New York Rangers Return To MSG To Take On San Jose Sharks
Oct 19, 2015; New York, NY, USA; San Jose Sharks goalie Martin Jones (31) reacts after giving up a goal against the New York Rangers during the first period of an NHL hockey game at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers return home to face the San Jose Sharks tonight. Here’s everything you need to know about tonight’s contest.

  • New York Rangers (1-1-0, 2 pts)
  • San Jose Sharks (2-0-0, 4 pts)
  • NHL, Today, 7:00 P.M. on NHL Network and MSG
  • Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

The New York Rangers have had an electric start to the 2016-17 NHL season.

The Blueshirts opened up the season with an emphatic victory over the New York Islanders by a score of 5-3 to avoid their fifth straight loss to their crosstown rivals.
The Rangers dominated the first 40 minutes of action on both ends of the ice and despite squandering a two-goal lead to start the third period, Alain Vigneault‘s squad responded with authority to ensure an opening night victory.

The Rangers then hopped on a plane and traveled to St. Louis to take on the Blues. The Blueshirts played a sloppy first two periods, which caused them to fall behind 3-2 entering the third period. The Rangers played arguably their best period of the young season, out-shooting St. Louis 15-0 in the frame.

However, Blues’ backup netminder Carter Hutton was sensational, stopping each and every puck that came his way to secure another St. Louis victory.

Overall, there hasn’t been much to complain about early on from a Rangers’ standpoint. All four forward lines have looked solid, the defense has done its’ job for the most part, and Henrik Lundqvist has been sharp between the pipes.

The Rangers will look to continue their strong start to the season when they host the San Jose Sharks on Monday night at 7 p.m. ET.

Here is how the Blueshirts could line up against last year’s Western Conference champions:

Forwards

1. Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Pavel Buchnevich
2. Jimmy Vesey – Derek Stepan – Mats Zuccarello
3. J.T. Miller – Kevin Hayes – Rick Nash
4. Jesper Fast – Brandon Pirri –Michael Grabner

Defense

1. Ryan McDonagh – Adam Clendening
2. Marc Staal – Dylan McIlrath
3. Brady Skjei – Nick Holden

The top four lines are expected to remain the same for Alain Vigneault. All four lines, especially the top trio of Kreider, Zibanejad, and Buchnevich, have done a nice job thus far.

Where we will see change is on the right side of the defense. Dan Girardi exited Saturday’s contest with a hip flexor injury that Vigneault described as “more than day-to-day” issue. With Kevin Klein‘s status still up in the air (back spasms), it will likely be Dylan McIlrath who steps in as the sixth defenseman.

At the moment, it is unknown how the Blueshirts will stack up on the blue line. Although, we saw Adam Clendening flourish alongside Ryan McDonagh in the third period against St. Louis, and we could definitely see Vigneault keep those two together as the top pair.

So far this year, we’ve seen Marc Staal and Nick Holden as the Rangers second pair. The addition of McIlrath may change that, however. Vigneault could look to split up this pair in order to keep the youngsters, Skjei and McIlrath, apart. Staal and McIlrath played together at times last year, so we could see them reunite, which would put Holden to the right of Skjei as the third pair.

It also unknown who will be in net for the Rangers. Steve Zipay of Newsday suggested that Antti Raanta could make his season debut tonight or on Wednesday against the Detroit Wednesday.

Lundqvist has done a nice job so far and Vigneault could look to keep the King rolling. I would expect Lundqvist to start against San Jose and Raanta to man the crease on Wednesday, with the two splitting the back-to-back this upcoming weekend.

Prediction:

The New York Rangers face a very tough task in the San Jose Sharks, who are very balanced up front and in the back.

In the end, though, I believe the Rangers speed will prove to be too much for the Sharks. The KZB (Kreider-Zibanejad-Buchnevich) line will continue to roll and the Blueshirt’s defense will do just enough to preserve a Rangers’ victory.

Final Score: Rangers 4, Sharks 3

NYY

NYM

NYG

NYJ

NYK

BKN

NYR

NYI

NJD

SJU