The Rangers head to Columbus to play the Blue Jackets for the second time this season in the first game of a back-to-back.
The New York Rangers had a nice, lengthy break after notching an unlikely victory against the best team in the NHL, the Florida Panthers.
On Monday, the Rangers became the first team to defeat the Panthers in regulation time, but it wasn’t a pretty win. The Panthers scored three unanswered goals and the Rangers were forced to rely on goalie Igor Shesterkin’s heroics, once again.
According to the standings, the Rangers are one of the best teams in the league. But that can be attributed to good defense and outstanding goaltending.
The offense is struggling and the team, as a whole, is still trying to build an identity under new head coach Gerard Gallant. Saturday’s game should serve as a big step in the right direction.
The Rangers will be facing the Blue Jackets for the second time this season, this time in Columbus. On Oct. 29, the Rangers recorded a dominant 4-0 win against the Blue Jackets at home.
RHD Adam Fox was the best player in that game, notching three assists and playing a great defensive game.
Goalie Igor Shesterkin was outstanding, as well, recording 31 saves on 31 shots. LW Artemiy Panarin also had three assists and Chris Kreider scored two goals.
Since that game, the Blue Jackets have gone 3-1, beating the New Jersey Devils and the Colorado Avalanche twice. Their game against the Rangers will be the second of a back-to-back: they lost 4-3 to the Washington Capitals on Friday.
The Blue Jackets have been in good form lately and are a much better team than they were a season ago, but the Rangers are the favorites.
Unlike Columbus, they’ve had several days of rest and the Blue Jackets are still without Patrik Laine, arguably their best player.
Offensively and on the power play, the Rangers have struggled but are better than the Blue Jackets. Even though the Rangers have been good in their own zone and on the penalty kill, the Blue Jackets have been better.
They’re one of the very best defensive teams in the NHL and have a better penalty kill than the Rangers, so the Rangers will have their work cut out for them.
Even so, the Rangers need to win this game and showed that they’re capable of scoring against Columbus this season.
Blue Jackets players to watch:
RW Oliver Bjorkstrand
This season: 11 GP, 5 G (2 PP), 14 PTS
Career vs. NYR: 14 GP, 5 G, 11 PTS
RW Jakub Voráček
This season: 11 GP, 11 A
Career vs. NYR: 49 GP, 15 G (4 PP), 41 PTS
LW Max Domi
Career vs. NYR: 12 GP, 4 G (1 PP), 9 PTS
Rangers players to watch:
LW Chris Kreider
This season: 13 GP, 9 G (6 PP), 12 PTS
LW Artemiy Panarin
This season: 13 GP, 2 G (1 PP), 13 PTS
Career vs. CBJ: 8 GP, 5 G (2 PP), 12 PTS
C Mika Zibanejad
This season: 13 GP, 4 G (2 PP), 12 PTS
RHD Jacob Trouba
Career vs. CBJ: 16 GP, 3 PPG, 11 PTS
RHD Adam Fox
This season: 13 GP, 3 G (1 SH), 13 PTS
Career vs. CBJ: 4 GP, 5 A