After coming away with a victory against the struggling St. Louis Blues, the Rangers are travelling to Las Vegas for a game against the leader of the Western Conference (10:00 P.M. ET, TNT).
|Rangers||NHL Rankings||Golden Knights|
|14th||NHL Standing Rank||3rd|
For the first time this season, the Blueshirts entered the third period trailing by a goal and managed to come from behind and win in regulation. The Rangers were trailing by the score of 4-3 entering the third period. It took just slightly over eight minutes for the Rangers to find themselves up a goal and eventually win the game by the score of 6-4. New York had six different goal scorers throughout the game including three from defensemen. They also contributed with two special team’s goals including a power-play goal and short-handed goal.
Rangers vs Golden Knights
The Blueshirts will now travel west for a two-game road trip starting against the Western Conference leading Vegas Golden Knights. During the game against the Blues, former Knights head coach and current Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant put together a new line that seemed to cause the Blues all kinds of problems. Mika Zibanejad centered Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko and the trio together were dangerous every time they were on the ice. Kakko alone could have had a hat trick but unfortunately, he was either robbed by Jordan Binnington or hitting the post.
“I’ve got a pretty sure bet that Kaapo is the next one next game,” said Chris Kreider. “Because he’s been doing all the little things and working his butt off and getting all kinds of chances and looks.”
Kreider recorded a short-handed goal and was put on a line with Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey which also were generating chances. Assuming Gallant opts to keep these lines, it will be interesting to see if they can continue their high quality of play against the best in the west.
In the offseason, the Knights made a coaching change and hired former Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy has helped rejuvenate the Golden Knights after missing the postseason last year and they just put a halt to the Bruins 14-game home win streak. This is a dangerous Vegas team that is now healthy and playing at a high level. Mark Stone is back after suffering multiple injuries last year and really just not being himself. Stone has 21 points so far this season. But perhaps the scariest piece of the Golden Knights is having a healthy Jack Eichel. Eichel underwent neck surgery after being acquired by the Knights from Buffalo last season. The former second overall pick played last year, but wasn’t his normal self. Now Eichel is back in game shape and is a menace once again as he has 29 points on the season and leads the team with 13 goals. Eichel was a game-time decision against the Bruins and ultimately didn’t play with a lower-body injury, but Eichel and the Knights are much happier it is that and not a neck issue.
Alex Pietrangelo missed his fourth-straight game due to a personal issue. Pietrangelo quietly has 21 points in 23 games this season. Las Vegas was hoping to have the veteran defenseman back against the Bruins, but he ultimately wasn’t available. At the time of writing, it is currently unknown if he or Eichel will be available against the Rangers.
What makes Vegas scary is how good their secondary scoring is and the fact that they can win without two of their best players. The Golden Knights currently have eight players with at least 18 points whereas the Rangers have just four. Reilly Smith has 12 goals while Jonathan Marchessault has 20 points on the year. And they have another defenseman who can put up points in Shea Theodore who has the same number of points as Pietrangelo. Theodore is also a plus-14 on the season.
Robin Lehner was their starting goaltender to enter the season but he had double hip surgery to end his year before it even began. Luckily for Vegas, Logan Thompson is having a breakout season as the lead netminder. Thompson gave Vegas good goaltending in limited starts last season, but he is really proving he can be a starting goaltender in the NHL. Thompson has a record of 13-5-0 and a .920 save percentage.
Filip Chytil is still listed as day-to-day. If no transaction is made with Jonny Brodzinski, expect Chytil to remain out of the lineup.
The game against the Knights will be a real test for the Blueshirts and it gives them a chance to make a statement victory. There are no holes in the Knights roster and there is a reason they are one of the favorites to come out of the west this season. If the Blueshirts can continue to build off the positives they had from Monday’s game against a much better opponent, they could begin to turn their season around.
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