The New York Rangers (3-2-2) inconsistent play continues during the first month of the season as they lost another contest at home versus the Colorado Avalanche – a 3-2 loss in a shootout on Oct. 25. Their former backup goalie, Alexandar Georgiev was the star as he saved 44 of the 46 shots he faced in his return to Madison Square Garden. Igor Shesterkin performed better in the shootout loss in comparison to his previous two starts based on his save percentages (SV%) – he had a .818 SV% on Oct. 17 versus the Anaheim Ducks, a .889 SV% on Oct. 20 against the San Jose Sharks, and a .955 SV% in the contest versus the Avalanche.
However, the club has been mediocre following a solid opening night game versus the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 11 and will aim to get back on the right track against their crosstown rival, the New York Islanders (2-4-0). Backup goalie Jaroslav Halak may get the start in goal against his former club as they are playing back-to-back games.
The Islanders are in the midst of their own struggles as they have lost three consecutive games and will look to snap their losing streak versus the Rangers tonight. In order to avoid a slow start similar to last year, they need to begin winning contests as they are in last place in the Metropolitan Division and are five points behind the two teams tied for first place – the Carolina Hurricanes and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Here’s our gameday preview.
New York Rangers Projected Lineup
Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Kaapo Kakko
Artemi Panarin – Vincent Trocheck – Alexis Lafreniere
Jimmy Vesey – Barclay Goodrow – Vitali Kravtsov
Sammy Blais – Ryan Carpenter – Ryan Reaves
Ryan Lindgren – Adam Fox
K’Andre Miller – Jacob Trouba
Libor Hajek – Braden Schneider
Halak – Shesterkin
Goodrow Filling In for Chytil at Center
Goodrow has moved to the center position on the third line in the absence of Chytil. The 29-year-old forward finished the game versus the Avalanche with a goal and an assist and is looking to improve the Rangers’ defense with his two-way play, saying, “Whenever you’re going through something like this, you can always resort to going back to simple hockey. When you do that the other stuff starts to open up. We’re a little frustrated but we have what it takes in here to fix that.”
The Rangers do have the capability to get back to winning with a core of Panarin, Zibanejad, Fox, Kreider, and Shesterkin but the sense of urgency should be growing as their division is competitive in the early part of 2022-23 as they are tied with three other clubs – the Philadelphia Flyers, Washington Capitals, and New Jersey Devils and trail the Hurricanes and Penguins by one point.
New York Islanders Projected Lineup
Josh Bailey – Mathew Barzal – Oliver Wahlstrom
Anders Lee – Brock Nelson – Anthony Beauvillier
Zach Parise – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Kyle Palmieri
Matt Martin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck
Adam Pelech – Ryan Pulock
Alexander Romanov – Noah Dobson
Sebastian Aho – Scott Mayfield
Ilya Sorokin – Semyon Varlamov
Lambert Hoping for Spark Through Line Changes, Wahlstrom Moved to Top Line
Head coach Lane Lambert continues to seek the best line combinations that will help the Islanders offensively. Wahlstrom skated with the first line and will aim to capitalize on his solid start. His three goals rank second on the team and Barzal is tied for the club lead with six assists, so the combination has the potential to create some scoring opportunities.
The 22-year-old forward commented on his play so far after practice on Oct. 25, “I just need to focus on playing the right way. In the past, sometimes, I get away from the game a little bit. Just staying poised and confident and not getting away from the little things. I noticed when I do little things, I might not score the first four or five games, but you know, chances come, and the puck will eventually go in.”
Recently, Lambert has scratched players such as Josh Bailey and Anthony Beauvillier in order to find the combinations that will lead to success. He needs to determine what lines put them in the best position to succeed before they fall further behind in the division.
Players To Watch
New York Rangers – Jaroslav Halak
Halak will be seeking to rebound from a difficult game against the Columbus Blue Jackets if he receives the start this evening. He allowed five goals on the 21 shots he faced and has one other start in goal – a 4-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Oct. 14 in which he saved 30 of 33 shots. He has not received much run support during his two appearances, so the Rangers need to contribute more offense when he is playing.
New York Islanders – Oliver Wahlstrom
The young forward has a good opportunity playing on the first line with one of their top players in Barzal. He may receive more playing time in the top six if he continues to be instrumental to their success offensively.
Tonight’s game has a 7:30 PM ET start time and will be broadcast on TNT.