New York Rangers have something to prove in Dallas with Trade Deadline looming

The New York Rangers pull into Dallas looking to break even on this four-game road trip. Meanwhile, the Stars are fighting for their playoff lives and will be no easy opponent. This Saturday night tilt should be a dogfight with the Blueshirts having something to prove.

When Gerard Gallant pulled Igor Shesterkin on Thursday, it was more about how he felt about the defense in front of his star goaltender.

The shaky defense also was a component of New York’s second straight lopsided road loss to a contending Western Conference team and the Rangers seek a significantly improved showing

New York Rangers have something to prove

New York opened its four-game road trip with a 4-1 win at Winnipeg on Sunday when it was outshot 46-22 and allowed six power plays. Shesterkin made 45 saves in the victory and got the night off Tuesday when the Rangers endured a 5-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

On Thursday, Shesterkin returned but was pulled for the second time in his career during a 6-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues. Shesterkin allowed four goals on 13 shots but when Gallant saw how those goals were occurring, he lifted him.

“You get frustrated and you hope you wake your guys up,” Gallant said. “It didn’t really, but they should be embarrassed a little bit. The way this guy plays for them all year and then they come out tonight and play like that. … After a game in Minnesota that we weren’t too good in.”

The Rangers head to Dallas with four losses in their past seven games (3-4-0) and have been outshot in six straight games and 17 of their past 22 games.

“There’s lessons that can be learned,” New York’s Barclay Goodrow said. “We’re a little — whether it’s lackadaisical or not fully dialed in or we’re making little mistakes in the D zone — and it’s costing us right now.”

The teams are meeting in Dallas for the first time since New York’s 4-2 win on March 10, 2020 — two days before the NHL paused for four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rangers need help with NHL Trade Deadline looming

new york rangers
Mar 10, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) in action during the game between the Rangers and the Stars at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Over the next 9 days, more teams will fallout of playoff contention and put additional players on the market. The list of contenders should lessen which will make for better buying conditions.

What Drury should be avoiding are any big moves like trying to acquire Tomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks. At this time, the general consensus is the Sharks will retain Hertl. But in the off chance he’s on the block, there’s no way young players like Nils Lundkvist or Zac Jones should be sent the other way.

When the realization hit that J.T. Miller was really not available unless a king’s ransom was paid that included Braden Schneider, the Rangers reprioritized. They are currently focused on Ducks’ forward Rickard Rakell and Habs’ defenseman Ben Chiarot. Both are pending UFA rentals.

Rakell is the guy the Rangers need to stabilize the right side. A first round pick, or Vitali Kravtsov are reasonable assets to move for him. The Rangers will also try land Chiarot, but the price tag is high and there’s at least 4 or 5 teams in on him.

The Rangers could stick with their 6 defensemen and be fine. If Drury beefs up the bottom six with players like Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Carpenter, and/or Mattias Janmark, that will help the overall defense.

The New York Rangers need to make these type of moves to give them the best chance to compete come the playoffs. It will also allow them to keep key pieces to make bigger trades in the summer once they have a clearer picture of their cap situation, as both Ryan Strome and Kaapo Kakko need new contracts.

Simply put, this is not the season to go all in. The Rangers are very good, but unless you truly believe this team is a prized rental away from a Stanley Cup, you have to hold on to your big assets.

Dallas Stars fighting for a Wild Card

Dallas enters Friday with a one-point edge over the Edmonton Oilers for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference and is 14-5-1 in its past 20 games since dropping three straight Jan. 14-18.

The Stars saw a four-game winning streak halted with a 2-1 loss at Nashville on Tuesday when they just 23 shots on goal. John Klingberg scored 32 seconds into the third period Tuesday but Dallas ended its three-game road trip by allowing two goals off defensive miscues

The Stars also signed veteran forward Joe Pavelski to a one-year, $5.5 million contract extension Friday. The deal includes an additional $500,000 in performance-based incentives.

The 37-year-old alternate captain leads the team in assists (37) and points (59) through 56 games. He made his fourth career All-Star Game appearance last month.

Dallas played Tuesday’s game without defenseman Miro Heiskanen because of a non-COVID illness and announced Thursday that he was out indefinitely with mononucleosis. He has four goals and 29 points but also leads Dallas in ice time at 24:46 per game and Hesikanen’s absences could mean more prominent roles for other defensemen, such as Klingberg and Esa Lindell

Despite Tuesday’s loss, Oettinger is 10-3-1 over his past 15 appearances and Jason Robertson has scored 16 of his team-leading 29 goals since Jan. 20, including consecutive hat tricks last week at Winnipeg and Minnesota.

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–Field Level Media contributed to this report