Pregame Analysis

Rangers Welcome Playoff-Bound Blues to MSG

The Blueshirts suffered a crushing loss in Boston, but they look to bounce back when they host the playoff-bound St Louis Blues (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).

Wednesday night, the Boston Bruins showed why they sit with the second-best record in the NHL. The Bruins top-six combined for five goals including a hat trick from David Pastrnak. The Bruins consistently found themselves in pockets of space leaving no chance for Henrik Lundqvist on five of six goals scored against him. Lundqvist finished the game with 26 saves.

”It’s hard enough to win in this league when you don’t beat yourself,” said head coach David Quinn. “We did a lot of good things early hanging around against a really good hockey team and then just imploded.”

The good news for the Rangers is their previous trade acquisitions are looking very positive. Mika Zibanejad registered two more goals as he hit 30 goals and 70 points for the first time in his career. Ryan Strome registered his 15th goal since joining the Rangers. If Strome was with the Rangers the entire season, he would have been on pace for a 40-point season. Meanwhile, Ryan Spooner who was traded to acquire Strome, has just eight points between three teams this season.

“I’m not surprised he got to 30,” Quinn said. “You play the right way,and you’re consistent, and you approach the game the way he has, you usuallyget rewarded for it statistically. If you’ve got that type of talent, that’swhat happening.”

Friday night, the Rangers will lookto bounce back against a surging St. Louis Blues side. The Blueshirts won thefirst meeting 2-1 backed by 39 saves from Lundqvist on New Years Eve. Just amonth prior, the Blues were in turmoil and word was going around the leaguethat they were willing to listen for trades on all players including VladimirTarasenko. They fired head coach Mike Yeo and named Craig Berube interim headcoach.

However, the once lottery contendershave turn it completely around and currently sit in a playoff spot. The Bluesare led up front by Ryan O’ Reilly who has 71 points on the season. But themost important piece to the Blues turn around is rookie netminder JordanBinnington. Binnington holds 21-4-1 record with a .930 save percentage and a1.80 goals against average. The Rangers will likely see Binnington in Fridaynights game.

“We’ve got to come prepared and give them a good battle…,” said Vlad Namestnikov.“We’re a hungry team, a young team, and we’ve got to keep working and hang inthere.”

Alex Georgiev will lead the Rangers into battle. Georgiev had a rough outing against the Penguins on Monday night allowing five goals. He will look to get back into form like he was in Toronto this past Saturday.

Chris Kreider and Marc Staal will both return to the lineup for the Rangers. Both players were dealing with lower-body injuries. Brendan Smith will move back to defense. Freddie Claesson and John Gilmour will be healthy scratches for the Blueshirts. Quinn mentioned Friday afternoon that he hasn’t decided on the forward lineup due to one guy being “dinged up”.

Projected Lineup:

Lemieux-Zibanejad-Buchnevich

Kreider-Chytil-Namestnikov

Vesey-Andersson-Strome

Nieves-Howden-Lettieri

Skjei-Shattenkirk

Staal-DeAngelo

Smith-Pionk

Georgiev

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