The Blueshirts will look to end the day second in the Metropolitan Division when they host the Buffalo Sabres Sunday evening (5:00 P.M. EST, MSG+).
|6th||NHL Standing Rank||26th|
The Rangers came out victorious by the score of 5-1 over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Following the game, the Rangers trails the Penguins by just one point with one game in hand. The Rangers were in complete control from the start by opening the game with three goals in the first 4:16 of play. Goals came from Alexis
, Chris Kreider, and Frank Vatrano. Kreider tallied a shorthanded goal in the second period and newcomer Andrew Copp put the cherry on top with a goal in the dying minutes.
Head coach Gerard Gallant tinkered with the lines by moving Vatrano on the top line and Copp on the second line. Lafreniere moved back to the left-wing where he feels most comfortable.
“I thought he was excellent tonight – and he’s played hard,” said Gallant. Lafreniere played on the third line with Filip Chytil and Barclay Goodrow as they opened the scoring in the game.
With home-ice advantage in the first round currently in the Blueshirts’ control, they’ll have to take care of business against the Buffalo Sabres. If the Rangers want to catch the Pittsburgh, they can’t let two points slip away against one of the bottom teams in the league. It will be important the Rangers don’t let up or take them lightly as they learned from an embarrassing defeat earlier in the week to the New Jersey Devils. If the Blueshirts haven’t learned their lesson from earlier in the week, they’ll be in for a tough time on home ice.
Gallant’s new fourth-line was all about speed and it was very effective against the Penguins. Consisting of Tyler Motte, Jonny Brodzinski, and Dryden Hunt – that line was flying on the ice and creating energy. They were causing all sorts of problems for Pittsburgh. It’ll be tough to change the lineup after a dominating win on Friday night, but it will be interesting if Gallant prefers speed over strength going forward.
While the Blueshirts will be looking for two points, Buffalo won’t make it easy as the Rangers have found out in the first two meetings this season. The Blueshirts beat Buffalo by just one goal in each of the first two meetings including a last-second game-winning goal by Ryan Lindgren back at the beginning of the year.
However, Buffalo enters the game red hot with a record of 5-1-1 in their last seven games. This includes victories over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The line to keep an eye on will be the Sabres’ top line consisting of Tage Thompson, Alex Tuch, and Jeff Skinner. Thompson is averaging a point-per-game in the last seven games, while Skinner is on pace to be over 30 goals again. Tuch was acquired from Vegas in the trade that sent Jack Eichel to Vegas. Tuch has played in just 32 games this season but he has 26 points and is the only player with a positive plus-minus on Buffalo.
The other big player the Sabres got in the Eichel trade was Peyton Krebs. Krebs was a first-round selection in 2017 and he is getting his chance to play consistent minutes in Buffalo. The 21-year-old currently has 14 points in 31 games in Buffalo this season.
Key to the Game
The key to the game will be shutting down the Sabres top line. They are dangerous and have goal-scoring abilities in them. If the Blueshirts can shut them down, they’ll give themselves a high chance of winning the game. It will also be worth keeping an eye on the fourth line of the Rangers and if they can continue to cause the opposition problems.