New York Rangers seek bounce back performance against St. Louis Blues
The New York Rangers had a very difficult night in Minnesota on Tuesday. With Igor Shesterkin getting a rest in favor of sparingly used backup Alexandar Georgiev, the team was dealt a 5-2 loss.
Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues will try to snap a four-game winless streak when they host the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
The Blues are in an 0-3-1 rut that started with a 5-3 loss to the Rangers in New York last Wednesday. They’ve scored all of four goals in their past three games, losing twice in regulation and once in overtime.
It will be a heated contest featuring desperate teams looking for a huge two points.
New York Rangers want to bounce back
The Rangers started their four-game road swing with a 4-1 victory against the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday, but they lost 5-2 to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday to snap their three-game winning streak.
“I thought we did some good things, but I thought (the Wild) were a little more desperate,” Rangers center Ryan Strome said. “I think the first period was fairly even, they just had a little more desperation that accounted for those two goals and then we did a good job getting back in the game and just a couple quick ones hurt us.
“Obviously, a tough result — but second of a four-game trip, move on.”
The Rangers started backup goaltender Alexandar Georgiev against the Wild, so they are likely to come back to Vezina Trophy candidate Igor Shesterkin (28-6-3, 1.93 goals-against average) against the Blues. Shesterkin made 29 saves when the Rangers beat the Blues last week.
Artemi Panarin scored a goal and assisted on two others for the Rangers in that game. He has seven points (one goal, six assists) in his past five games.
Rangers dealing with key injuries to bottom six forwards
After practice on Wednesday, Gallant spoke about the team’s loss against the Wild. He stated that they needed to play a more north-south game against a very physical Minnesota squad. Gallant also harkened how that’s what they’ll have to do come playoff time.
While discussing the team, he focused on the bottom six forwards starting with Filip Chytil.
“You talk about Fil, is he better suited as a second line player? Probably, but he’s young and we’re set with our first two lines,” Gallant explained. “So take advantage of the opportunity you’ve got and right now he’s playing on the third line.”
The coach also noted that a lot of the issues with the lines are due to injuries. Starting with the loss of Sammy Blais to a torn ACL, whom Gallant said was not skating yet and accompanied the team on this trip by request. Blais played in St. Louis for several seasons before the trade and won the Stanley Cup in 2019 with the Blues.
“We’ve got a lot of guys out with injury, so the lines aren’t what they could be,” Gallant said. “The guys are filling in and working hard. Last night was a little disappointing but overall I’m happy.”
Another key injury is Kaapo Kakko out on IR and hopeful to return before the March 21 Trade Deadline. His return would place Hunt back on the third or fourth line. Also Kevin Rooney and Greg McKegg are out.
Morgan Barron may get a shot on Thursday to get back into the lineup.
Blues trying to get back on track
“We’ve got to keep looking at things and fix it,” coach Craig Berube said. “Guys will get their mojo back and they’ll start executing again; I really believe that, and we’ll start scoring goals. Right now, we’re not getting enough opportunities to score goals. We’re not getting enough power plays — and when we do get power plays, it’s not very good.”
Looking to play a more direct game, the Blues promoted grinding forwards MacKenzie MacEachern and Alexei Toropchenko from Springfield of the American Hockey League for their game against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday. They played together on the fourth line, and each saw less than nine minutes of ice time in a 4-1 loss.
Blues defenseman Marco Scandella could return from the injured list for this game, but forward Oskar Sundqvist could remain out with a persistent knee injury. Forward Pavel Buchnevich, acquired by the Blues from the Rangers last summer, was knocked out of the game against Ottawa after taking a big head-high hit from Senators forward Austin Watson and is questionable to face his former team. The Blues said Wednesday that defenseman Scott Perunovich will have surgery on his left wrist and will be out for at least eight weeks.
Get the latest on Jakob Chychrun, Claude Giroux, and Brock Boeser. Read more here.
–Field Level Media contributed to this report