The Rangers and the Devils will see plenty of each other over the course of six days as they prepare to do battle four times (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
|Rangers||East Division Ranks /8||Devils|
With a possible of 30 points left available for the Rangers, the Blueshirts are going to need to get around 22 points to have a chance to make the playoffs. And even 22 points may not be enough for the Rangers who trail the Bruins by four points and Boston have two games in hand. With every point going to be crucial, the Blueshirts are going to need to beat up on the weaker teams in the East Division. The Rangers play the Devils four straight times and really need at least six points but could do with more.
If the Devils were not good before the trade deadline then they certainly won’t be good after selling at the trade deadline. New Jersey traded Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac, and Dmitry Kulikov. The only addition they had was acquiring Jonas Siegenthaler from Washington for a conditional third-round pick.
The Rangers stayed put at the deadline and didn’t sell or buy any players or picks. General Manager Jeff Gorton decided it was best to stay the course and continue to give ice time to the young players.
“We made a number of calls, took a number of calls, went through a number of scenarios, and it’s clear we have a plan in place,” Gorton said. “Nothing that came along was going to add to what we wanted to do and was something we felt was going to help us, short term or long term.”
And the Rangers will likely be getting even younger as the season nears the end. The only transaction made during the trade deadline was signing defender Zac Jones to his entry-level contract. Jones helped UMass win the Frozen Four championship game and become national champions. Jones registered 24 points in 29 games for the Minutemen this season. Jones will burn the first year of his entry-level contract and report directly to the Rangers. The 20-year-old currently has no timetable to debut, but he is expected to debut after getting practice reps. Jones joined the Rangers for the morning skate on Tuesday and was not required to quarantine.
Also, likely to get a look in the NHL will be Morgan Barron. The 22-year-old currently leads the Hartford Wolf Pack with 15 points in 15 games.
“Morgan’s played extremely well, and we have four recalls, so we’d be hopeful to give him an opportunity, or anyone [in Hartford] who deserves it,” said Gorton.
But the Rangers must remain focus on the task at hand which is to defeat the New Jersey Devils in the first of four games. The Rangers will need their top-six to refind their game after having two off games in Long Island. The kid line led the way in Long Island to three out of a possible four points. With Filip Chytil, Kaapo Kakko, and Alexis Lafreniere getting more and more confident – the Rangers will look for the top-six forward group to help the kids out. Chris Kreider has cooled off after a hot stretch from late February that lasted until the middle of March. Kreider has just two assists in the past seven games and he found himself demoted to the fourth line during Sunday’s overtime defeat.
Artemi Panarin was also unusually quiet on Sunday’s game as he went pointless. Both Panarin and Kreider had maintenance days on Monday during practice and they are both expected to be available. Julien Gauthier practiced on the second line in Panarin’s place while Vitaly Kravtsov was in Kreider’s spot on the top line.