After a disappointing loss to the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers will look to put that behind them as the face off against the Montreal Canadiens (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG2).
In a season that will have many highs and many lows, the Rangers suffered one of their lowest lows 20 games into the season. Wednesday night, the Rangers played one of their best games of the season defeating the league leading Washington Capitals. As things appeared to be trending in the right direction, the Rangers were defeated 4-1 in Ottawa. Head coach David Quinn was very unhappy after the game.
“An abysmal game, in so many ways,” Quinn said. Give Ottawa a lot of credit – I thought they played hard, they played smart; they won every footrace; they won every one-on-one battle.” Quinn elaborated that he was unhappy with every single guy in the lineup.
Quinn further continued, “This is as disappointing as it’s been, because I thought we were actually going in the right direction and building off a couple of good games for us. But we’re back to square one.”
The Rangers only goal came from Jacob Trouba on a shot that was going wide of the net that was deflected by Senators goalie Anders Nilsson’s stick. The Rangers now have 16 goals from defenseman which is the second most in the NHL. Artemi Panarin’s twelve game point streak also came to an end. Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves in defeat.
“You have one way to play, one way to win in this league,” said Lundqvist. “Until we play that type of game, it’s going to be up and down. But if we can take that step and be ready each game, like we were the last game, I think we can go on good runs. But we need everybody.”
And everybody stepping up is exactly what the Rangers will need. Quinn is especially looking for his older group of players to step up.
“I just think we’ve got guys that obviously don’t understand how hard it is in this league,” Quinn said. “It’s not our young players, I’ll tell you that right now. It’s guys that have been in the league before. And these guys have got to step up and deliver.” The Rangers will hope the first line consisting of Panarin, Ryan Strome and Jesper Fast can have a bounce back game after being held off the scoresheet.
The good news is the Blueshirts will have a chance to immediately bounce back and put Friday’s game behind them. ‘Hopefully we can follow the trend where when we don’t play well, we come back and put forth a much better effort,” said Quinn.
Things lately haven’t been going Montreal’s way who currently sit third in the Atlantic Division. Following a three-game win streak, Montreal have gone winless in their last three outings entering Saturday’s game against the Rangers. To make matters worse, Jonathan Drouin was recently put on the injured reserved after undergoing wrist surgery that will keep him out for at least eight weeks. The leading point scorer in Montreal is Tomas Tatar with 20 points. Six-time all-star Shea Weber has 17 points to lead Montreal defenders.
Carey Price will get the start for the Canadiens. Price has started all but four games this season and he holds a record of 10-5-3 with one shutout.
Alex Georgiev will get the start in the second game of the back-to-back. Georgiev is winless in his career against Montreal. The Bulgarian born goalie is 0-2 against Montreal as he lost both his starts last season against the Canadiens.
Pavel Buchnevich, who currently is tied for the team lead in assists with 14, will skate in his 200th career game. Buchnevich is currently third in points for the Rangers behind Panarin and Strome.
Mika Zibanejad will remain out of the lineup but he could return as early as next week. The Rangers are currently 1-1 in the second game of a back-to-back set.