Pregame Analysis

Rangers Set for New York Clash with Sabres

               After defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3, the Rangers are set to host the Buffalo Sabres in a New York clash (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).

Rangers Ranks Sabres
26-22-4 Record 23-23-8
8th GF/PG 21st  
23rd GA/PG 21st  
7th PP% 21st
23rd PK% 28th

               Wednesday night, Igor Shesterkin recorded his fourth win in his fifth career game. Shesterkin recorded 27 saves in a winning effort against a gifted Toronto Maple Leaf Offense. The Russian born goalie made some quality saves at key times to help maintain the lead.

               After the game, when asked if it’s getting easier, Shesterkin simply replied “hockey’s fun”. Shesterkin has now won 100 of his last 125 games since the start of the 2016-2017 season in the KHL, AHL, and NHL.

               “Obviously Igor came up big,” said Mika Zibanejad. “I sound like a broken record, but he came up big when we needed him, and we scored the necessary goals.”

               After trailing 1-0 off a John Tavares goal, Filip Chytil found the equalizer on a gorgeous pass from Tony DeAngelo. Toward the end of the first, the Rangers would strike for two goals in six seconds courtesy of Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider. After an awkward goal scored by Toronto, the Rangers immediately responded less than a minute later on a goal from Pavel Buchnevich. While the Leafs scored a power-play goal late to give the Rangers a scare, Greg McKegg tallied the empty net goal to seal the win for the Blueshirts.

               “That was a really good win,” said head coach David Quinn.

               While the victory was enjoyable, the Rangers will have to put that game behind them and get ready for the Buffalo Sabres. The Sabres played Thursday night against Detroit and were defeated 4-3 in a shootout. Last time the two teams met, Buffalo was the top team in the league and were defeated by the Rangers 6-2. Since the last meeting, not only is Buffalo not the top team, they are out of the playoff picture and below the Rangers in the standings.

               Buffalo is led by Jack Eichel who has 66 points in 53 games; including 31 goals. Jeff Skinner, who signed a 63-million-dollar contract over seven-years, is having a disappointing year with just 19 points. Buffalo will be looking toward Skinner to step up his game against the Blueshirts.

               Carter Hutton will make the start for the Sabres. Hutton is 7-9-4 with a 3.30 goals against average and a .891 save percentage. While Hutton is having a down season, he has had success against the Rangers in the past. In his seven career starts against the Rangers, Hutton has only allowed two goals or fewer in six of those games (Hutton allowed six goals against the Rangers in the first meeting this season).

               Alex Georgiev was hinted as the starter earlier in the week by Quinn. Georgiev hasn’t started since his latest defeat to the Islanders prior to the all-star break. Georgiev had play three of the past four games leading up to the break.

               Ryan Strome started the game against Toronto on the third line, separating him from Panarin. Strome had been taken off the line for Chytil, in hopes that Strome would pick up his play. Strome, who scored two goals against Buffalo in October, was moved back onto a line Artemi Panarin in the first period, and will likely open on a line with Panarin against Buffalo.

Projected Lineup

Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich

Panarin-Strome-Fast

Lemieux-Chytil-Kakko

Di Giuseppe-McKegg-Howden

Skjei-Trouba

Lindgren-Fox

Staal-DeAngelo

Georgiev

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