The Blueshirts will put their five-game win streak on the line when they host the Chicago Blackhawks (8:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
|5th||NHL Standing Rank||27th|
The Rangers defeated the San Jose Sharks by a score of 1-0 on Friday night. The lone goal scorer in the game was a Ryan Strome power-play goal in the first period. However, the only thing Rangers fans were concerned with was the health of goaltender Igor Shesterkin. Shesterkin left the game about five minutes into the third period and did not return. The 25-year-old made 19 saves before leaving the game with what appeared to be a non-contact injury. Alex Georgiev came in relief and stopped all nine shots for the second combined shutout in Rangers’ history.
After the game, head coach Gerard Gallant provided an injury update on Shesterkin and said, “It’s not as bad as it looks.”
Gallant further talked about his goaltending and praised Georgiev’s effort when he entered the game. “Coming in on that power play was tough, but he made three great saves. He looked solid. I was really happy…,” Gallant said.
With Shesterkin injured, Georgiev will make the start against the Blackhawks. Georgiev was scheduled to play in the second game of a back-to-back prior to the injury. However, Keith Kinkaid, the Rangers’ third-string goaltender won’t be available to backup Georgiev due to being in the COVID protocol. Adam Huska from Hartford will serve as the backup goaltender. Shesterkin was placed on IR and won’t be able to play for a week. He will miss the next three games with his next chance of playing coming against the Sabres on December 11th.
The Blueshirts are currently riding a five-game win streak and a win tonight could really move them up the standings. Depending on other results, the Rangers could not only find themselves at the top of the division but also at the top of the NHL. Currently, the Rangers sit second in the division and trail the Washington Capitals by one point with two games in hand. If even more results favor the Rangers, they could find themselves in a five-way tie at the top of the league with a game in hand or two in hand on those at the top.
It’s been quite an eventful season for the Blackhawks and it’s only a quarter of the way through. First, they fired their former general manager Stan Bowman due to his involvement in the sexual assault cover-up of former Blackhawk Kyle Beach. If this wasn’t enough of a distraction or public relations disaster as is, the Blackhawks struggled mightily to start the season. They went 0-7-2 and didn’t win a game in the month of October.
Jeremy Colliton was relieved of his head coaching duties after a 1-9-2 start. Derek King is the current interim head coach of the Blackhawks. Since King became the interim head coach, the Blackhawks have gone 7-3-0.
One of the Blackhawks’ biggest moves in the offseason was addressing their goaltending. They went out and acquired Marc-Andre Fleury from Vegas to help solidify the position. Fleury currently has a .913 save percentage on the season. However, the Blackhawks play the Islanders on Sunday before returning to Chicago to host the Rangers on Tuesday. Second-year goaltender Kevin Lankinen. Lankinen holds a 2-3-2 record with an .888 save percentage on the season.
The biggest move made by the Blackhawks in the offseason was acquiring Seth Jones in a trade from the Blue Jackets. Shortly after the move, Chicago gave Jones a contract for eight seasons with an annual cap hit of 9.5 million. Jones is currently tied for the team lead in points with Patrik Kane. Both Jones and Kane have 19 points on the season.
What to Watch
It will be important for Alex Georgiev to have a good game and give the Rangers a chance to win. Georgiev has really struggled to start the season and now he is going to get an opportunity to show his worth. Some believe that Georgiev’s spot on the roster could be in jeopardy if he continues to struggle. These upcoming starts he will receive in Shesterkin’s absence will be vital to the Rangers and his confidence.