Welcome to New York Rangers Weekly! The Rangers have two games remaining on their five-game road trip – tonight against the San Jose Sharks and Saturday vs. the Philadelphia Flyers. The team has had mixed results out West so far as they lost to the Vegas Golden Knights, 5-1, on Jan. 6 and responded with a 4-1 win against the Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 8. The Rangers’ last game on Jan. 10 was a 3-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings and the team will be looking to get a win at the SAP Center in San Jose this evening. Let’s take a look at some of the news surrounding the Rangers this week.
Schneider Assigned to Rangers, Lundkvist Sent to Wolf Pack
Braden Schneider was recalled from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL) on Tuesday. Nils Lundkvist, Tarmo Reunanen, and Tyler Wall were sent to the Wolf Pack. Schneider has nine assists in 24 games for the AHL team in 2021-22 and the Rangers are looking to try new players on the third defensive pairing. The current head coach of the Wolf Pack, Kris Knoblauch, has filled in as the temporary Rangers head coach since Gerard Gallant was placed in COVID protocol on Jan. 9. Knoblauch is familiar with Schneider from coaching him this year.
Lundkvist has been average during his rookie year for the Rangers, but it makes sense that he was assigned to the Wolf Pack as the coaching staff is looking for more production from the third defensive pair. The 21-year-old played in 25 games for the Rangers and had one goal and three assists. Knoblauch wanted to see what Schneider could do in the NHL.
“Whether it’s short term or long term, I’m just trying to seize every opportunity I get. Whether that’s in a practice or in a game. I’m just going to go out there and do what I do best. I want to show that I’m able to play at this level and I want to show that I belong here. So, if I can keep improving my game each day, I think that’s the main goal is still to try to get 1 percent better each day and keep a positive mindset while doing it.” (from ‘Highly touted prospect Braden Schneider is getting his Rangers chance, New York Post, 1/12/22) He was paired with Patrik Nemeth during practice, which is an indication that will be the third defensive pairing for the Blueshirts tonight.
Lafreniere to be on Rangers Second Line With Panarin and Strome
Alexis Lafreniere has had an inconsistent season in 2021-22 for the Rangers as he has been paired on several line combinations in order to increase his offensive production. He was on the second line with Ryan Strome and Barclay Goodrow while Artemi Panarin was in health and safety protocols earlier this month. Lafreniere will be playing right wing with Panarin back from COVID protocol.
Lafreniere commented on adjusting to his new position, “I have to adjust my game a little bit playing right wing, it’s a little bit different, but I’ll try to adjust as quick as I can and try to be ready for every game. It’s really fun [playing on that line], obviously [Panarin] is one of the best players in the league, so just to be able to be on the ice with him is good. I played left wing my whole life, so obviously I was more comfortable there, but I’m ready to adjust and change to right wing and try to play the best hockey I can. It’s obviously a little bit different coming back into your own end, and it might take a couple of games, but I’m comfortable with it.” (from ‘Alexis Lafreniere goes to right wing to stick in Rangers’ top six, New York Post, 1/12/22)
Players in COVID Protocol, Hunt Out With Injury
In addition to Gallant, Ryan Reaves was placed in health and safety protocols on Jan. 8 and Barclay Goodrow has been in COVID protocol since Monday. Reaves and Julien Gauthier are eligible to come back based on the updated NHL health and safety protocols but have not been cleared yet. Igor Shesterkin was cleared Thursday afternoon. The earliest Goodrow and the Rangers head coach could return to the lineup would be on Saturday vs. the Flyers.
Dryden Hunt was placed on injured reserve last Friday with an upper-body injury. He was injured during last Thursday’s game against the Golden Knights. He has played in 35 games and has three goals and four assists in 2021-22.
The Rangers will look to get a victory tonight while their head coach remains in COVID protocol. Lafreniere has another opportunity to make the most of playing on the second line with Panarin and Strome. The Sharks are tied with the Kings for third place in the Pacific Division with 41 points each. The time for tonight’s game between the Rangers and Sharks is 10:30 EST.