Already confirmed to be without veteran D Dan Girardi with a “more than a day-to-day” issue, per head coach Alain Vigneault, the New York Rangers also found out they would be without rookie Pavel Buchenvich for Monday’s game.
As a result, Dylan McIlrath and Josh Jooris will be in the lineup for the first time this season, as the Rangers welcome in the defending Western Champion San Jose Sharks to Madison Square Garden (7:00 PM, MSG/NHL Network).
The Rangers enter tonight with 1-1-0 mark, the win coming at MSG last Thursday night against the New York Islanders. They’re playing their second consecutive Western Conference opponent, as they took on the Sharks’ Western Conference Final opponent, St. Louis on Saturday night. Despite outshooting the Blues 18-0 in the 3rd period, the Rangers fell in a 3-2 final. Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad had goals for the Rangers.
Meanwhile, San Jose enters undefeated at 2-0-0, victorious on Saturday night in a visit to Columbus. Mikkel Boedker and Joel Ward provided first period scores, while Patrick Marleau put in the eventual game winner in the third. Perviously, San Jose topped in-state rival Los Angeles 2-1 in their season premiere at home.
This will be the first of two meetings between the Rangers and Sharks this season. The two teams split their pair last season, each defending their home ice with a win. The Rangers won 4-0 on October 19 at MSG. Marc Staal, Mats Zuccarello and Jesper Fast all had goals. The Shark got their revenge at home at SAP Center, winning 4-1 behind a trio of goals in the third period. Ward had two goals, and Tomas Hertl added three assists. Dan Boyle, who retired as a Shark this offseason, had the lone Ranger goal. The two teams will complete this season’s set on March 28 in San Jose
McIlrath will take the ice for the Rangers for the first time this season, projected to be paired with Brady Skjei on the third defensive line. McIlrath played 35 games, including one in the postseason, last year, tallying 2 goals and 2 assists and a +/- of 7. Jooris is slated to take a spot on the fourth forward line, flanked by fellow newcomers Brandon Pirri and Michael Grabner, each of whom has already tallied a goal. Jooris, 26, signed with the Rangers this offseason after a couple of years in Calgary. Last season, he tallied 13 points in 59 games.
In addition to Buchnevich and Girardi, the Rangers will still be missing Kevin Klein (back spasms) for the third consecutive game. Klein was seen wearing a contact jersey at Rangers practice earlier today, but was considered a long shot to play on Monday night.
Another Ranger set to make his 2016-17 debut is Antti Raanta, who ironically also made his season debut last season against San Jose at MSG. Raanta posted a 22 save shutout in the Rangers’ win, the fourth of his career. San Jose is expected to counter with Martin Jones (2-0-0, 1.50 GAA).
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