How will the Rangers follow up their perfect road trip?
After a mediocre week one, the New York Rangers went on a road trip that went perfectly for them, even without key top-six forwards Kaapo Kakko and Ryan Strome.
The Rangers are back home on Monday and the good news is that Strome is out of COVID-19 protocol and Kakko is also nearing his return. How long can the Rangers keep their hot streak going?
Vs. Flames, 10/25:
The Rangers kick this week off at Madison Square Garden, when they will host the Calgary Flames on Monday. This could be the Rangers’ most difficult game in over a week.
The Flames have played just four games, but have looked really good, so far. They’re 2-1-1 and won their last two games. The Flames look pretty good in their own zone, but their real strength has been their scoring.
The Rangers are going to have to watch out for Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm, in particular, and can’t blindly rely on Igor Shesterkin to play superhero in net.
During their winning streak, the Rangers didn’t look particularly great offensively and must be better in their opponents’ zone moving forward, but their goaltending and defense were excellent.
That’s going to be very important for them on Monday night.
If Strome is back in the lineup on Monday, this is what the Rangers should look like on the ice:
Players to watch based on career numbers vs. Calgary:
Adam Fox: 1 GP, 3 A
Adam Fox has played just one game against the team that drafted him, but he did record an impressive three assists in that single game.
Fox has been on fire this season. Undoubtedly the team’s best player so far, the reigning Norris Trophy-winner is tearing it up on the ice, offensively and defensively. It will be more surprising if he doesn’t get on the score sheet on Monday than otherwise.
Artemiy Panarin: 11 GP, 2 G, 9 PTS
The Rangers’ other superstar, Panarin, has yet to really get going. Being reunited with Strome should definitely help him, so should the fact that he’s had success against the Flames throughout his career.
Panarin getting some points this game shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially if he’s back on a line with his buddy.
Vs. Blue Jackets, 10/29:
The Rangers will have a nice three-day break before playing their second game of the week. They host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night before heading back on the road.
The Blue Jackets have cooled down a bit since starting off the season as arguably the best team in the league. However, for a team that finished the 2021 season as one of the absolute worst in the NHL, they’re doing pretty well.
The Blue Jackets didn’t have a great week defensively and scored just five goals in three games. The Rangers have to take advantage of both of these facts. This could be the game that ignites the offense, which hasn’t been up to par.
Players to watch based on career numbers vs. Columbus:
Adam Fox: 3 GP, 2 A
The sample size for Fox against Columbus is also a small one, but he’s played well in his three career games against them, recording two assists.
If Fox stays hot, he should have no issue keeping up his great play in this game, too. He should be especially noticeable at both ends of the ice in this one.
Artemiy Panarin: 7 GP, 5 G (2 PP), 9 PTS
Panarin has had great success in the seven games he’s played against his former team. He’s averaged over a point per game and has a whopping five goals in seven meetings. He’s absolutely another Ranger to watch on Friday.
Jacob Trouba: 15 GP, 3 G, 11 PTS
Trouba really likes to put up points against the Blue Jackets. As he gets better and better this season, like Fox, he’s a player to watch at both ends of the ice against Columbus.
At Kraken, 10/31:
The Rangers will visit the league’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken, on Halloween. This will be a nice way to end the week.
Playing a new team in their new arena will be exciting and the fact that the Kraken have been struggling lately is icing on the cake.
The Kraken are still establishing their identity, but their defense has been poor. The Rangers must capitalize on this glaring weakness.
This is not a game the surging Blueshirts should let slip away from them, given how well they’ve been playing and how significantly the Kraken have been struggling.