After suffering a humiliating loss to the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers look for a bounce back game in an original six matchup (8:00 P.M. ET, NBCSN).
“Really, the game was two different games: There was the 11-minute game and the 49-minute game,” said head coach David Quinn. “Unfortunately, we played the 11-minute game instead of the 49-minute game.”
After the first eleven minutes, the Blueshirts were in cruise control. They had a one goal lead on a goal from Kaapo Kakko. They were skating very well and creating a lot of scoring chances. Ottawa had yet to register a shot on goal. However, once the Senators tied the game, they completely dominated the game. The Rangers didn’t have an answer for Ottawa’s physical play as they were able to get under the skin of Rangers skaters.
“They were competing and battling,” Quinn said. “It looked like as the game went on, we were getting upset that they were actually doing that.”
Artemi Panarin added a power play goal that was assisted by Kakko as the Blueshirts fell 6-2. Kakko registered the first multi-point game of his career.
“You could just see him play with a different level of confidence right now,” said Quinn. “He might have been the only guy that had a good night tonight for us.”
Ultimately it appears this season will be about the Rangers finding consistency and finding their identity.
“It’s hard when you’re two different teams in a season,” said Jesper Fast. “We’re a team that’s playing hard and physical, and helping each other. Then we’re a team that thinks hockey is an easy game. We don’t battle hard enough and we don’t help each other. That’s not the way to play.”
Tonight, the Blueshirts host the Red Wings in an original six matchup. The Red Wings top line of Tyler Bertuzzi, Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha have combined for 40 points this season. At just under a point per game average, these are the only three forwards on the Red Wings that have more then six points. The Red Wings have struggled mightily this season as they score the fewest goals a game on average and struggle to keep the puck out of the net. They have the worst penalty kill percentage in the league which will be something the Rangers will look to exploit.
Jimmy Howard will get the start for the Red Wings. Howard has had a poor year with a record of 2-7-0. Howard holds a save percentage below .900 and has a goals against average near 4.00. But while Howard hasn’t had a good season to this point, the 35-year-old loves playing the New York Rangers. In Howard’s last eleven starts against the Blueshirts, he is 8-1-2 and has not allowed more than two goals in a single game during that span.
Mika Zibanejad skated during Wednesday’s practice in a no contact jersey. He will likely miss tonight’s contest. Coach Quinn will elaborate on any line changes following practice today.
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