Rangers at Penguins -7:00 PM MSG
Tonight is the first leg of a home and home between the Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is the first time these teams will meet since the Penguins unceremoniously dispatched of the Rangers in the first round of last year’s playoffs in 5 games en route to winning the Stanley Cup.
I will be watching this game on bit of a delay as I have to go to my son’s parent-teacher converence first. Clearly, this is an HAV.
Tonight’s probable lineup for the Rangers (13-5-1), via Steve Zipay (@stevezipay):
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
Jimmy Vesey-Kevin Hayes-Mats Zuccarello
Michael Grabner-Brandon Pirri-J.T. Miller
Oscar Lindberg-Josh Jooris-Jesper Fast
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Nick Holden
Brady Skjei-Kevin Klein
The big news of course is Mika Zibanejad breaking his fibula during the overtime period of last night’s shootout loss to the Panthers. Kevin Hayes moves up to his spot on the second line, Brandon Pirri moves up to Kevin Hayes’ spot on the third line, and Oscar “the Machine” Lindberg gets to take penalties in Brandon Pirri’s spot on the fourth line.
Pavel Buchnevich had an MRI today for his back spasms. The test determined that there were no structural issues, but Buchnevich will need a two to three week program to “strengthen his core.” Your guess is as good as mine, but it sounds as if he should be able to recover and help boost a rapidly depleting forwards corps. That depth was helped a bit, I suppose, with today’s claim of Matt Puempel off of waivers from the Ottawa Senators. I’m still skeptical, though, as it seems he has struggled mightily at the NHL level.
The defense remains unchanged, so Clendening remains Prucha’d for a third straight game. I still disagree with this arrangement. Skjei should be playing more often, not less.
As I had suggested last night, Antti Raanta gets the start given AV’s traditional practice of switching goaltenders in the second game of a back to back with travel in between.
For the Penguins, (11-4-3), injuries to Patrick Honrqvist and Chris Kunitz are testing their forward depth. The Penguins have called up Jake Guentzel, a 2013 3rd round pick taken in between Buchnevich and Anthony Duclair. Guentzel has been very good in the AHL this season, with 17 points (7-10-16) in 16 games. He will play on the second line with Malkin and Kessel. Not too shabby for your NHL debut. Marc-Andre Fleury gets the start.
Don’t forget to tell everyone you know and to follow me on Twitter @rangersreport2. And don’t forget to vote for your three stars after the game!