After defeating the Anaheim Ducks by the score of 4-3 in overtime, the Blueshirts are back in action where they will take on their crosstown rivals (7:00 P.M. EST, MSG).
|5th||NHL Standing Rank||23rd|
On Wednesday afternoon, the Blueshirts made their first move at the trade deadline by acquiring Frank Vatrano from the Florida Panthers for a fourth-round pick (The lower of two fourth-round picks that the Rangers own). The 28-year-old grew up as friends with Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba and he has ten goals and nine assists on the season. This was a move that benefited both teams as the Blueshirts got depth in their top-nine whereas the Panthers got some much-needed cap relief.
The Panthers then used that cap space and that fourth-round pick to acquire Ben Chiarot from the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal received a prospect, a first-round pick in 2023, and the fourth-round pick that they had acquired from the Rangers. Montreal also retained 50% of Chiarot’s cap hit.
The last trade to happen on Wednesday was Seattle trading Calle Jarnkrok to Calgary for a second-round pick in 2022, a third-round pick in 2023, and a seventh-round pick in 2024. Seattle also retained 50% of Jarnkrok’s cap hit.
Both Chiarot and Jarnkrok had been two names that the Rangers had been allegedly interested in. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, one new name the Rangers are rumored to be interested in is Alex Radulov of the Dallas Stars. Radulov is in the final year of his contract and has 18 points on the season. In years past, the 35-year-old has put up a boatload of points but he now seems to be a regular on the bottom six. He currently has a 15-team no-trade clause but it is interesting that his name has come up given where he is at this point of his career.
After receiving an overtime goal from Adam Fox, the Rangers will hope to have the luck of the Irish when they take on the New York Islanders. The Blueshirts have had their fair troubles against the Islanders in previous seasons but they did defeat them 4-1 in the first meeting between the two sides.
With Vatrano traded in the mid-afternoon on Wednesday, it could be rather tough for him to get into the lineup immediately. The Panthers played in San Jose on Tuesday night and had likely flown to Vegas sometime after the game and Wednesday. Vatrano would then have likely boarded the next flight to New York. He also has yet to practice with his new team. The first insight with this will be when the Rangers take line rushes for the first time on Thursday. Morgan Barron was sent down to the minors to make room for Vatrano.
Igor Shesterkin is expected to get the start for the Blueshirts. Alex Georgiev made a somewhat-surprising start against the Ducks in which he had a good showing. Georgiev switched agents and his name has been rumored to be on the trade block. This could have been a way to showcase the goaltender against a team missing many key forwards.
The Islanders enter this game on a four-game point streak with a record of 3-0-1. The offense for Long Island has scored 18 goals during this stretch. The Islanders are known to be a defensive team under Barry Trotz and although they haven’t been as good in that area as they had in years past, they still rank sixth in the league in the goals against category.
Leading the Islanders in points is Mathew Barzal with 38 points in 48 games. The Islanders don’t have a single skater over 40 points on the season and only have four skaters above 30 points. For comparison, the Blueshirts have five players over 30 points and all five of those players also have more than 40 points on the season.
Quietly having a good season for the Blue and Orange is Noah Dobson. Dobson was selected 12th overall in 2018 and is having a breakout season. The 22-year-old has 34 points in 55 games on the blue line and he has become a leader on the power-play. Dobson has a team-leading 13 power-play points.
Expect Shesterkin’s good friend Ilya Sorokin to make the start for the Islanders. Sorokin isn’t getting the credit he deserves as he is having an excellent sophomore season. Sorokin has taken over as the Islanders’ number one netminder and he has a 2.33 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage to go with six shutouts.
Key to the game
The key to the game will be if the Rangers‘ offense can continue their recent success. The Blueshirts scored seven in Dallas followed by four against Anaheim. It’s no secret the Islanders goaltenders have had success against the Rangers in recent years whether that be with Jaroslav Halak or Semyon Varlamov. Thursday night’s game will be as intense as they come in this heated rivalry and will be anything but a walk in the park for the Rangers.
(Vatrano could slot in anywhere on the top nine which would alter the Rangers lineup. If he does play, expect Brodzinski or Gauthier to come out of the lineup)