Pregame Analysis

Rangers Continue Road Trip in Arizona

After back-to-back defeats, the Blueshirts are in Arizona in hopes for their first win of the new year (4:00 P.M. ET, MSG).

The Rangers finished 2018 on a two-game winning streak but 2019 has been anything but kind to the Blueshirts. They have now lost their past two games and they have been outscored 13-3. The Rangers were trying to put the Pittsburgh game in the rear view mirror, but Friday’s game was a reminder that work needs to be done.

The Blueshirts never got a chance to get into the game and find a rhythm. Cody McLeod took a major penalty under three minutes into the game and that would set the tone for the game. Colorado quickly jumped out into a 2-0 lead. Things wouldn’t get easier as the Rangers found themselves in penalty trouble for the entire first half of the game. They took 13 penalty minutes in just the first period, three more minor penalties and a ten-minute misconduct in the second period and a minor penalty in the third period. The Rangers finished the game with a season high, 31 penalty minutes in a 6-1 defeat.

Despite allowing six goals, Alexander Georgiev looked sharp in this contest. He stopped multiple breakaways and other A+ scoring chances. Georgiev finished the game with 41 saves. Ryan Strome got the lone Rangers goal.

“We didn’t quit, but it certainly wasn’t our night…,” said head coach David Quinn. “We created a lot of our own problems with the penalties, so we’ve got to move past this in a hurry.”

“We just got to be smarter with our sticks and smarter with our decision making,” said Chris Kreider, who had two minor penalties.

“Some of the penalties were on us, some we weren’t really agreeing with,” said Mats Zuccarello, who received a ten-minute misconduct.

Today’s game will mark the halfway point of the season upon its conclusion in Arizona. Earlier this season, the Coyotes came back from 3-0 to defeat the Rangers at Madison Square Garden on an overtime goal by former Ranger Derek Stepan. Henrik Lundqvist will start for the Rangers after a much-deserved rest in Colorado. Lundqvist has won eight of ten meetings against the Coyotes and he holds a .927 save percentage.

The Coyotes are struggling with injuries and it’s showing in the standings. The Coyotes are just 4-10-1 in their last 15 games and they sit tied for last with the Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division. They currently have five key players on the injured reserved including former Rangers Anti Raanta and Michael Grabner. With Raanta out, Darcy Kuemper is the number one goal and he will start this afternoon. Kuemper is 5-11-3 with a 2.83 goals against average and a .911 save percentage.

The Coyotes also sit 29thin goals scored per game. The one thing they do have going for them, is aleague leading penalty kill at 88.3% including eleven shorthanded goals.However, the last time these teams met, the Rangers scored all three of theirgoals on the power play.

Kevin Hayes didn’t take the ice fora third straight day at yesterday’s practice, and he won’t feature in today’sgame. Hayes is still listed as day-to-day with a nagging upper-body injury. BrendanSmith will also draw in the lineup for Freddy Claesson.

Projected lineup:

Kreider-Zibanejad-Fast

Namestnikov-Chytil-Zuccarello

Nieves-Howden-Buchnevich

Vesey-Strome-McLeod

Staal-Pionk

Skjei-McQuaid

Smith – Shattenkirk

Lundqvist

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