Igor Shesterkin set to lead Rangers in tonight’s battle against the Islanders for playoffs
Rangers vs Islanders: There are only 11 games left for both the Rangers and Islanders heading into tonight. Among those games are three contests between each other including today’s tilt. Eight points separates the two clubs with the Blueshirts on the outside looking in.
For the Rangers, they know the only way to catch them is to win all three. The battle for the playoffs continues on Long Island.
Rangers: 23-16-6 (52 pts)
Islanders: 28-13-4 (60 pts)
(7:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG 2, Radio: ESPN 1050 AM)
Rangers vs Islanders: Igor Shesterkin gets the nod, no other lineup changes
The Rangers will go back to their #1 goalie Igor Shesterkin for tonight’s matchup against the Isles. The 25 year-old rookie has been spectacular since returning from injury on March 25. In that timeframe he’s recorded a 7-2-2 record to go with a sparkling .929 SV% and stellar 2.24 GAA. He also posted back-to-back shutouts against the Devils and went 152 minutes before giving up a goal in the 4 game set. Shesterkin is undoubtedly the Blueshirts best chance to get into the post-season and they are riding him.
Meanwhile, David Quinn announced no other lineup changes for tonight. Anthony Bitetto will go again in place of Libor Hajek, which is a puzzling move considering how the defenseman struggled in his last game. As for Zac Jones, Quinn does not know when he will be able to get him into the lineup with limited practice time. However; if I had to gander a guess, one of the next two games against the Sabres makes the most sense.
Beating out the Islanders most likely path to playoffs
A look at the three teams the Rangers can catch and possibly surpass shows a surprising revelation. The Bruins do not represent the best path for the playoffs. I would argue that rooting for Boston to win their games against the Penguins and Islanders is in the Blueshirts best interest. Expecting the Bruins with two games in hand to lose many of their 7 games against the Sabres and Devils is a fool’s errand.
For the Rangers to make the post-season they need to win all three games against the Islanders to close the gap to two points. The Isles have the toughest schedule of the three teams discussed with four more games against the Capitals and Bruins. This is the best path forward.
Rangers Pre Game Notes
- All-Time vs Islanders: 132-118-19-10 (74-49-11-6 at home; 58-69-8-4 on the road)
- Since Mar. 13, the Rangers are tied for third in the NHL in wins (13; 13-4-3 record), are tied for second in points (29) and points percentage (.725), rank first in goals (83), rank second in goal differential (plus-37; doesn’t include team goals awarded for shootout wins) and goals per game (4.15), and rank seventh in goals against per game (2.30).
- The Blueshirts’ plus-33 goal differential this season is the best among teams in the MassMutual NHL East Division and the fifth-best in the NHL.
- New York enters the game with a six-game road point streak (4-0-2 record). The Blueshirts have also earned at least one point in nine of their last 12 road contests, dating back to Mar. 13 at Boston (7-3-2 record).
- The Blueshirts have tallied nine power play goals in the last nine games (9-for-23; 39.1%), 16 power play goals in the last 15 games (16-for-45; 35.6%), and 18 power play goals in the last 18 games (18-for-55; 32.7%).
- The Blueshirts have not allowed a power play goal in 28 of the last 38 games (97-for-110; 88.2%), including 22 of the last 31 games (75-for-87; 86.2%).
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