New York Rangers face struggling old division rival Flyers

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Mar 25, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a save against Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) during the first period at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

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The Rangers will look to keep their positive momentum going after coming off an impressive 3-0 win over the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.

Goaltender Igor Shesterkin stopped 37 shots in his first game since returning from the COVID list. Braden Schneider also scored a goal in his first career game.

“A lot of the credit has to go to Shesterkin,” Rangers acting head coach Kris Knoblauch said. “There were a lot of Grade A scoring chances and he came up with some big saves.”

Rangers rookie impressive in debut

Schneider scored his first career goal at 1:27 of the second period, taking a pass from Ryan Strome in the high slot and putting a wrister past a screened Hill. Filip Chytil also was credited with a helper.

“I was in the right place at the right time and I couldn’t have drawn it up any better myself,” Schneider said. “The whole day, I was quite jittery, I couldn’t sit still, my nap wasn’t too great. I came to the rink, it was the same thing with nerves.

Schneider, 20, was the 19th overall pick in the 2020 draft.

“When I got on the ice for warmup, it became a little more real and I don’t think it hit me until my first shift and then after that, I felt like I settled in and got a little more confident as the game went on,” he added.

Schneider, 20, had nine points (all assists) in 24 games with the Pack this season. The 6-2, 202 lbs defenseman is a physical presence on the blue-line that likes to hit hard and often.

The Saskatchewan native was drafted by the Rangers in the first round of the 2020 NHL Draft. New York moved up to select him 19th overall by exchanging their first round pick (22nd overall) and a third round selection with Calgary.

Rangers hope to have Reaves and Gauthier

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Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Like virtually every other team, the Rangers have had to shuffle lines as players have come and gone from the COVID list. This was arguably their best performance of the season.

I mean at this point, you just have to roll with the punches,” Chris Kreider said. “It’s happening to most teams in the league and it’s almost a running joke at this point as who is coming out of the lineup for the next game.”

The New York Rangers announced on Friday the assignments of forwards Lauri Pajuniemi and Justin Richards along with defenseman Zac Jones to the Wolf Pack from the taxi squad. All three could see action tonight as the Pack face Providence.

New York hopes to have both forwards Julien Gauthier and Ryan Reaves back from COVID protocol for tomorrow’s contest against the Flyers in Philadelphia.

Although there’s no official word, both Gauthier and Reaves are eligible to come off the COVID list after doing their five days of quarantine. Here’s a look at the Rangers COVID situation:

  • Julien Gauthier (Added 1/7 – eligible to return)
  • Ryan Reaves (Added 1/8 – eligible to return)
  • Gerard Gallant (Added 1/9 – eligible to return 1/14)
  • Barclay Goodrow (Added 1/10 – eligible to return 1/15)
  • Alexis Lafrenière (Added 1/13 – eligible to return 1/18)

Flyers winless since December

Despite the return of captain Claude Giroux and Ivan Provorov from the COVID-19 list, the result was the same for the Philadelphia Flyers: another loss.

The Flyers did play well in stretches but ultimately fell 3-2 on the road against the Boston Bruins on Thursday.

Philadelphia will now look to snap a six-game losing streak when it hosts the New York Rangers on Saturday. The Flyers haven’t won since a 3-2 overtime victory Dec. 29 at Seattle.

“We know they’ve played a lot of hockey as of late and we did the exact opposite of what our game plan told us to do,” Cam Atkinson said of quickly falling behind 2-0. “We got back to it second and third (periods). You saw that we started playing better and guys wanted the puck a little bit more. But yeah, just a slow start for us.”

Goaltender Carter Hart made 33 saves, including several stellar ones, to keep the Flyers close. In the end, this moral victory wasn’t enough.

“He keeps us in every single game,” Atkinson said. “We need to be a little harder in our blue in front of him and just help him out a little more.”

Penalties turned out to be costly as one of David Pastrnak’s three goals came on a 5-on-3 advantage. During this latest skid, penalties have haunted the Flyers.

“I think that you look at a number of our games lately and we have spurts here and there,” Philadelphia interim head coach Mike Yeo said. “We aren’t capable of sustaining momentum, sustaining play. Even when things aren’t going necessarily outstanding, you can’t let things go really bad.”

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–Field Level Media contributed to this article

Anthony Scultore is the founder of Forever Blueshirts and has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL... More about Anthony Scultore

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