The Rangers take to the road for the first time this year. Tonight, they start a four-game, eight-night road trip against the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Rangers are coming off of a disappointing loss at home to the New Jersey Devils. The Rangers put 50 shots on goal, but it was not enough to take home the W. Following the loss, Coach Quinn is once again juggling up the lines.
Here is what he had to say about that:
“We’ve got some new pieces in our top six, so we’re trying to figure out the best combination.”— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 21, 2021
Coach Quinn on lineup alterations and hitting the road for the first time this season. ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/RwR5dCwI12
Moving Alexis Lafreniere up to the first line to play with Zibanejad and Kreider could be just what the young phenom needs to kick start his season. Lafreniere is still without a point on the season. I see that changing this weekend if he stays on the top line and follows Zibanejad’s lead.
The Match Up
This weekend, the Rangers and Penguins will play a two-game set Friday and Sunday night. The Rangers come into the weekend 1-2-0. Not the best of starts when your first three games are at home. The Penguins come into the game 2-2-0. Pittsburgh got off to a slow start dropping their first two games on the road in Philadelphia. They turned it around sweeping a two-game series with the Capitals earlier this week. Winning one game in overtime and the other in a shoot-out. The Rangers and Pens met only once last year due to the shortened season. The Rangers won 3-2 in overtime. Kaapo Kakko scored two goals including the OT game-winner.
Penguins Game Notes
The man to watch in Pittsburgh is still number 87. Sidney Crosby is off to another strong start this year. In four games played he has three goals and two assists. The 33-year-old has excelled in career numbers against the Rangers. In 67 career games, he has 33 goals, 56 assists and 89 points. Good for a 1.3 point average per game played against them. Starting in goal tonight for Pittsburgh is Tristin Jarry. Jarry is off to a rough start this season. In his two games this year, both against the Flyers, he got lit up for nine goals. He got pulled just 11 minutes into the second game of the year. After letting in 3 goals on just 6 shots.
Rangers Game Notes
With the new top six lineup, we’ll see how the new lines mesh. On the top line, it will be interesting to see how Lafreniere performs after getting promoted to play alongside Zibanejad and Kreider. I think this is the move that sparks him and he plays well tonight. I don’t know if we see him score his first NHL goal tonight but I think he gets on the score sheet for the first time. The second line has a new look with Pavel Buchnevich added. Ryan Strome is off to a slow start this year so maybe Buch can spark him. Buch has played very well the last two games and he and Panarin have become very good friends. Let’s hope that off-ice chemistry translates to on-ice production. Here are some thoughts from Mika on the lineup change and playing with Lafreniere.
“I think he’s very mature for his age. The speed he plays at and the way he sees the ice – I really like what I see from him.”— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) January 21, 2021
Mika on what Alexis could bring to the table alongside him and Kreider: pic.twitter.com/W15D7HMvhi
Tony DeAngelo is out of the dog house and back in the lineup tonight. DeAngelo, regardless of his off-the-ice distractions, is a top-four defenseman. It looks like Quinn has decided to scratch Brenden Smith instead of Jack Johnson. Smith played well in his two games this year, I think much better than Johnson. I know a lot of Rangers fans will not be happy seeing number 27 back out there tonight. Igor Shesterkin will be back in goal for the Rangers tonight. Igor played well last game against the Devils after a rough opening night. He relieved Georgiev at the start of the third period and stopped all 8 shots he saw. This will be his first career game against the Penguins.
Before practice yesterday, the Rangers reassigned Morgan Barron and Matthew Robertson from the team’s taxi squad to Hartford. The Wolfpack announced yesterday they will open the season on February 7th. They will play just a 24 game season and only play against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and Providence Bruins. Playing each team 12 times.