The Rangers attempt to bounce back from a defensive nightmare as they play host to the Florida Panthers (7:00 p.m. ET, MSG).
Last time out, the Blueshirt defense surrendered 6 goals in a 7-5 loss against the Islanders. Henrik Lundqvist was pull for the first time this season after giving up five goals through two periods. On five of the six Islander goals, the Rangers defense fail to tie up a stick in front of the crease. The Islanders scored four goals on deflections and the winning goal came as Skjei turned the puck over and failed to tie up Leo Komarov’s stick. Simply put, the Rangers defense had a bad day at the office.
“Our D didn’t do a good job of picking up sticks,” said Skjei. “So that was definitely a point of emphasis in practice and I thought we did a much better job today against our guys.”
There were many positives to Thursday’s night game. In addition to being the better team for much of the game, they scored two powerplay goals and one short handed goal. Filip Chytil has now scored in two straight games.
“It’s nice to see him get rewarded with the goals, and I think more confidence comes from that, said head coach David Quinn.” You see guys with his talent and his goal-scoring ability, usually when they start scoring it does happen in bunches.
Quinn’s team forced many turnovers all game and created a lot of chances. Although there were a lot of mistakes defensively, the Rangers did not quit despite finding themselves down 6-3.
Tonight, the Rangers take on the Florida Panthers who have won five of their last six games and are now over .500 on the season (7-6-3). The Blueshirts won the first meeting 5-2. Mika Zibanejad registered four points and Alex Georgiev made 36 saves.
However, this game has a different feel than the first. Both teams have been red hot as of late and we will see Florida Panthers number one goalie, Roberto Luongo. Luongo missed the first game due to a right knee injury, but he has been sharp when he has played this season. Luongo has a 4-1-0 record while maintaining a .930 save percentage and 2.18 goals against average.
The Panthers will see Rangers starting goalie, Henrik Lundqvist for the first time this season. Lundqvist has looked sharp this season and he will look to continue his strong play against Florida.
Florida’s top six has been dangerous lately and the Blueshirts will have to do a better job tying up sticks in front if they want to win. Five out of the top six forwards are hovering around a point a game. In addition, former Ranger, Keith Yandle is averaging a point a game.
However, the most dangerous forward is first-year Panther Mike Hoffman. Hoffman enters the contest on a 14-game point streak. The 14-game point streak is the highest in the young season and the highest in Panther History.
The Rangers will look to quickly bounce back and start their three game homestand the right way. The Blueshirts have currently won their last four at Madison Square Garden, and they will try to make it five.
In team news, the Rangers have made their first trade of the season Friday afternoon. The Blueshirts traded Ryan Spooner to Edmonton, in exchange for Ryan Strome. Both players have underachieved this season and each team will look to get the other player going. Strome played 18 games for the Oilers this season and he only managed two points. Strome was a former fifth overall pick by the Islanders back in 2011. The 6’1 Canadian forward has recorded 162 points in 358 NHL games.
“I can’t wait to put my best foot forward and do everything I can to make my time in New York great,” said Strome. He will debut tonight on the third line.
Adam McQuaid who has missed the last nine games with a lower-body injury, skated on his own Friday. This is McQuaid’s first time skating since the injury. “He’s getting closer,” Quinn said, “but I wouldn’t say he’s close.”
Zuccarello will miss tonight’s game due to the groin injury that forced the Norwegian to miss three games straight prior to Thursday’s game against the Islanders.
Brady Skjei will be a healthy scratch for the first time this season.