After defeating the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night to extend their winning streak to three-games, the Blueshirts will face the toughest test of the season thus far, when the league-leading Boston Bruins come to New York (7:30 P.M. ET, ESPN+).

RangersNHL RankingsBruins
5thNHL Standing Rank1st

Previous Game

               The Rangers are coming off a 1-0 overtime victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Blueshirts lone goal scorer was Chris Kreider on a breakaway.

               “I thought he [Mika Zibanejad] was going to come with me, little panic set in when I saw he was just giving it to me and letting me take it,” said Kreider.

This was a game the Blueshirts fully dominated and deserved to win. Unfortunately, the puck wasn’t bouncing their way as they struck iron four times.

Igor Shesterkin didn’t have much to do making just 19 saves. But the Russian netminder was called upon late in the game and robbed former Ranger Kevin Hayes multiple times.


               The Blueshirts will now face their toughest test of the season as they host the Boston Bruins. Mika Zibanejad and Jacob Trouba both had maintenance days at practice on Wednesday, but both are expected to play. Filip Chytil practiced in Zibanejad’s spot which means his return to the lineup could be nearby.

               Chytil has been a big miss for the Rangers as the team as struggled to get depth goal scoring this season. Outside of their top six, the Rangers have just eight goals including defensemen. Vitaly Kravtsov who was slated to play a big role in the Rangers’ middle-six has been injured with different injuries to start the season.

Metro Division Goals from Guys Outside the Top-Six

Team NameGoals from outside Top-six
Carolina Hurricanes9
Columbus Blue Jackets16
New Jersey Devils19
New York Islanders18
New York Rangers8
Philadelphia Flyers10
Pittsburgh Penguins14
Washington Capitals13
Note: This isn’t perfectly accurate as lines can change from game to game. The goals scored by each team outside their top-six was found by comparing Daily Faceoff’s lineup combinations and subtracting the goals from their top-six by their total number of goals.

               The good news for the Rangers is that head coach Gerard Gallant has recognized that their depth is a problem and he has shortened the bench in recent games even earlier than he did last year. For example, according to the New York Post’s Larry Brooks, for about the first 9.5 minutes of the third period in a tied game against the Flyers, Julien Gauthier had one shift during that time span while Jimmy Vesey didn’t even see the ice during that stretch. While this may lead to short term success – the Rangers can’t continue down this path and run their forwards into the ground. However, the Blueshirts simply don’t have the depth performing at the level they wish, and they don’t currently have the cap space to acquire a forward.

               So, what can they do? Well, first of all they have to be healthy and they are currently have played many games without Chytil and Kravtsov. Getting these two guys back will be a huge part of it. Sammy Blais had a major surgery last offseason and while he is playing, he isn’t 100% and he might not be the entire year. Blais could be expected to put up between 30-45 points when healthy.

               The only possible answer to the problem would be reuniting ‘The Kid Line’. Consisting of Chytil, Alexis Lafreniere, and Kaapo Kakko, the trio were a menace in the playoffs and were arguably the Blueshirts best line. To do this though, the Rangers would have to breakup their top two lines and the obvious candidates to move up in the lineup are Blais, Kravtsov, and Barclay Goodrow. While Gallant could end up doing this at some point, he may want to take Lafreniere and Kakko off those lines with those guys clicking. There’s no easy answer for Gallant unless the current bottom-six and defensemen can raise their game and chip in a little bit more.

Boston Bruins

               While the Rangers look to get more goal scoring throughout their lineup, Boston enters the game on a six-game win streak and as the top scoring team in the league. The Bruins started the season without Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy. While McAvoy still has yet to play a game for the Bruins and won’t play Thursday night, Marchand recently returned to the lineup and reunited ‘The Perfection Line’. Marchand has four points (3G, 1A) in his two games back.

               In the offseason, the Bruins let go of head coach Bruce Cassidy who joined the Vegas Golden Knights. Boston brought in Jim Montgomery and he has done an unbelievable job to start the season. In addition, the Bruins brought back David Krejci from Europe after he spent a year there. Krejci currently has eight points in eight games.

               Leading the Black-and-Gold in points is David Pastrnak with 18 points. But perhaps what’s more impressive is the point scoring throughout the lineup. Boston currently has 13 players with at least four points. In comparison, the Rangers only have seven players that have recorded four points this season.

Goaltending Matchup

               The goaltending matchup is usually a clear-cut advantage for the Blueshirts. Igor Shesterkin is the reigning Vezina winner and he currently has a record of 6-0-2 with a .921 save percentage. And while Shesterkin is considered a top two goaltender in the league with Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, Boston’s Linus Ullmark has been sensational to start the year. Ullmark is currently 7-0-0 with a .932 save percentage. While Shesterkin is the superior goaltender to Ullmark, Ullmark has been one of the best goaltenders to open the season.

Key to Victory

               In Boston’s only defeat, they were defeated 7-5 by the Ottawa Senators. Can the Bruins outscore Boston in a high scoring game? I don’t think that is the easiest path to victory. The Rangers are going to need a good defensive game and a big game from Shesterkin. Slowing down the Bruins top lines and making it difficult for them will give them the best chance of winning. Playing an offensive run-and-gun style of game isn’t the type of affair the Blueshirts want this to be.

Projected Lineup










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