With every game becoming more important than the last, the Rangers begin a crucial three game road trip starting in Dallas (8:30 P.M. ET, MSG2).
This past Sunday, the Rangers were embarrassed 6-4 by the New Jersey Devils. After taking a 2-1 lead into the second period, the Blueshirts came out completely flat and were outscored 4-0 in the second period. The Rangers would get two garbage time goals and ultimately be defeated 6-4.
“Unfortunately, this is who we’ve been. There really isn’t much to talk about,” said head coach David Quinn. “They were better than us in every capacity. Want is a very, very important characteristic in this sport. We played a team that wanted it much, much more than we did.”
Igor Shesterkin’s return from injury was spoiled as he had his worst career game in the NHL. Shesterkin allowed five goals on just 23 shots and was pulled at the start of the third period. Shesterkin hadn’t played in two weeks following a car accident and he later admitted that he felt fine physically but felt rusty.
“The goaltender was the least of our problems tonight,” Quinn said. “I don’t think we had one guy have a good night tonight.”
Shesterkin though won’t have to wait two weeks to get his next start as the Russian netminder will get the start in Dallas. The 24-year-old was 9-1-0 prior to suffering a fractured rib.
“I think Igor has earned that opportunity to get another kick at the can after being off for so long and having that great run that he had and having an injury,” said Quinn. “I anticipated him, probably regardless of his first game back, maybe having a little bit of rust.”
With teams around the Rangers continuing to earn points, the Blueshirts will have to return to winning ways starting on the three-game road trip. With just 14 games remaining in the season, each game becomes more important than the last. It won’t be easy as the Dallas Stars currently have 82 points and sit third in the tough central division. The Stars defeated the Blueshirts 5-3 back in February at Madison Square Garden. Dallas are currently the second-best defensive team in the league.
As good as Dallas is on defense, their offense hasn’t been as lights out. Tyler Seguin leads the team with 50 points in 68 games. Jamie Benn is having a down season with just 39 points. The Star’s offense ranks 26th in the entire NHL. If the Blueshirts can crack the tough nut which is their defense, they will put themselves in a good position to win this hockey game.
Ben Bishop will likely get the start for the Stars. Bishop is having a terrific year with a goals against average of 2.46 and a save percentage of .921. If Dallas could find a way to give him better scoring support, his record would likely be way better than 21-15-4.
The Rangers will start with the same lineups they had against the Devils. But as indicated by Quinn, if he is not liking what he is seeing, he won’t hesitate to make a change.
In other Rangers news, the Blueshirts have agreed to terms with free agent Patrick Khodorenko. Khodorenko’s contract begins in the 2020-2021 season and he will immediately report to Hartford and finish the year on an Amateur try-out. The 21-year-old forward went undrafted, but had 33 points in 36 games for Michigan State this season. The California native is 6-0, 200 pounds, and recorded 120 points in his college career.