Pregame Analysis

Rangers Begin Home-And-Home with Islanders

The Rangers and the Islanders will play a home-and-home series starting in Madison Square Garden (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).

The Battle of New York starts tonight with the Rangers currently on a four-game losing streak. They have allowed 22 goals during the win-less run. In Vegas they were defeated 4-2 with goals coming from Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast. Alex Georgiev made 27 saves on 30 shots. Prior to the Vegas game, the Blueshirts had lost the past three games by five goals each.

“We’ve got to do a better job of creating more scoring chances for ourselves, and I think one of our problems is we’re reluctant to shoot pucks unless we think we’re going to score a goal,” head coach David Quinn said.

“Tonight’s game was definitely a step up from the previous two,” said Brady Skjei, who logged over 25 minutes of ice time.

“I thought we took a step forward tonight…we just got to build off that,” said David Quinn.

This is an important stretch for the Blueshirts if they want to get back in the playoff hunt as their next four games will come against Metropolitan Division teams. The Islanders enter the game winners of six of their last seven games and they will be looking for revenge from the last meeting, which the Rangers won 5-0. Robin Lehner, the Islanders starter for tonight’s game, is currently on a career-high, seven-game winning streak.

“These division games are four-point games,” Quinn said. “We are past the halfway point so every game takes on a little bit different magnitude.”

Henrik Lundqvist will start for the Blueshirts. Lundqvist has been pulled in each of his past two starts and will look to turn his fortunes around.

“It’s up to us to show what we’re made of,” said Mika Zibanejad, who registered a goal in Vegas.

Freddy Claesson will return to the lineup in place of Tony DeAngelo. Kevin Hayes will miss his fourth-straight game. Mats Zuccarello and Jesper Fast will switch spots in the lineups and Filip Chytil will move to the wing.

“These are pivotalgames, the deeper you get into the season everything takes on a different levelof importance,” Quinn said. “This one is a critical game for sure.”

Projected lineup:

Kreider-Zibanejad-Zuccarello

Chytil-Strome-Fast

Namestnikov-Howden-Buchnevich

Vesey-Nieves-McLeod

Staal-Pionk

Skjei-McQuaid

Claesson – Shattenkirk

Lundqvist

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