The Rangers have won their past two games in a row; and as things started to trend upward, the Blueshirts hit a speedbump and now face their second unique distraction of the season (7:00 P.M. ET, MSG).

RangersEast Division Ranks /8Flyers
8thEast Ranking3rd

               Just when things seem to be trending up, the Rangers hit a roadblock and must overcome adversity for the second time this season. The Blueshirts are coming to the end of a three-game road trip where they’ve won both games and they look to beat the Flyers for the second time in three games. And as if dealing with a locker room altercation that resulted in Tony DeAngelo no longer being a part of the team; the Rangers got some news that would stun the hockey world. Artemi Panarin has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the team after a news story broke in Russia that Panarin allegedly beat up an 18-year-old girl at a bar after a game in Latvia. Since Larry Brooks of the New York Post broke the news, the Rangers and Panarin have adamantly denied the allegations, and teammates of Panarin during the alleged incident denied the incident. Many speculate that this could be a retaliation against the 29-year-old after he has publicly been against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Panarin was supposedly shaken by the allegations.

               “He’s a calming influence. He’s a guy that everybody looks up to,” said alternate captain Chris Kreider. “Just because of the way he thinks the game, the way he carries himself, the way he plays the game, and his work ethic. Not having him around is difficult.”

“He’s someone that we care an awful lot about,” said head coach David Quinn. “It goes way beyond hockey. We’re here to support him.”

               “Guys are professionals in this room,” said Brendan Smith. “It’s tough to lose a player – everybody knows that; that’s obvious – but it’s how you respond.”

               And Smith along with the rest of the Rangers will hope they can respond as they did after the first incident involving DeAngelo. The Blueshirts responded to the first incident with a 3-1 win in a rematch over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Now they’ll look to respond with another win over the Flyers and get back to .500 on the season.

               But it won’t be easy as Panarin is the Rangers leading scorer and without him in the lineup for two games, they went 0-2 and only scored two goals. And things won’t be any easier for the Rangers as Kaapo Kakko will be unavailable for a second straight game. Kakko was placed on the COVID-19 protocol list and missed Saturday afternoon’s game in Washington.

               “He’s doing fine,” Quinn said. “I wish I could give you a better answer, but I’m not sure when he’s going to be able to come back.”

               The Blueshirts will need a full team effort but they will hope Mika Zibanejad can build off an empty-net goal in Washington and help pick up the scoring in Panarin’s indefinite absence.

               “If you look at his reaction, you sensed relief,” said Quinn following Saturday’s game. “If you look at the reaction from some of the guys on the ice, there was relief… It’s not going to happen overnight. We just need to continue to see progress.”

               The Flyers will be getting a boost as they are expecting the return of defender Justin Braun and captain Claude Giroux back to the lineup. The Flyers had a handful of players on the COVID-19 protocol and are finally getting over the outbreak. Philadelphia has lost both games since returning from the outbreak including 7-3 in their last outing at Lake Tahoe to the Boston Bruins.

               Brian Elliott will get the start for the Flyers. Elliott is 3-1-0 with a .928 save percentage. The veteran netminder has been good when given the chance for the struggling Carter Hart.

               Igor Shesterkin will make his second straight appearance. Shesterkin has been solid in his last 5 starts with having less than a .930 save percentage just one time.

               The Rangers have had some positive news as Filip Chytil has returned skating. If all goes well, Chytil could make a return to the lineup by the end of next week. Chytil was arguably the best forward through the first five games and his presence in the lineup has been missed.

Projected Lineup




Di Giuseppe-Rooney-Brodzinski