New York Rangers kick off difficult road trip with historic first game against Seattle Kraken
The New York Rangers will officially kick off a four game Western road trip tonight in Seattle against the Kraken. They will then play the Canucks, Oilers, and finish with a rematch against the red-hot Flames.
Per the Rangers, this will be the 36th franchise the team has played in its 95-year history. That includes teams like the Atlanta Thrashers, California Golden Seals, and Colorado Rockies.
New York is 5-0-0 in its first game against the last five expansion teams and overall have posted a 24-5-1-0 record in their first all-time game against the other 30 teams currently in the NHL.
Puck drop is at 9:00 PM ET.
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Rangers missing snarl for the opening of the road trip
The New York Rangers will be missing a bit of their bite when they open a four-game Western road swing Sunday night in Seattle.
Forward Ryan Reaves, who has racked up nearly 1,000 penalty minutes in his NHL career, suffered an undisclosed lower-body injury in a 5-1 loss Monday against Calgary and was placed on injured reserve Thursday night.
That means he will be out at least a week.
“He’s a big guy, he’s played well for us,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said. “He’s done a good job. It’s a part of the game and injuries happen all the time. So we’re just going to put somebody else in there and go play the game.”
Gallant said Reaves would make the trip with the Rangers and could be activated for the final two games, Friday at Edmonton and Saturday at Calgary.
The Rangers rebounded from the loss to Calgary, which snapped their four-game winning streak, with a 4-0 victory over Columbus on Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
“I thought we managed the puck real well,” he said. “I didn’t think we turned it over near as much in the neutral zone as we did the prior game. Our forecheck was a lot better. I just thought we had 20 guys ready to play tonight. We’re eight games into the season, now we have to play a more complete game then we did it the past, tonight’s game was the most complete game we played.”
After the game, Gallant was asked if this was the complete 60 minutes he wanted. “It was close,” he responded. Of course, there’s always room for improvement as the he noted that the team was a little loose to start the game.
High praise for Igor Shesterkin and PP clicks
Goaltender Igor Shesterkin made 31 saves for his first shutout of the season, Chris Kreider scored two power-play goals and Adam Fox and Artemi Panarin each had three assists.
“He’s athletic, he’s strong, and everything seemed to hit him in the chest,” Gallant said of Shesterkin. “I think he’s one of the top goalies in the league, no doubt.”
Kreider’s goals gave him an NHL-leading five with the man advantage this season, entering Saturday.
The Rangers went 2-for-3 on the power play Friday, after going 1-for-13 in their previous four games. Kreider has all five of New York’s man-advantage goals this season.
“They come in bunches,” Kreider said. “I think we were due. We were getting looks, we were hitting posts, and pucks were going in for us (Friday). The puck was certainly moving quick. We’ve got an incredible four guys up there on the perimeter and the walls, so we’re always a threat to score.”
Kraken have a little streak going
The expansion Kraken put together their first winning streak, beating Montreal 5-1 Tuesday and Minnesota 4-1 Thursday, both at home.
Haydn Fleury scored twice against the Wild and fellow defenseman Mark Giordano added an empty-net goal, one of two for the Kraken in the final minute. Goalie Philipp Grubauer made 30 saves.
“I think that’s a key part of our team. I think all the defensemen on our team have the capability to contribute,” Fleury said. “If we’re going to be a successful team, I think we have to do that. We have to be solid on our own end. But there has to be a second dimension to our game where we can contribute and help drive the offense as well.”
Kraken coach Dave Hakstol preaches that his blueliners must take care of their responsibilities in their own end of the rink first. But he acknowledges with players like Fleury, Giordano and Vince Dunn, there’s the potential for more.
“Every part of the game involves five people. Five people working on the same page,” Hakstol said. “That doesn’t mean it’s scripted. Because in the game of hockey, it’s not scripted. But there is a baseline expectation of roles and different situations. From there, it’s guys being able to be free and make plays within the structure. We’re getting there. You’re seeing more of that naturally get into play as some of that chemistry and some of that familiarity come together.”
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–Field Level Media contributed to this report