New York Rangers rework lines for spark against Florida Panthers
Over the weekend, the New York Rangers reworked their lines in an effort to find balance as per head coach Gerard Gallant. Heading into action tonight at Madison Square Garden against the Florida Panthers, we will see if this latest look accomplishes that goal.
Aside from the fourth line, which will see the return of Julian Gauthier, the top three lines have been completely reshuffled. Artemi Panarin was moved up to play with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, who is making the switch to right wing. Vincent Trocheck will play with two straight line wingers in Barclay Goodrow and Jimmy Vesey. Finally, the Kid Line returns featuring Filip Chytil in the middle of Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.
“A lot of changes,” Gallant said on Saturday. “We’re just trying to balance everything out.”
Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:
New York Rangers (25-14-7) vs. Florida Panthers (23-20-5)
Date/Time: January 23, 2023 at 7:00 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden
Radio: ESPN 98.7
New York Rangers rework lines for Cats
In the Rangers last game, a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins, Gallant was displeased with the defensive play of Panarin and Trocheck.
“I’ve talked about our second line all year long playing harder defensively and not giving up the odd man rushes,” Gallant stated. “[Panarin and Trocheck] have to better than what they are… They better get better. We need a lot more defensively. They’re our top players and they could’ve scored three or four, but they could’ve given up four or five just as easy. That’s not what coaches want.”
After Sunday’s practice, the head coach stuck to his desire for better defense but wanted it known that the changes weren’t just too break up the second line. That was stressed when talking about the kids and wanting them to shoot more.
“That’s what you want from them,” he said. “I think they’re a solid line defensively too. I think they’re comfortable together and they like each other. I think it could be a good line for a long time and hopefully that’s the case.”
Regarding the new line centered by Trocheck, Gallant can sees them matching up against anyone. The sense is that playing with Vesey and Goodrow makes them a more direct to the puck unit and hopefully will cause Trocheck to shoot more as well.
Despite the Blueshirts loss to Boston, they’re still 14-4-2 in their past 20 games and hold third place in the Metro by a point over the Washington Capitals. New York also has three games in hand.
Gallant did not reveal who will start for the Rangers on Monday.
Igor Shesterkin holds a career record of 2-1-0 against Florida, with a GAA of 3.05 and a .905 save percentage.
Jaroslav Halak is 14-5-2 lifetime versus the Panthers, with a GAA of 2.17 and a .908 save percentage.
Update: Igor Shesterkin starts vs Panthers.
Panthers heating up
The Florida Panthers are heating up with two wins in their last 10 games and riding a two game winning streak.
Alex Lyon is expected to make the start when they face the Rangers with Spencer Knight coming off an injury and playing for the Panthers AHL squad on Sunday. Starter Sergei Bobrovsky suffered a lower-body injury in Thursday’s win over the Montreal Canadiens and remains out.
Staying on the injury front, both center Sam Bennett and defenseman Aaron Ekblad could miss this matchup with upper-body injuries.
Even with their third string goalie in net and potential injury concerns, the Panthers still have some serious firepower with Aleksander Barkov (40 points) and Matthew Tkachuk (59 points).
This will be no walk in the park for the Blueshirts.
Update: Panthers confirm Lyon in net. Both Bennett and Ekblad in.
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