tampa Bay Lightning have had a slow start for their standards. At 5-3-2, the Lightning stand just fifth in the Atlantic Division. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov lead the team in points with eleven and ten. Former Ranger, Kevin Shattenkirk, who was bought out last summer, has four goals and seven points this season. The Lightning play the Devils on Wednesday, so the Rangers may see either Andrei Vasilevskiy or Curtis McElhinney. Both goalies have a goals against average around 3.00. Tampa Bay has struggled on the penalty kill which may be an area the Rangers can exploit. Like the Rangers, the Lightning also average ten minutes in the penalty box each game. Last season, the Lightning finished the season seventh in goals against and were the top ranked penalty kill. They are not accustomed to struggling to keep the puck out of the net which gives the Rangers offense confidence heading into this game.
“It’s what we do in this room that’s going to make us successful,” said Brendan Smith. “If we dictate the play, we’re going to be on top of them rather than the other way around.”
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