New York Rangers look to get back in the win column against the Blue Jackets

Rangers look to rebound
Oct 25, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (31) knocks away the puck from Calgary Flames right wing Brett Ritchie (24) during the first period at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers will look to get back to their winning ways Friday night at the Garden.

After being dominated by the Calgary Flames, the Rangers hope to produce a significantly better showing on home ice when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Rangers are 0-1-1 at home to start the season.

All the good feelings from sweeping a four-game road trip quickly dissipated for the New York Rangers on Monday and they will be looking to get that back.

“You can’t be Mr. Good Guy all the time, and you can’t be always on them either,” Gerard Gallant said after letting his team know about his dissatisfaction. “We all want to get better.”

New York Rangers looking to play a “man’s game”

The Rangers return to the ice after having three days to digest everything they did wrong in a 5-1 loss to the Flames. New York took its second 5-1 loss of the season when it allowed 37 shots on goal and did not survive 20 giveaways and other misplays against one of the league’s hottest teams.

“You’ve got to play a man’s game,” Gallant made clear. “We have to play a man’s game and we’re doing that, not every night, but when we do we’ll be a real good team.”

What the coach is looking for is better play when it comes to one-on-one battles. Too often against the physical Flames, they gave up the puck away too often and it led to a letdown after a great road trip.

Rangers Blue Jackets
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 26: Head coach Gerard Gallant of the New York Rangers handles bench duties against the New York Islanders in a preseason game at Madison Square Garden on September 26, 2021 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Rangers took the loss after a 4-0-0 trip through Montreal, Toronto, Nashville and Ottawa. The trip was capped by New York scoring three times in the final 5:23 to rally from a two-goal deficit in a 3-2 win over the Senators on Saturday.

“I think it’s more just puck management,” New York’s Ryan Strome said after returning from a bout with COVID-19. “When we had chances (against Calgary), we were simple, we were straight lines, kind of what you’ve seen the last little while. A template of what makes us successful. Then we’re throwing pucks in the middle a little bit, I think a little bit sloppy and not our best execution.”

The good news is the Rangers, who played without Kaapo Kakko may get him back from his upper-body injury. Although Gallant would not commit to it, the 20 year-old Finn was blunt when asked. “I’m ready to play,” he said.

Rugged winger Ryan Reaves, who sustained a lower-body injury in the first period Monday has been place on IR.

Blue Jackets come into town with Max Domi

Columbus also has been off since Monday. The Blue Jackets have alternated wins and losses in the past four games after scoring 10 times in their 2-0 start. On Monday, the Blue Jackets bounced back from a loss by posting a 4-1 win over the visiting Dallas Stars.

“I thought we had a solid game all the way through,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “I am trying to think of anybody I didn’t really like. Their compete level tonight was very high, Elvis was good all the way up through our D, our forwards. We had contributions from everybody. It was a good night for us.”

Columbus has had 11 players get at least one goal so far. Hofmann scored his first career goal after the 28-year-old was put on the same line as Bjorkstrand, second on the team with three tallies. Boone Jenner leads with four.

Columbus also is benefitting from Merzlikins’ strong start. He enters with a .952 save percentage and 1.47 goals-against average. Last season, he was 8-12-5 with a 2.77 GAA and .916 save percentage in 28 games (23 starts).

Good news for Columbus as forward Max Domi was activated off injured reserve on Thursday.

Domi missed four games with a rib fracture sustained in a game against the expansion Seattle Kraken on Oct. 16. Despite being injured, Domi fed Patrik Laine for the game-winning goal in overtime.

The 26-year-old Domi is expected to return to the lineup for Friday’s game against the host New York Rangers.

The Blue Jackets have won eight of the past 12 meetings. The teams are meeting for the first time since New York’s 3-1 win in Columbus on Feb. 14, 2020.

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–Field Level Media contributed to this report