After what felt like a playoff game on Tuesday night against the Hurricanes, the Blueshirts will travel to Philadelphia where they will put their three-game road win streak on the line (7:00 EST, TNT).
|4th||NHL Standing Rank||29th|
On Tuesday night, the Rangers were defeated 4-2 by the Carolina Hurricanes. It was a pretty even game throughout but ultimately the aggressive Hurricanes proved to be too much to handle. On defense, Carolina is very quick and very aggressive and they don’t care if they leave a gap open. The Hurricanes are a team that has good stamina and they trust they can recover an open gap if one is left. It is with this pressure that opposing teams struggle against and they force you into mistakes.
Chris Kreider scored his 50th goal of the season which came in the final two minutes with the goalie pulled. Kreider’s 50th gave the Rangers a chance but Carolina would ice it off with an empty-net goal.
After the game, Kreider was asked by the media if he dreamed about scoring 50 goals when he was a kid and he responded, “I dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup.”
The Rangers haven’t matched up great against Carolina all season and they’ll have one more time to see them before a potential second-round matchup if both teams win round one. The winner of the division is scheduled to meet the Atlantic wild card team while second place in the division is scheduled to meet Pittsburgh as it stands. However, the Capitals have closed the gap to the Penguins to just three points and Washington has two games in hand.
Rangers vs Flyers
The Blueshirts will be right back at it on Wednesday when they travel to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers. New York enters this game having won three-in-a-row away from home ice. With Igor Shesterkin playing on Tuesday, expect Alex Georgiev to get the start on Wednesday. Georgiev was rock solid in his last start in which he made 20 saves on 21 shots.
Filip Chytil was close to playing against Carolina. With it being a back-to-back the Rangers may opt to play it safe once again. But his status is currently not available for Wednesday and if he does play, he will likely slot back on the third line with Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.
It is possible to expect some rotation on the fourth line against the Flyers. While nothing is concrete, just getting fresh legs in the lineup and keeping everyone sharp for the playoffs could be vital. It would come with no surprise if there are one or two changes on the fourth line. Jonny Brodzinski and Greg McKegg would be the likely two to come into the lineup if any changes are made. Of course, if Chytil is available, then Barclay Goodrow would likely slot onto the fourth line.
Philadelphia is also concluding a back-to-back which will level the playing field. The Flyers are coming off a shocking 9-2 defeat at the hands of the Washington Capitals. If losing 9-2 wasn’t bad enough, the Flyers also lost Cam Atkinson and Carter Hart to lower-body injuries, and both are listed as doubtful for Wednesday.
While the Flyers are essentially the same team the Rangers saw less than two weeks ago, there will be one new face that the Blueshirts haven’t seen. 20-year-old Bobby Brink just signed his first NHL contract after hoisting the NCAA championship with Denver. Bring was a second-round pick who really emerged during this past college hockey season. Brink recorded 57 points in 41 games during the Pioneers’ regular season. The Flyers are expected to play the Minnesota native early and often as they try to get a better sense of their younger crop of players. Expect Brink to skate on the top line with Kevin Hayes and Joel Farabee.
What to Watch
As the Rangers start to get ready for the playoffs, I think it is important that they get the young guys ready both mentally and physically. This includes Kakko, Lafreniere, and Braden Schneider. It is important to build the confidence of these three as they will be relied on to make smart plays and contribute on both ends of the ice in what will be stressful situations. There is no better way to start growing their confidence than playing a Philadelphia team who are also playing their young prospects and are coming off a 9-2 defeat. If the come to a point where their playoff seed is locked, I wouldn’t mind the Rangers going a game or two with the younger players getting top ice time and seeing what they can do.