The Rangers return home after recording three points in Buffalo where they will host the Pittsburgh Penguins who are proving to be a real threat in the East Division (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).

RangersEast Division Ranks /8Penguins
6th  East Ranking3rd

               The Rangers are coming off a two-game set in Buffalo that raised a few eyebrows. Buffalo who is last in the NHL gave the Blueshirts a real problem. The Blueshirts held a late lead in both games only for the Sabres to tie it late in both games. In the first game, the Rangers rescued the second point on an overtime goal by Mika Zibanejad, but in the second game, the Rangers fell in a shootout and only came away with one point. Usually, you would take three points out of a possible four but with the Rangers playing the worst team in the league and trying to catch the Bruins – that one missed point could prove to be very costly.

               Vitaly Kravtsov made his debut in the second game against Buffalo and he almost came up with the game-winning goal in the final few minutes but was robbed by Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark. The ninth overall pick in the 2018 draft played 10:45 and recorded three shots.

               “The first game was hard,” Kravtsov said. “I was nervous a little bit. After the first and second period, I felt better. It’s much faster hockey.”

               Now the Rangers will have to host the Pittsburgh Penguins who have been playing some stellar hockey. Pittsburgh is 6-1-1 in their last eight games including winning three of four against the Islanders and Bruins.

               The key to the Rangers success will be to slow down the Penguins top line with Sidney Crosby flanked by Jake Guentzel and Bryan Rust. The depth for the Penguins will be tested as they will be without four forwards including Evgeni Malkin and Kasperi Kapanen. Malkin and Kapanen are currently doing off-ice rehab and are not skating.

               Another key to the Penguins success has been their defensive play over the past eight games. In six of the past eight games, Pittsburgh has only allowed two goals or fewer. Penguins’ defensemen were going down injured left, right, and center to start the season but they have since gotten healthy and have been reliable as of late.

               Colin Blackwell will rejoin the Rangers top six as head coach David Quinn wants to give that line “a different look.”

               “He (Blackwell) has got a little bit more of a Jesper Fast feel to his game than Kaapo has,” Quinn said. “To me, it’s not necessary to put all the best players together – it’s putting guys that have worked well together and having a little bit of balance and chemistry on each line.”    

               With this change to the lineup, Kaapo Kakko will join Alexis Lafreniere and Filip Chytil on the kids’ line and Kravstov will move to the fourth line with Kevin Rooney and Phil Di Giuseppe. Julien Gauthier will be a healthy scratch.

               Adam extended his point streak to ten games during the Buffalo trip. Fox has 18 points during this streak. The 23-year-old only trails Victor Hedman for most points in the league among defenders.

Projected Lineup




Di Giuseppe-Rooney-Kravtsov