Before the Rangers get ready to face the New York Islanders three times in a nine-day span, the Rangers are in St. Louis to take on the defending Stanley Cup Champions (8:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
Thursday night, Igor Shesterkin made his second straight start and improved his career record to 2-0. The Russian netminder made 46 saves in an impressive 6-3 victory.
“I thought he was really good tonight and we needed him to be,” said head coach David Quinn.
While the story entering the game was Shesterkin making his second straight start, the story upon conclusion of the game was all about Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo. DeAngelo registered five points including the first hat trick by a Rangers defenseman since March 17th, 1982. In addition, this was just the third time a Rangers defenseman has recorded five points in a game; the other two times were recorded both by Brian Leetch.
“It’s good to keep taking care of business on home ice,” DeAngelo said. The Rangers have won their past four games at Madison Square Garden dating back to December 22nd.
“He’s had a pretty special season in a lot of ways…,” said Quinn. “He just had it all going tonight.”
Saturday night, the Rangers will face a tough test when they visit the defending Stanley Cup Champions. The St. Louis Blues are looking to repeat and are making a strong case for themselves even without star winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Tarasenko registered ten points in ten games before having shoulder surgery and being required to miss five months. But the Blues haven’t slowed down and are the top team in the Western Conference and trail the Washington Capitals by just two points in the Presidents Trophy race.
Picking up the slack for the Blues has been David Perron who leads the team with 19 goals and 45 points. Half of Perron’s damage has come on the powerplay with 23 powerplay points. Ryan O’ Reilly is not far behind with 40 points and Jaden Schwartz has 37 points.
A big reason for the success of the Blues has been their defense and goaltending; especially the play of Jordan Binnington. Last postseason, Binnington set the record for most wins by a rookie goalie with 16 wins (the maximum possible) in the playoffs. This season Binnington has continued his strong play with a record of 21-7-4 with a 2.49 goals against average and a .917 save percentage.
Henrik Lundqvist will get the start for the Rangers. Alex Georgiev will back up the Swede and Shesterkin will be a healthy scratch. Ryan Lindgren did not participate in practice due to leaving Thursday’s night game with a lower-body injury. In addition, Marc Staal didn’t practice and might be unavailable. Libor Hajek was a full participant and Brendan Smith was also practicing on defense. Quinn said all defenders will make the trip but the lineup heading into the game is uncertain.