Pregame Analysis

It’s Game Day! Ryan McDonagh returns to lineup as Rangers host Carolina tonight

The captain returns! After a disastrous defensive breakdown led to the Rangers loss against the Florida Panthers Tuesday, the added defensive help will be greatly appreciated as Ryan McDonagh returns to the lineup for the Blueshirts as they prepare to battle the 10-8-5 Carolina Hurricanes tonight at MSG.

Two weeks ago the Rangers beat the Hurricanes 6-1 with help from Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast — each of whom scored twice in the game. The Hurricanes will almost certainly be out to prove they can hold their own with the Blueshirts.

Despite the return of Ryan McDonagh serving as the main story for this game tonight, perhaps an even more impacting lineup change has happened with Mika Zibanejad formally being diagnosed with a concussion.

Player to watch

The play of the 5’6″ David Desharnais will be crucial in keeping the hot hands of Kreider and Buchnevich going

David Desharnais played on Tuesday in his place and played well — helping to maintain the strong chemistry between Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich. The veteran center picked up three assists centering the top line and helped Coach Alain Vigneault avoid scrambling the lines.

Desharnais has had flashes in his career where he proved he can put up top-6 forward numbers, and the Rangers will desperately need him to continue his solid play during Zibanejad’s absence. Optimally, Kreider and Buchnevich will continue to play well and permit a weaker player skill-wise to center the line.

As long as Desharnais can play to his strengths which are faceoffs, and battling for pucks in deep the team should be able to carry on without their bonafide #1 center.


Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider — David Desharnais — Pavel Buchnevich

Jimmy Vesey — Kevin Hayes — Rick Nash

Michael Grabner — J.T. Miller — Mats Zuccarello

Paul Carey — Boo Nieves — Jesper Fast

 

Ryan McDonagh — Nick Holden

Brady Skjei — Kevin Shattenkirk

Marc Staal — Brendan Smith

 

Henrik Lundqvist

Ondrej Pavelec

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