After falling defeat to the Boston Bruins, the Rangers are back in action where they will take on the Florida Panthers for the second time in January (7:00 P.M. on MSG).

RangersNHL RankingsPanthers
12thNHL Standing Rank18th
18th GF/PG8th
5th  GA/PG22nd

The Blueshirts were in Florida at the beginning of the new year and were victorious by the score of 5-3. The Panthers have started to pick up their play as of late as they have gone 4-0-1 in their last five games. With Florida getting hot, they are starting to climb back into the race for a wildcard position and one team they may need to overtake would be the Blueshirts who currently sit third in the Metropolitan Division. The race in the Eastern Conference is so tight and games like these could have a longer impact down the road.

The Kid Line is slated to be reunited once again as head coach Gerard Gallant seeks to find the right combination. Alexis Lafreniere was given an opportunity on the top line for three games while Chris Kreider was injured. But in the end, that didn’t work out for the Rangers.

“They [Lafreniere, Chytil, and Kakko] pass the puck too much…,” said head coach Gerard Gallant. “When they’re playing on different lines, they try and get too fancy, or they try and give Chris Kreider the puck and Zibanejad the puck.”

               Filip Chytil has had a good January despite playing with many different linemates. Chytil currently has seven points in nine games as he will center Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.

               “Have confidence in your game,” Gallant said to ‘The Kid Line’ at practice. “Shoot the puck. We need more people shooting the puck and you young kids are good goal-scorers.”

               Mika Zibanejad will center Artemi Panarin and Kreider on Monday night as Gallant will pair his highest scoring center with his two highest scoring wingers. Kreider is expected to shift to right wing from his usual left wing.

Vincent Trocheck will center Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey which the Rangers can hope can provide energy and play against other team’s best players. Jake Leschyshyn will center Vitaly Kravtsov and Julien Gauthier who is expected to return from injury on Monday night. Jonny Brodzinski was sent to the minors after clearing waivers. Sammy Blais will be a healthy scratch with Libor Hajek.

               The goaltending matchup will be something to keep an eye on. Jaroslav Halak, who was victorious against the Panthers at the turn of the New Year, was the first goalie off the ice on practice on Sunday which usually indicates who will be the starter. For the Panthers Sergei Bobrovsky is currently injured and won’t be available for Monday night’s game. Spencer Knight was recalled on Monday morning from his AHL conditioning stint after returning from injury, but Knight won’t make his return to the crease quite yet. Alex Lyon, the Panthers third string netminder, will start for the Panthers on Monday. Lyon who is 2-0-0 with a .912 save percentage this season.

Sam Bennett and Aaron Ekblad will be in the lineup after both were hurt on Saturday. This comes as good news as the Panthers have been short a couple forwards in Patric Hornqvist and Anthony Duclair for quite some time. Duclair has yet to play a game for the Panthers this season while Hornqvist is recovering from a concussion. Both are inching closer to returning, but won’t play in New York on Monday night.

               Matthew Tkachuk leads the Panthers in points after being acquire from Calgary in the offseason. Tkachuk has 59 points in 45 games this season. The Panthers are expected to open the game with Tkachuk on a line with Bennett and Carter Verhaeghe.

With the trade deadline starting to inch closer, the Rangers will likely be a buyer for the second straight season. Last season the Blueshirts brought in Frank Vatrano, Andrew Copp, and Justin Braun as rentals. The Blueshirts have two first round picks this season which can be used as trading chips. Patrick Kane and Timo Meier are the two biggest names being linked to the Blueshirts; however, it is very likely the Rangers couldn’t afford to resign either of these two without a major move happening.

Projected Lineup










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