The Rangers are in Colorado where they will look to get back to winning ways against a tough Avalanche squad (9:00 P.M. ET, ESPN+).
|6th||NHL Standing Rank||12th|
The Rangers were shutout 1-0 by the Nashville Predators. The Blueshirts got good goaltending from Alex Georgiev who made 23 saves in a losing effort. Georgiev has yet to allow more than two goals in any game during Igor Shesterkin’s absence. It was a very defensive game and the Rangers came close to breaking Juuse Saros’s shutout multiple times but the Finnish native was able to hang on.
“We played too soft,” said head coach Gerard Gallant. “We didn’t play a hard enough game. It was a man’s game, and we didn’t play it.”
The Blueshirts defense did a good job for the most part against the Predators and they will have to do an even better job against the Avalanche. Colorado remains the highest-scoring team in the league as they are the only team to average more than four goals per game.
Nils Lundkvist was out of the lineup due to a non-covid illness and Libor Hajek stepped in for his debut this season. Hajek will draw back into the lineup if Lundkvist isn’t able to go.
These two teams played last week and things started off well for the Rangers. They took a 2-1 lead in the first period on Lundkvist’s first career goal. It went downhill very quickly in the second period when the Rangers conceded five goals and the game was out of reach. Adam Huska made his first career start and while it wasn’t the best game he’s ever played – the defense did him no favors.
The Rangers aren’t going to win a shootout with the Avalanche. It would be very surprising if the way they defeated the Avalanche was by a score of like 6-5. The Blueshirts have to play to their strength which is keeping the puck out of their net and grinding down opponents on the forecheck. With a back-to-back set to begin in Colorado and end in Arizona, the Rangers will likely split the starts with their goaltenders. With Shesterkin’s status in doubt, it is growing more likely that Georgiev and Keith Kinkaid will split the starts. Keep an eye out for the pregame skate at 1:30EST to see if Shesterkin will be available.
Colorado enters this game as winners of four-in-a-row and points in six straight games. However, this Avalanche team will be looking a bit different from the team the Rangers saw just a week ago. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will be out of the lineup with a lower-body injury. Landeskog makes up a third of arguably the best first line in the NHL with Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen. Andre Burakovsky filled in for Landeskog in their previous game over Florida and he didn’t disappoint. The Avalanche defeated the Panthers and the Russian winger scored all three goals for his first career hat trick.
The injury news got worse as they lost Jacob Macdonald against the Panthers after he was stretchered off the ice after a hit from Ryan Lomberg. Nazem Kadri, a staple of the second line in Colorado, missed the game with a lower-body injury and his status is questionable for Tuesday night. Defenseman Ryan Murray remains out of the lineup with a lower-body injury while the former number fourth overall pick Bowen Byram continues to suffer from post-concussion syndrome.
Darcy Kuemper has been consistent the past few games and has given Colorado a chance to win in each one. Kuemper allowed three goals on 29 shots in the first meeting against the Rangers. Head coach Jared Bednar could also opt to start Pavel Francouz as he is finally healthy for the Avalanche. Francouz hasn’t played since March 11th, 2020. That was the last day before the sports world shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Francouz got the win in overtime against the Rangers oddly enough. The 31-year-old last NHL game came against the Dallas Stars on August 30th, 2020 in the Edmonton bubble.
What to watch
The Rangers need to play a complete game as they haven’t done that over the past few. They need to play a full 60 minutes and establish the forecheck. The best way to keep the Avalanche off the scoring sheet is to keep them in their defensive zone. Think of it like this – the best way to stop Tom Brady from scoring points in a football game is if you can keep your offense on the field. The best way to stop the Avalanche from scoring and scoring a lot against you is to keep them in the defensive zone and make them go 200ft every time.