After coming off a shootout victory against the Minnesota Wild, the Rangers will host the Dallas Stars in their second-straight game against a Central Division team (7:00 P.M. on MSG).

RangersNHL RankingsStars
9thNHL Standing Rank6th
16th GF/PG6th

Rangers vs Stars

               On Thursday night, the Rangers will take on the Dallas Stars in an East vs West showdown. In the previous game, Chris Kreider left in the third period and did not return. Kreider’s injury was ruled an upper-body injury. Head coach Gerard Gallant doesn’t Kreider will be out long-term.

               It’s next man up mentality for the Rangers and getting an enormous opportunity is Alexis Lafreniere. The 21-year-old currently has 18 points in 41 games. Lafreniere will feature on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Kaapo Kakko. Earlier in the season, Gallant ran with this line combination for a few games and they were very dangerous as a trio. The Rangers will be hoping this combination can continue to be dangerous after being reunited together.

               Another key area to keep an eye on is the Rangers top power-play unit. Lafreniere is expected to open on the top unit and take Kreider’s spot down low and in front of the goalie. The former first overall pick has never had top power-play time until Thursday night. It will be interesting to see if Lafreniere’s timing will be in sync with Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox. One of Kreider’s best attributes on the power-play is screening the goalie and timing when to get out of the way at just the right moment. This is the biggest opportunity the Quebec native has had in his NHL career with Kreider out of the lineup.

               The Blueshirts made a waiver claim on Wednesday when they acquired Jake Leschyshyn from Vegas. Leschyshyn was a second-round pick by Vegas in 2017. At 5’11, Leschyshyn has played in 22 games for the Golden Knights but didn’t record a single point. Last season, he recorded 27 points in 37 games in the AHL for the Henderson Silver Knights. The 23-year-old is under contract for another two years at just over 750k per season and is expected to battle for a fourth-line role. Leschyshyn has won 51.75% of his faceoffs this season. The Blueshirts won’t have to make a roster move until Kreider is ready to return to the lineup.

               “It’s a huge opportunity for me to get a second chance and try to prove myself,” said Leschyshyn.

               “Character kid, works hard, competitive,” said Gallant on why the Rangers claimed him. “He did really well in the minors last year and had good numbers, but he’s a role player that kills penalties and works hard and plays that defensive game.” Leschyshyn isn’t expected to be in the lineup Thursday night.

               The Rangers will have a tough game against the quietly good Dallas Stars. The Stars have gone under the radar this year and are a team that isn’t being talked about enough. Dallas has no weak spots in their game and they sit in the top-six in the four major categories as outlined in the table above. Now coached by Peter Deboer, the Stars currently sit atop the Central Division.

               When you think of Dallas, you think of their two aging veterans in Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn. Both have had outstanding careers and are still key contributors for the Stars. Benn has 37 points in 42 games while Seguin has 27 points in 42 games. Another veteran that has been flourishing under Deboer is Joe Pavelski who has 40 points and features on the top line.

               But Dallas is now being led by youth and the trio they rely on is Jason Robertson, Roope Hintz, and Miro Heiskanen on defense. Robertson is having a breakout year and has 29 goals and 29 assists in 42 games played. The 23-year-old is currently fourth in the NHL in goal scoring as he looks to hit the 30-goal benchmark on Thursday night.

               Hintz is currently out of the lineup with an undisclosed injury and he didn’t make the trip to New York. Dallas defeated the Islanders 2-1 in a shootout on Tuesday without Hintz.

               Making his return to New York is former Rangers top prospect Nils Lundkvist. Lundkvist was drafted by the Rangers, but couldn’t crack the squad on Gallant. The young defenseman was traded to Dallas in exchange for a couple of draft picks including a first-round pick. Lundkvist currently has 12 points on the season and plays on a line with veteran defenseman Ryan Suter.

Goalie Matchup

               The great goalies will have a duel as Igor Shesterkin is set to faceoff against Jake Oettinger. The two goalies are two of the best in the world who can steal a game for their teams. Shesterkin is 19-6-6 with a .916 save percentage whereas Oettinger is 19-6-3 with a .923 save percentage. This has the potential to be a low scoring affair between the two teams on Broadway.

What to Watch

               Two things to keep an eye on will be the Rangers ability to win faceoffs and draw penalties. The Blueshirts still aren’t where they want to be on the faceoff dot, but they are improving compared to previous seasons. Dallas currently is the third best faceoff team in the league at 54.9%. Dallas also averages 9.6 penalty minutes which means the Rangers could see themselves with a lot of opportunities on Thursday night. If they get these opportunities, keep an eye on Lafreniere’s involvement on the man-advantage.

Projected Lineup










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