New York Rangers facing challenge of a difficult January schedule
The New York Rangers closed out 2023 by becoming the first team to reach 50 points in the NHL this season as they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning in convincing fashion, 5-1. They currently sit second in the league with 51 points and a record of 25-10-1.
With the 2024 slate underway and off to a rocky start after a 6-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, the Rangers still have lofty aspirations for what the year will bring. If they want to reach their goals and make a serious run at the Stanley Cup, they will need to perform well throughout the month of January.
“After we gave up the third one, there wasn’t a lot of grind back,” Jacob Trouba said after falling to the Canes. “It’s not what we want to see on home ice. It’s not what we want to be. There’s no easy games, especially a divisional game at home, there’s no reason for us to show up and play that (kind of) game.”
New York Rangers face challenges in January
Moving past the Carolina game, New York will face the last two first-overall draft picks as Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks will be in town, followed by a trip up to Montreal as they will take on Juraj Slafkovsky and the Canadiens. New York should be able to handle both of these struggling teams if they don’t take them lightly and put in the effort.
The next big test comes against the Vancouver Canucks on January 8th at home. The Canucks are one of the best teams in the league this year and currently sit 3rd in the NHL with 49 points (23-10-3). They have the highest goal differential (+43) by a landslide. It will be a great opportunity to see how the Rangers stack up against another contender in the league. On October 28th, the Rangers had the edge over Vancouver in a 4-3 overtime win. This is definitely a big one for the Blueshirts.
After a quick trip to St. Louis, the Rangers will have a home-and-home series that is also a back-to-back against the Washington Capitals on January 13th and 14th. The Capitals are currently 5th in the Metropolitan Division, yet only four points separate them from the second-place Hurricanes. They will be looking to make a push, and a statement, against the Rangers. This will be a huge set of games for both the Rangers and Capitals as these divisional games become more significant.
New York will then face six Western Conference teams in a row. However, this includes some of the most important games of the month. After taking on Seattle, the Rangers will travel West for a four-game road trip, beginning with the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights on January 18th. It will be the first meeting between these two teams this season, and the first chance to see how the Rangers stack up against the most recent Cup winners.
Their next game comes against the Los Angeles Kings on January 20th, which will be another big test. Perhaps an opportunity for Jonathan Quick to do something special in his return to LA, the Rangers will be faced with another top 10 team in the league. Quick’s performance last time against the Kings at home on December 10th was special, and he may have this date circled as well.
The Rangers will continue their tour of California as they take on the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks, two games they should be able to handle as both teams have struggled.
They return home on January 26th where they will take on the Vegas Golden Knights once again. In another litmus test match up, the Rangers will get another chance to see where they stack up against the current tied-1st place team in the Western Conference.
Closing out the month on a back-to-back, they will travel to Ottawa to take on the Senators on January 27th. The Rangers were embarrassed in Ottawa on December 5th, as they lost 6-2. They will be looking for revenge as the month comes to an end.
14 games for the month of January, and many significant ones to take note of. It will be a critical month for the Rangers as the trade deadline and postseason are not too far ahead.