The New York Rangers have been nothing short of spectacular this season. They currently lead the NHL in points, despite missing goalie Henrik Lundqvist for a long stretch of time. King Henrik is back now, trying to shake the rust off in time for the playoffs to start.
The Columbus Blue Jackets come into Madison Square Garden tonight, winners of a franchise best 9 games in a row. Although they have already been eliminated from playoff contention, the Blue Jackets haven’t quit on this season. Instead, they have been the ones playing like a playoff contender. They have embraced the role of the spoiler well, and look to add the Rangers to their long list of recent victims.
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Blue Jackets/Rangers Growing Rivalry
Anytime these 2 teams meet, something usually happens. Whether it is Rick Nash and Sergei Bobrovsky meeting in the goalie crease, or Curtis McElhinney being booed by the MSG crowd, the game usually lives up to the hype. This rivalry only continues to grow. A new chapter in the building rivalry will be added tonight.
Tonight’s game takes on extra meaning for the Rangers. They have 107 points. The Ducks also have 107 points, but have played 2 more games than the Rangers. The Rangers are looking to wrap up the President’s Trophy, which would give them home ice advantage throughout the playoffs. The Blue Jackets would love nothing more than to ruin those plans.
The Rangers also need to be concerned about the Montreal Canadiens. Montreal sits only 1 point back, but have also played in 2 more games. Both Montreal and Anaheim wouldn’t mind seeing the Blue Jackets deal the Rangers a blow tonight.
The Rangers hold a 2-1 advantage in the season series to this point, while the Blue Jackets have gone 1-1-1. The Blue Jackets won the 1st meeting in Columbus 5-2. The Rangers returned the favor by winning 2-1. In their last meeting, the Rangers held off the Blue Jackets in a shootout 4-3 at the Garden. The games are usually close, and decided late.
Revisiting The Trade
Of course, one cannot talk about this rivalry without talking about the trade. The Blue Jackets dealt Rick Nash to the Rangers, in exchange for Brandon Dubinsky, Atrem Anisimov, Tim Erixon (now in Toronto), and a 1st round pick (Kerby Rychel). The trade has worked out for both sides, especially the Rangers.
Now that Nash has settled in, he is having his best season as a Ranger. He comes into tonight with 42 goals, tied for 2nd in the league with Steven Stamkos. He’s been outstanding on both ends of the rink, and is a main reason why the Rangers are in position to win the President’s trophy.
On the other side, Brandon Dubinsky has become one of the faces of the Blue Jackets. His energy and passion are well documented. When he is in the lineup, the Blue Jackets are a winning team. When healthy, Artem Anisimov has been a nice contributor to the Blue Jackets. When he is hot, not many can stop him. The best part of the trade just might be Kerby Rychel. He’s been out due to a concussion, but many consider him to be the best of the Blue Jackets 2013 draft picks. He should be an NHL regular in a season or two.
This game tonight has got it all. You like rivalries? This game is for you. Want to see how good Columbus really is? Tune in tonight. They’ll give the Rangers all they can handle. They usually do. This rivalry will soon be talked about as one of the best the NHL has. And that’s just fine with both teams.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.