The Rangers return home from a northwest road trip and waiting for them is the league-leading Florida Panthers (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG+).

RangersNHL RankingsPanthers
8thNHL Standing Rank1st

Previous Game

               The conclusion of the road trip left a sour taste in the mouths of fans. After stealing a win in Seattle, the Rangers followed it up with two overtime defeats to the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers. In each game, the Rangers blew a two-goal lead in the third period.

On Saturday night, the Rangers concluded the four-game road trip in which they were thrashed by the Calgary Flames by the score of 6-0. No one had a good game for the Blueshirts including goaltender Igor Shesterkin who has been the heart and soul of the Rangers to start the season. Shesterkin let up six goals on 37 shots, but there were definitely a couple of goals he wishes he could’ve had back.

“Igor has been our best player and he’s carried us to this point and for us to do that to him in the third is unacceptable,” said alternate captain Chris Kreider.

And if getting blown-out by Calgary wasn’t bad enough, Filip Chytil left the game after his first shift. Chytil and teammate Sammy Blais had a collision in open ice which neither player saw coming. After playing just 45 seconds and not returning, head coach Gerard Gallant said after practice on Monday that the 22-year-old is dealing with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.

New York Rangers

               The Blueshirts will return to Madison Square Garden where they will take on the scorching hot Florida Panthers. With Chytil not taking the morning skate, look for the Rangers to recall Greg McKegg or Morgan Barron from Hartford to play center. The other option is slotting Julien Gauthier into the lineup with Barclay Goodrow moving to the center.  

               Igor Shesterkin will be back in between the pipes as he looks to bounce back from a rough night in Calgary. Shesterkin has been the Rangers best player this season and he might need to be once again if the Rangers want to win against Florida.

               The Rangers are currently on a three-game losing streak going 0-1-2 but very easily could be 2-1-0 in that span. While it is very worrying that they are on a three-game losing skid, it is good that they at least have two points from that span. It’s important to limit losing streaks throughout the season but when you can earn points during them – it helps minimize the damage.

Florida Panthers

               The Florida Panthers enter the game as the team to beat in the National Hockey League. Even after parting ways after a few games with former head coach Joel Quenneville following a sexual assault scandal during his tenure in Chicago, the Panthers haven’t even blinked once. Now under interim head coach Andrew Brunette, Florida has suffered just one blemish which was a shootout loss to the Boston Bruins. And it’s not like the Panthers have been playing easier teams in the league. They have convincing wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New York Islanders, the Colorado Avalanche, and the Carolina Hurricanes to name a few.

               In the offseason, Florida made a splash by sending a first-round pick in 2022 and goaltender prospect Devon Levi to the Buffalo Sabres for Sam Reinhart. Reinhart was the former second overall pick in the 2014 draft and he is now teammates with the top selection from that draft Aaron Ekblad. Reinhart currently has nine points in eleven games.

            Florida’s depth makes them a scary team with scoring contributions from up-and-down the lineup. Former Ranger third-round pick Anthony Duclair leads the Panthers in scoring with twelve points. And defender Gustav Forsling has nine assists to open the year. Florida currently has seven players with over nine points to start the season.

               However, the Rangers may get a huge break as the Panthers have a lot of injuries and some key players may not be available. Franchise center Aleksander Barkov, Sam Bennett, and Joe Thornton are all currently day-to-day and did not play in their previous game against the Hurricanes. The trio returned for a morning skate Monday morning, but they were skating as a fifth forward line which projects them to be out of the lineup. Barkov is listed as a game-time decision.

               The goaltending by the Panthers has been fantastic to open the season. Starting goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is 6-0-0 to start the season but he too is day-to-day with an injury. Rookie goaltender Spencer Knight will likely draw the start as he was the first goaltender off the ice during the Panthers morning skate. Knight is just 20 years old and has just nine career starts. The former Boston College goaltender has a 2.53 goals against average and a .918 save percentage for a 4-0-1 record this season. Knight holds a career record of 8-0-1.

What to Watch

               Will the Blueshirts be able to have a complete performance and bounce back with a good showing against the Panthers? Beating Florida will be no easy task even with all the injury concerns they have. But it is important the Rangers have a bounce-back performance after an alarming loss and try to be the team that gives Florida their first regulation defeat. They also could be the first team to give Knight his first career regulation defeat.

Projected Lineup










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