New York Rangers Looking to Gain Ground in Metro Division
Three games, three big chances for the Rangers to get ahead in the division, and possibly back in the mix in one of the top three positions in the division if they can win all three games.
The Rangers start Tuesday night by facing the Pittsburgh Penguins. Our staff writer, Noah Weiss, covered this game for us this morning and you can check out his preview here.
The importance of these three games is crucial, as points are pretty hard to come by when you start entering the middle months of the season. As the Rangers schedule gets tougher, we’ll be looking as to how they played during this month when it comes to playoff seeding.
The Rangers will have a tough go with Mika Zibanejad likely missing his third straight game with a concussion. The mystery of concussions is just that, a mystery. While he could be ready to go by Friday’s game against Washington, we really don’t know if that’s going to be the case, because concussions are hard to gauge.
The Capitals are slowly starting to right their own ship after a tough start, currently sitting fourth in the metro, a point ahead of the Rangers. They have a game Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks, before facing the Rangers on Friday night.
As with anything, staying out of the penalty box for the Rangers will be key, as Alexander Ovechkin is deadly from his favorite spot on the power play. This should be another game where Henrik Lundqvist starts, as this will be a tough matchup for the Rangers, and they’ll need everyone on deck to play a very tight game.
What also has been a surprise for the Capitals? Their slow start to the season was one, as they were struggling just as bad as the Rangers, but just like the Rangers, have shown a little more in terms of quality. Will the Rangers be able to keep up with the Capitals offense? Will they be able to have a quality defensive game, holding back the Capitals and Alex Ovechkin?
New Jersey Devils
No, these are not the Devils that have missed the playoffs since 2012-2013. Currently sitting in a tie for second with the Islanders, a point behind Columbus in the Metro division.
Sure, we can say this team cooled off a bit. But the youth this team has and the fight this team has is far more exciting for the team based in Newark. It’s almost as if they have a good chance at being a surprise team in the Metro division, and be a spoiler to a team who is fighting for a spot in.
Cory Schneider is a goalie that Alain Vigneault knows well, and the defense now has gotten a huge upgrade with the addition of Sami Vatanen last week, this Devils team can now compete. The Rangers and their fans should not take this team lightly.
Like I said, this week the Rangers should make up a lot of ground in the Metro division if they play a smart, and simple game. Drive their speed on all three of these teams, and stay out of the box against them, you’ll be fine.
If the Rangers falter away from that game plan, then this could be a very tough week. Their back is already against the wall, being without Zibanejad. Yet, the Rangers shouldn’t give these teams any other reasons to make it easy for them.