The Rangers are looking to snap a three-game losing skid as they take on the Boston Bruins, who on Thursday night, showed the Rangers what a true contender looks like (1:00 P.M. ET, MSG+).
|Rangers||East Division Ranks /8||Bruins|
Thursday night, the Blueshirts started off promising but the wheels quickly came off the track. Despite allowing an early goal from David Pastrnak, the Rangers were skating and controlling play. But a Boston shorthanded goal toward the closing stages of the first period would prove to be a back-breaking goal. Ultimately, the Rangers lost 4-0 and didn’t create many scoring opportunities.
The Rangers need a jolt and need to start scoring some goals. The power play looks out of ideas, while at even strength, the Rangers offense struggles to maintain offensive zone time. With the season reaching the halfway point following the conclusion of the game, the Blueshirts are running out of time to save the season. The exciting news is that Artemi Panarin, who led the Rangers in points prior to taking a leave of absence, is expected to return after missing nine games. Panarin is exactly what the Rangers need to hopefully jump start the offense.
“He’s certainly in the mix and conversation to play tomorrow,” said head coach David Quinn during his press conference with the media on Friday.
“Just his smile, the curls flowing out there and he’s high-stepping all over the ice,” said Ryan Strome. “It feels like we got the band back together.” If Panarin does play, expect him to reunite with his center, Ryan Strome.
The rest of the lineup could really be anything. The Rangers shook up the lines on Saturday and they could go with a number of different combinations. The “KZB Line” was reunited early into Saturday’s game to help limit Boston’s “Perfection Line”. And if Panarin does play, another forward will have to come out of the lineup. Kaapo Kakko had started to get some chemistry with Strome and Panarin prior to COVID protocols and Panarin’s leave of absence. Quinn was also experimenting Kakko with Filip Chytil and Alexis Lafreniere to create a kid’s line.
The Bruins could be short-handed as Brad Marchand is officially listed as questionable to play. Marchand picked up three assists in Thursday’s contest but was “banged up” and did not practice on Friday.
“He wasn’t able to practice today,” said Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy. “Hopefully he’s better tomorrow.”
Bruins starter Tuukka Rask remains out and will miss his third-straight game. But backup goaltender Jaroslav Halak is more than capable of carrying the load for Boston – especially against the Rangers. It’s no secret that Halak loves playing the Rangers and it showed on Thursday with a 27-save shutout. Halak has a career record of 24-8-1 against the Blueshirts.
The Rangers will turn to Keith Kinkaid for his second start as a Ranger. Kinkaid has seen game time due to the injury to Igor Shesterkin and the struggling play of Alex Georgiev. Georgiev has now conceded seven goals on the past 20 shots he has faced and he has been pulled in back-to-back starts. Kinkaid made 23 saves on 26 shots in a losing effort during his first start in Pittsburgh.