The Rangers are in Carolina for their first matchup of the season with the Hurricanes. Upon conclusion of Friday night’s game, the Rangers will have hit the halfway marker for the regular season (7:00 P.M. EST, MSG).

RangersNHL RankingsHurricanes
3rdNHL Standing Rank5th

Previous Game

               After a slow start against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Blueshirts found their game and were victorious by the score of 6-3. The Rangers got two goals from Ryan Reaves and two goals from Adam Fox on route to a 3-1 comeback victory. Ryan Strome scored the game-winning goal while Chris Kreider added a late insurance marker.

               “I think the whole game they [the fourth line] were the only line that was able to get in there and forecheck and create turnovers and have sustained zone time,” said Strome. “We fed off that.”

               “It shows that we can we can hang with the big boys,” Reaves said “That we are one of the big boys.”

               Despite allowing three goals in the first period, Igor Shesterkin bounced back and would not allow a goal for the remainder of the game. The Russian goaltender made 35 saves including a breakaway save on William Nylander in the beginning of the third period. Shesterkin finished the game stopping the last 26 shots he faced.


               It was an impressive comeback against the Leafs, but now the Rangers will face their toughest test of the season in Carolina. The Hurricanes are a legit threat to win the Stanley Cup and they can beat you in so many ways. Sure, the Blueshirts fell to Colorado twice and were beaten by the Capitals on opening night, but this game is arguably their biggest game since the play-in series when they were swept by the Hurricanes. Friday night’s game gives the Rangers an opportunity to make a statement win on the road, against one of the league’s best, who just so happen to be in their division. Reaves said that the past game against the Leafs showed they could hang with the big boys and they will need to prove it again.

               Dryden Hunt is expected to return to the lineup after landing on the Injured Reserved list exactly two weeks ago. Hunt skated with Strome and Artemi Panarin on the team’s second line.

               Given how strong the fourth line played against the Leafs on Wednesday, it could prove to be rather difficult for the Blueshirts to break up the trio. This leaves one of Alexis Lafreniere, Barclay Goodrow, Filip Chytil, and Julien Gauthier as one of the healthy scratches with the latter two more likely.  Gauthier was a first-round draft pick by the Hurricanes who was later traded to the Blueshirts for Joey Keane. Head coach Gerard Gallant could opt to break up the fourth line and scratch Greg McKegg.

               After the game in Carolina, the Blueshirts will return home to take on the Arizona Coyotes the next night. With it being a back-to-back situation, expect Gallant to split the games among his two netminders. Logic points to Shesterkin playing in Carolina against a divisional opponent with Georgiev getting the start on home ice. But Gallant has thrown curveballs in the past including starting Georgiev on opening night against the Capitals. The Blueshirts struggled against the Coyotes in the first meeting by scraping together a 3-2 win. It was a game the Rangers had no business winning and Gallant could opt to play his stronger goaltender against the weaker team to give them a better shot at two points.


               The Hurricanes enter this game with a record of 11-2-1 in the past 14 games. In their last game, they defeated the Boston Bruins in Boston by a score of 7-1. Carolina has depth up and down their lineup with no weakness. The Hurricanes rank in the top five in every major category as shown in the table above.

               The biggest splash they made in the offseason was offer-sheeting Jesperi Kotkaniemi from the Montreal Canadians. Montreal did not match the offer and the former third overall selection became a Hurricane over the summer. The 21-year-old currently has 18 points in 36 games this season as he is on pace for a career year.

               Leading the Hurricanes in points is Sebastian Aho with 39 points. Carolina has an additional five players who are over 20 points including former Ranger Tony DeAngelo. DeAngelo was waived by former Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton after getting into a physical altercation with Georgiev. DeAngelo has 28 points in 29 games to open the season as he makes up the top pair with Jaccob Slavin.

               DeAngelo won’t be the only former Ranger to face his old team. In fact, the Hurricanes have quite a few former Rangers players. Brady Skjei and Brendan Smith will be on the backend for Carolina. Just a few years ago, DeAngelo, Skjei, and Smith were all key players on the Blueshirts blueline. Antti Raanta served as Henrik Lundqvist’s backup for two seasons. Raanta started 54 games before being packaged in a deal to acquire DeAngelo from the Coyotes. Upfront, Carolina has Derek Stepan who was also in that deal to acquire DeAngelo. Jesper Fast walked as a free agent and agreed to a deal with the Hurricanes. The Blueshirts will see five of their former skaters and six if Raanta gets the start.

Key to the Game

               The Blueshirts must play a complete 60 minutes. They did not do that against Toronto but they managed a comeback win. Coming back from a two-goal deficit against the Hurricanes will be a lot tougher given how stacked they are up-and-down the lineup. The Blueshirts need to treat this like a playoff game and bring that intensity they are capable of bringing. Carolina often doesn’t get the respect they deserve – probably because they don’t play in what many consider to be “a prime hockey market.” Carolina is legit and they can beat you in so many ways. The Hurricanes could end up being a first or second-round playoff matchup for the Rangers this season. Getting their confidence against a team as good as Carolina will go a long way.

Projected Lineup









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