The Rangers will play their final game of the regular season when they take on the Washington Capitals – a potential first-round opponent in the playoffs (7:00, MSG)

RangersNHL RankingsCapitals
8thNHL Standing Rank13th


               After resting most of their key starters on Wednesday, the Blueshirts will return most of their key starters minus Artemi Panarin and Andrew Copp. Both will be ready at the start of the playoffs and are receiving as much rest and recovery from their minor injuries. Head coach Gerard Gallant wants to be cautious with two key pieces. Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad who both sat out the last game will return to the lineup. The first line duo has played in every game for the Rangers this season besides Wednesday. Other players returning to the lineup include Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren, and Jacob Trouba. Gallant doesn’t want the team going into the playoffs cold having not played for a week.

               One player who won’t be returning to the lineup is goaltender and team MVP Igor Shesterkin. Gallant spoke with goaltender coach Benoit Allaire and they opted to go the route of rest and preparation over one more game. With Shesterkin resting, Alex Georgiev will get the start. He will be hoping to end the Blueshirts’ three-game losing streak. Georgiev allowed four goals on 22 shots against Montreal on Wednesday.

               Tyler Motte who hasn’t played since April 7th with an upper-body injury is no closer to returning to the lineup. Gallant told the media that Motte is definitely out for the first round of the playoffs and that there is no set timetable for his return. It is possible Motte won’t return at all this season.

Playoff Opponent Scenario

               The Rangers will learn their first-round opponent upon the conclusion of the games on Friday. If the Pittsburgh Penguins get a point against the Columbus Blue Jackets, then the Penguins will play the Rangers in the opening round (Penguins own the ROW tiebreaker over Washington). If the Penguins lose in regulation, and the Capitals defeat the Rangers, then the Capitals will play the Blueshirts in the first round. The team that doesn’t play the Rangers in the opening round will open in Florida against the President’s Trophy-winning Panthers.


               Washington will be hoping to avoid the Panthers but to do that they must take care of business and get some help. But Washington is dealing with injuries to their top two forwards – Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Ovechkin will miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury. He is expected to be available for the Capitals in the playoffs. Backstrom is out due to maintenance. For what it’s worth, head coach Peter Laviolette sat Backstrom in the second half of a back-to-back earlier in April.

               Evgeny Kuznetsov will be asked to carry the offense for the Capitals. Kuznetsov will be the team’s highest scorer in the lineup with 77 points in 78 games.

               Also out of the lineup is former Ranger Carl Hagelin. Hagelin has been out since February 28th and got a second surgery on his eye last month. The 33-year-old is a key penalty killer for the Capitals.

               Anthony Mantha will be in the lineup for the Capitals. Mantha has skated in 36 games this season and recorded 23 points. Mantha had surgery on his shoulder at the beginning of the season. The only time Mantha played the Rangers this season was on opening nights.

               Ilya Samsonov will get the start for the Capitals. Samsonov has been splitting time with Vitek Vanecek this season and has often found himself as the 1B. The 25-year-old has played in just one of the Capitals’ previous four games and has allowed four goals in each of his past two starts. Samsonov has a record of 23-11-5 with a 3.02 goals-against average and a .896 save percentage.

Projected Lineup










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