After suffering two heartbreaking defeats to the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers travel to Buffalo for a two-game set with the intention of leaving at .500 (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).

RangersEast Division Ranks /8Sabres
8thEast Ranking7th

               The abbreviated season just kept getting weirder and going south on Sunday night. The Rangers suffered a heartbreaking lost after a Jake Guentzel one-timer squeezed through Igor Shesterkin. Prior to that, an off angle shot from the boards found its way by Shesterkin after he reacted very late. The Blueshirts have now conceded a handful of goals this season where on another day – they are getting saved.

Ultimately, the Blueshirts trailed for just 91 seconds for the entire game, but unfortunately, it was the final 91 seconds. The two Rangers goals came from Colin Blackwell who made his Ranger debut and Ryan Strome who scored his first of the season.

With this defeat, the Blueshirts have been on a skid in their last ten games going back to last season. Including an overtime defeat to the Colorado Avalanche and a loss to the Islanders in the bubble before playoffs, the Rangers are 1-7-2 over the past ten games. While a 1-3-1 record to start the year is not good, the Blueshirts have played some pretty good hockey over the past four games. Unfortunately, they have just one win to show for it.

“You can sit here and talk about some of the good things we did and the chances we had the third period, but you’ve got to win hockey games…,” said head coach David Quinn.

The Rangers will travel to Buffalo for a two-game set where they hope they can begin to turn things around. But they will be without Filip Chytil who was arguably their best player against the Penguins. Chytil had an incidental collision with Evan Rodrigues and left the game with an upper-body injury. Chytil flew back to New York where he was evaluated by doctors. There is currently no update on his condition, but he will likely miss the two games in Buffalo at the minimum. With Chytil out, Brett Howden will likely get the opportunity to center the third line.

“If we do lose him for an extended period of time, it is going to be a blow,” said Quinn. “But every team in the league has suffered injuries, and we’re no different….”

With the young Czech not in the lineup, the Rangers will have to rely even more on their top-six which has been underwhelming to start the season. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider have got off to a slow start with just a combined three points to open the year. Quinn could elect to throw the lines in the blender after five games. Only Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich have not been underwhelming but one could still expect more from Panarin. The “Breadman” has six points in five games to open the season.

The only lines set to remain the same will be the Blueshirt’s top-four defense pairs. Adam Fox, Ryan Lindgren, Jacob Trouba, and K’Andre Miller have formed a formidable two pairings. The issue comes with the bottom pair that has struggled with different personnel. Tony DeAngelo found himself scratched for two games and yet to register a point. Brendan Smith and Jack Johnson haven’t taken advantage of the opportunities they’ve had. Is it possible we see veteran Anthony Bitetto or 22-year-old Libor Hajek sooner rather than later?

“We certainly do talk about getting those guys in,” said Quinn. “It’s five games in. We’ve got to continue to find a way to keep these guys sharp and in great shape. We love Libor. I think very highly of Libor.”

The Blueshirts fourth line will be made out of three of the fourth: Colin Blackwell, Brendan Lemieux, Julien Gauthier, and Kevin Rooney.

Alex Georgiev will be in net for the first game against the Sabres. Shesterkin made just 16 saves on 19 shots in the previous game. Georgiev wasn’t sharp in his last game against the Devils, but fans will be hoping he returns to form like in his first game against the Islanders.

The Sabres starting goalie will be a mystery until morning practice ends or even as late as warmups. Linus Ullmark would be a safe bet to get the nod for Buffalo. Carter Hutton is currently out with an injury that was suffered in a shootout against the Flyers. Hutton has been listed as day-to-day for nearly a week. However, Buffalo has placed Jonas Johansson to the taxi squad which could signal the return of Hutton. It could also just be a move for salary cap reasons.

The Rangers top-four defensemen will have their hands full with a very dangerous Sabres top line consisting of Jack Eichel, Victor Olofsson, and Sam Reinhart. The Blueshirts will also see a second line with former Ranger Eric Staal and the newly signed Taylor Hall. Hall currently has six points in as many games.

               The good news for the Blueshirts is that Buffalo has struggled against them. The Rangers hold a record of 7-2-0 in their last nine meetings and they have won a total of 16 games in the past 21 games. With the Rangers desperate for a win, they are coming up against an opponent whose number they have had in recent years.

Projected Lineup



Di Giuseppe-Howden-Kakko