New York Rangers ready to put all that practice to work against Blue Jackets

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Nov 8, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko (24) and left wing Artemi Panarin (10) at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers have had four days off since their last game on Monday when they beat the Florida Panthers 4-3 at MSG. A contest where they were outshot 45-18, leaving head coach Gerard Gallant not pleased.

“It was no fun watching that,” he said. “You win against an undefeated team, a great team, and you don’t feel good with that.”

The head coach has been working the team hard this week at the MSG Training Center, focusing on playing without the puck. Yesterday, Gallant was asked if he felt the extra practice time will help; “We’re going to find out on the weekend,” he answered.

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New York Rangers get ready for action

When the puck drops in Columbus it will be the Rangers 10th road game of season. That is currently the second most in the league behind the Islanders (11), who are still waiting for their new arena in Belmont to open.

The Blueshirts success on the road has been a huge reason for their 7-3-3 record, along with the play of Igor Shesterkin. Their five road wins have them tied for the most in the NHL and their 12 road points have them tied with the Islanders for most in the league.

“You want to keep doing the things the things you’re doing and doing them a little bit better,” Gallant said. “Our record is pretty good (7-3-3), but we can still play a lot better and we know that as a group.”

The Rangers’ win over the Panthers was imperfect yet still came at a most opportune time. New York has shown flashes of brilliance during an inconsistent start to the season. After going 0-1-1 to start, the Rangers went 6-1-0 in their next seven games before losing the final three games (0-1-2) of a West Coast road trip that ended Nov. 6.

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Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers center Filip Chytil, who missed Monday’s game with an upper-body injury, didn’t practice Friday and isn’t expected to travel with the team to Columbus. His absence won’t be an excuse for the Rangers leading goal scorer Chris Kreider.

“We’re professional hockey players so you’ve got to do what you do well regardless of what your position is or who you’re playing with,” Kreider, who has 9 goals on the year said. “When everyone is doing what they’re supposed to be doing it makes everyone else’s job easier.”

With two sets of back-to-back games in a 6 games in 9 nights stretch, Alexandar Georgiev will be called into action. He will need to step up despite only playing three games this season.

“I don’t want to give myself excuses,” Georgiev opined on his struggles. “Just focus on my game. Every day come to the rink here with the guys trying to improve.”

Blue Jackets playing well

A narrow loss to an Eastern Conference contender Friday night didn’t discourage the Columbus Blue Jackets, who get another chance to prove their rebuild is moving along faster than anticipated when they host another potentially elite team, the New York Rangers, on Saturday.

The loss Friday dropped the Blue Jackets — whose 48 points last season were tied for the fourth fewest in the NHL — to 7-4-0 and came immediately after they swept a home-and-home set with the Colorado Avalanche, who entered the season as the consensus favorite to win the Western Conference.

Even after losing to the Capitals, the Blue Jackets are 3-2-0 against a quartet of teams — Washington and Colorado plus the New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes — that made the playoffs last season.

The Blue Jackets almost earned at least one point Friday, when they overcame a 3-1 deficit in a 22-second span shortly before the midway point of the second period on goals by Sean Kuraly and Gustav Nyquist. The result was still enough to make Columbus believe it’s ready to compete with the best of the league on a nightly basis.

“Tough to see (the winning streak) end that way,” Kuraly said Friday night. “That’s a good team, and it (stinks) to come out with no points in a game where you feel like you are right there at the end. We expect our team to battle back. We’ve got what we need to play with any team.”

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–Field Level Media contributed to this report

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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