Home » Away Games » New York Rangers Conclude Opening Season Road Trip in Columbus

               After defeating the Sabres in Buffalo on Thursday night, the Blueshirts travel to Columbus where they will conclude an opening season two-game road trip (7:00PM on MSG).

RangersNHL RankingsBlue Jackets
14thNHL Standing Rank20th
8th  GF/PG19th
15th (Top 15 have 100%)PK%4th

Previous Game

               The Blueshirts started the first game of the season in style by defeating Buffalo 5-1. Alexis Lafreniere recorded the opening goal, while Chris Kreider had a pair of goals on the night. Artemi Panarin and Jacob Trouba were the other goal scorers for New York. Panarin’s line with Lafreniere, and Filip Chytil was the most dangerous line for the Rangers as they looked threatening each shift. Panarin will look to ride the momentum as he will hear the boo birds against his former team.

Columbus Blue Jackets

               The Blue Jackets had a wild offseason that did not go exactly according to plan. Columbus started the postseason by trading for defenseman Ivan Provorov from Philadelphia in a three-way trade. Columbus will be hoping the 26-year-old can bolster the defensive core after coming with a 4.75-million-dollar cap hit after retention.

Next, Columbus drafted Adam Fantilli from the University of Michigan with the third overall pick of the draft. Fantilli is a 6’2 center who won the Hobey Baker Award (best player in college hockey) during his draft year. The 19-year-old made the roster right out of training camp and currently centers the Blue Jackets third line.  

In the offseason, Columbus hired Mike Babcock to be their next head coach after letting go of Brad Larsen. Babcock was under a microscope due to old school coaching techniques not deemed appropriate in today’s society and rightfully so. During his time in Toronto, Babcock asked a player to rank his teammates from most hardworking to least hardworking amongst them and he shared it with the entire team. Another old school technique involved seeing personal photos on players phones.

And just a couple weeks before the NHL season was due to kick off, Babcock resigned as head coach prior to the start of the season after a report stated he was asking to see players phones. The 60-year-old and captain Boone Jenner denied the report stating that the coach only asked to see photos of the players families to bond with his team.

“Upon reflection, it has become clear that continuing as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets was going to be too much of a distraction,” said Babcock. “While I’m disappointed to not have had the opportunity to continue the work we’ve begun, I know it’s in the best interest of the organization for me to step away at this time…”

With Babcock now out of the picture, the Blue Jackets turned to 52-year-old Pascal Vincent as their next head coach. Vincent was an assistant coach on Larsen’s staff and he spent four years with the AHL team in the Blue Jackets organization.

“He was a strong candidate for our head coaching position several months ago and is in the best position to help us navigate this change as we begin camp and lead our team moving forward,” said General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen.

New York Rangers vs Blue Jackets

               The Blueshirts are expected to make one small lineup change as they take on Columbus. Jimmy Vesey is expected to make his season debut as Tyler Pitlick will be a healthy scratch. Igor Shesterkin was the first goalie off the ice for the Rangers at Friday practice. In his season debut, the Russian netminder made 24 saves on 25 shots. Shesterkin has a career record of 4-1-0 with a .952 save percentage against Columbus. The 27-year-old is currently undefeated in the city of Columbus.

               Zach Werenski missed most of last after suffering a torn labrum in November of 2022. On Thursday night, his first game back since the injury, the 26-year-old suffered a knee-on-knee hit with Flyers forward Garnet Hathaway and was unable to get off the ice under his own power. Werenski was helped off the ice with trainers and later diagnosed with a quad contusion which is expected to sideline him for one or two weeks.

               Johnny Gaudreau led the Blue Jackets in points last season with 74, but he was a minus 33 on the season. The 30-year-old was held scoreless against the Flyers and was a minus two on the night.

               While the Blue Jackets current superstar didn’t get off to the best start, their former superstar Panarin had an impactful season opener as he recorded a goal and assist. Expect the Russian winger to hear it from the crowd every time he touches the puck on Saturday night. Panarin left Columbus as a free agent and took less money to play for the Rangers.

               Elvis Merzlikins is in line to get the start for the Blue Jackets. While the score read 4-2 on the scoreboard, Merzlikins allowed just two goals on 35 shots as the Flyers scored two empty net goals on the evening. The Latvian goaltender will need to be as good as he was on Thursday with Werenski out of the lineup.

Bet of the Night

               Last bet: Won! The bet of the night was the under on 6.5 goals which hit as there were six goals as predicted.

               Tonight’s bet: It worked once so let us do it twice! The bet being taken for Saturday is the under on 6.5 goals at -108. Three of the four games last season went under 6.5 goals while the Blue Jackets recorded just two against Philadelphia. With each team projecting to start their best goalie – this could be a low enough scoring affair where the under hits again.

               Current Record: 1-0

Projected Lineup










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