This afternoon, the Rangers travel to Los Angeles in a Stanley Cup rematch which has haunted Ranger fans for many years (3:30 p.m. ET, MSG).
The Blueshirts enter the game coming off one of their most disappointing losses of the season against Chicago. The Blackhawks entered the game allowing over 3.5 goals a game and the Rangers offense couldn’t sustain any offensive zone pressure during the game. Jonathan Toews got the Blackhawks on the board early in the first after a Brady Skjei and Adam McQuaid collision. The Rangers would get an immediate response, tying the game just over a minute later through Pavel Buchnevich. Adam McQuaid left the game in the first period due to an upper-body injury and he did not return.
The rest of the game would be all Chicago. Nick Schmaltz would drop a dime to Alexandre Fortin who tapped the puck in a wide-open cage. Patrick Kane would score on a rebound late in the third, followed by a DeBrincat empty net.
The Rangers managed only one shot in the third period. It was made clear after the game, that head coach David Quinn was not happy with their performance. “That was, really, probably as poor as we played all year,” Quinn said. “One of the things I think we’ve done a good job of is skating and competing, and that wasn’t the case tonight. We have to get back to work on Saturday. That was just not acceptable.”
The only bright side was the play of goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist kept the game close despite the Rangers struggling to maintain possession of the puck. He finished with 33 saves on 36 shots. On an interesting note, in Lundqvist’s seven starts, the Rangers only managed to score 13 goals. Whereas in Georgiev’s two starts, the Rangers managed ten goals.
Today the Rangers travel to California to take on the struggling Los Angeles Kings. The Kings enter the game last in the Pacific Division and currently on a six-game losing streak. The Kings haven’t lost seven in a row, since 2007. Jack Campbell gets the nod over starting goalie Jonathan Quick. Quick has struggled in his three starts since coming off the injured reserved, averaging an .818 save percentage. Campbell has both of the Kings wins this season. While the Kings have had struggles keeping the puck out of the net, they have had nightmares putting the puck in the net. The Kings enter the game dead last in the NHL averaging 1.80 goals a game. They are the only team in the league not averaging two goals a game. Alex Iafallo leads the kings in points with seven. Meanwhile veterans such as Anze Kopitar have struggled to generate offense. Kopitar has just three goals thus far. The Rangers will also see Ilya Kovalchuk for the first time since 2013, when he left New Jersey to join the KHL. Kovalchuk has just five points.
On the other hand, the Rangers are looking to bounce back after a dreadful performance. They will play the second game of their four-game road trip. This game has the making of a goalie duel with both offenses struggling to light the lamp.
Quinn has emphasized the importance of bouncing back. “One of the things that’ll happen in a long season, you’re going to have stinkers. What do you do after you have one?” Quinn said. “Are you going to make it two in a row or are you going to stop it? That’s something that we talked at length about today,” Quinn stated after Saturday practice.
Henrik Lundqvist will get the start in a very favorable matchup. Lundqvist has held opponents to two goals or fewer in five of his eight starts this season but has allowed three or more in each of his past three games. Pavel Buchnevich will look to build off Thursday’s goal and put together goals in consecutive games for the first time this season. Expect the Rangers to take a lot of shots after only shooting the puck 19 times on Thursday.
Tony DeAngelo will play alongside Brady Skjei. Adam McQuaid misses today’s game with a lower-body injury suffered verse Chicago. In addition, Coach Quinn has made some lines changes. The reshuffling of the lines was to get Chytil back to center according to Quinn.
According to Nick Krypreos, a Sportsnet broadcaster, Kevin Hayes is drawing early trade interest early in the season. Krypreos goes on to state that the Winnipeg Jets could be a potential trading partner. Winnipeg never replaced Paul Stastny who was their second line center. A pick or a prospect might be what it takes to land Hayes. Hayes could be traded sooner rather than the trade deadline.