Rangers vs. Blues – 7:00 PM MSG+
No poll tonight, but I promise I will look at it before Thursday’s game against the Oilers. This is clearly a half-assed venture. Feel free to list your three stars in the comments and I’ll do my best to aggregate them into a list.
Tonight’s probable lineup for the Rangers (6-3):
Jimmy Vesey-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Mats Zuccarello
Michael Grabner-Kevin Hayes-J.T. Miller
Pavel Buchnevich-Brandon Pirri- Jesper Fast
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Nick Holden
Brady Skjei-Kevin Klein
Henrik Lundqvist returns to the net after being spelled for a game by Antti Raanta.
Chris Kreider returns to the lineup after missing four games with neck spasms. His return pushes Pavel Buchnevich down to the fourth line to play with Pirri and Fast. It seems that for the time being, AV wants to roll with the Grabner-Hayes-Miller line that combined for four goals on Sunday night against Tampa, including a hat trick for Michael Grabner. I can’t say that I blame him, but I would be quick to swap Buchnevich and Grabner if their current combinations struggle.
Coming out of the game to make room for Kreider is Oscar Lindberg, who has looked a little bit behind in terms of preparation since returning from offseason hip surgery. Clendening remains Prucha’d for a fifth straight game.
The shuffled defensive pairings from Sunday will remain intact. Nick Holden leads the team in plus/minus, putting him on par with Marek Malik and Michal Rozsival in terms of contribution to the team compared to plus/minus.
For the Blues (5-3), they are mostly healthy, with only 6/7 defenseman Robert Bortuzzo out with an injury. However, slumping sophomore Robby Fabbri will be moved down the lineup to play with Patrik Berglund and Nail Yakupov. Jake Allen gets the start in goal. The last time these teams played, backup Carter Hutton stole the show and preserved a 3-2 win for the Blues despite being outshot 15-0 in the third period.
The Blues, as a team, are struggling to score goals. Their 2.44 goals per game puts them at 23rd in the league. By contrast, the Rangers are first (!) with 3.89 (!) per game. Both of these numbers are likely to move to the mean, but we can only hope it won’t be tonight.
Once again, a personal note, thank you so much for joining me here. If I can make this blog even half as good as Carp’s, I’ll be pretty damn proud.
Don’t forget to tell everyone you know and to follow me on Twitter @rangersreport2