The Rangers will play in the second leg of a back-to-back in Boston after having a very emotional couple of days (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).
|Rangers||East Division Ranks /8||Bruins|
It’s been a very emotional 48-hour span that players don’t often go through. To recap:
- Tom Wilson sucker punches Pavel Buchnevich who is in a defenseless position and proceeds to injure Artemi Panarin during a very dangerous play that could have resulted in a very serious career-threatening injury… or worse.
- The NHL fines Tom Wilson $5000 but elects to not suspend him.
- The Rangers release a statement calling the head of player safety George Parros “unfit to continue in his current role.” The statement was mostly well backed by fans around the league but other NHL executives and general managers weren’t fans of it. The Blueshirts were eventually fined $250,000 for the statement.
- Rangers’ owner James Dolan fires Rangers President John Davidson and Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton.
- Dolan announces that effective immediately – Chris Drury is now the permanent president and general manager.
- Rangers are involved in the first-period incident which involved six fights and 100 penalty minutes as a response to Wilson getting away with no suspension.
If the National Hockey League wanted ratings for Wednesday Night’s nationally televised game, then their expectations were more than exceeded. The hockey world’s eyes were on the Rangers to see their response to Wilson and the recent firings. And people tuning in just to “see what would happen” got their expectations met immediately when there was a line brawl literally one second into the game. Colin Blackwell fought Carl Hagelin, Kevin Rooney fought Nic Dowd and Phil Di Giuseppe fought Garnet Hathaway. The fighting wouldn’t stop there as the moment Tom Wilson stepped onto the ice, Brendan Smith immediately went after him and those two had a tango. Anthony Bitetto would fight Michael Raffl and Ryan Strome would take on Lars Eller. All of these fights took place four minutes and 14 seconds into the first period.
The bright spots of the game were Alexis Lafreniere recording his 11th goal of the season off a nice feed from Filip Chytil and Morgan Barron recording his first career NHL goal even if it was in garbage time.
Everything that happened during this game including Buchnevich cross-checking Anthony Mantha to the face is all because of the NHL and Parros. This whole thing could have been mostly prevented had the NHL suspended Wilson – even if it was for just one game. Buchnevich has been suspended for Thursday night’s game against the Bruins.
“I had no beef with anybody else on their team,” Smith said. “I thought that it should have been handled before this game, and it wasn’t so. Unfortunately, it had to be kind of on my shoulders, and I thought I took it.”
“When something like that happens, it certainly speaks volume to how these guys want to play for each other and care for each other in difficult circumstances,” said head coach David Quinn. “We all saw what happened the other night – nobody is happy about it. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”
Many have wondered where Quinn stands in the organization after the firings of Davidson and Gorton. With reports stating that Dolan was not happy with how the season has gone and how they were rag-dolled in recent games – many have speculated he could be next following these final two games in Boston.
“Obviously, at the right time, myself, Chris (Drury), and Mr. Dolan should certainly sit down and talk about every aspect of the organization, and coaching will be one of them,” said Quinn.
Drury was asked about Quinn’s future during a press conference on Thursday morning and he said, “I’m certainly not going to sit here and talk about anyone’s job status in the organization publicly.” Drury did not commit to Quinn beyond the remainder of this season.
The Rangers have called up Jonny Brodzinski, Tim Gettinger, and Justin Richards from the Hartford Wolf Pack. Along with Buchnevich being suspended, Drury indicated that someone else may be injured.
Igor Shesterkin is expected to get the start. Shesterkin sat out against the Capitals on Wednesday. He’ll take on rookie goaltender Jeremy Swayman who has inserted himself into the Bruins rotation. Swayman holds a record of 5-2-0 with a 1.62 goals against average and a .942 save percentage.
It is important that the Rangers play these last two games hard as basically everyone will be reevaluated under the Drury regime. The Blueshirts have currently lost four games in a row and would like to end the season on a higher note.
Out of the lineup for the Rangers against the Bruins will be Panarin, Buchnevich, Ryan Lindgren, Jacob Trouba, and possibly another forward who could be injured. Julien Gauthier left Wednesday’s game and did not return with a lower-body injury. Chris Kreider is day-to-day and it’s unknown if he will come back this season.