Rangers start long road trip in Vegas against defending champs

On Thursday night, the New York Rangers will take on the Vegas Golden Knights in their first game of a four-game Western Conference road trip. It will be the first game of the season against the defending Stanley Cup champions, making this match up a great test for the Rangers to see how they stack up against last season’s victor.

The Rangers find themselves on a two-game win streak and are looking to extend it to three. They are coming off of a convincing 5-2 win over the Seattle Kraken, their best game in the month of January by far. The Rangers will need to keep up this level of play if they want to take down the Golden Knights.

Vegas has not shown any signs of a championship hangover. They currently sit 5th in the Western Conference and 8th in the NHL. Last season the Rangers won both of their contests against Vegas and have a 3-1-1 record in the last five meetings. They will look to continue that trend in this contest.

Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers (28-13-2) vs Vegas Golden Knights (25-14-5)
Date/Time: January 18, 2024 @ 10:30 PM ET
Arena: T-Mobile Arena
TV: MSGSN
Radio: ESPN 1050 AM

Note: Subject to change, updated for each game

New York Rangers projected lineup

NY RANGERS K'ANDRE MILLER
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off of one of their most complete games in quite some time, expect the Rangers to deploy the same lineup on Thursday night. Here are the expected line combinations and pairings:

Kreider – Zibanejad – Kakko
Panarin – Trocheck – Lafreniere
Cuylle – Brodzinski – Wheeler
Goodrow – Bonino – Vesey

Lindgren – Fox
Miller – Trouba
Gustafsson – Schneider

Shesterkin
Quick

Note: The Rangers will hold a morning skate at 2:30 PM ET at T-Mobile Arena. Check back in for updates.

New York Rangers vs Vegas Golden Knights

In their first test against the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Rangers will look to build on the momentum they have created over the last two games. Not only will this be a litmus test for New York, but it will set the tone for the following road trip which will last four games. Of the next six contests, five will be on the road.

The Rangers have had success on the road this season, specifically in the Western Conference. Against teams from the West, the Blueshirts hold a record of 13-5-1, and are 8-2-0 against Pacific Division teams.

In order to continue their success, the Rangers will look for another impressive showing from their top line. Kaapo Kakko seems to be fitting in well in his return as he scored a confidence-boosting goal against Seattle. Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider also played well as the Rangers’ lineup has begun to return to form with the addition of Kakko. As the line of Panarin-Trocheck-Lafreniere continues to fire on all cylinders, getting the first line rolling has been a huge priority for New York.

The Rangers will also look for Igor Shesterkin to follow up his previous performance in which he kept the team in the lead when Seattle was pushing hard.

“I thought he was really good,” said Laviolette. “You need your goaltender to make big saves and I thought he did (against Seattle).”

They will need all four lines to contribute against the Golden Knights, who have considerable depth as seen in last year’s playoffs. Against Seattle, New York finally saw scoring throughout their line-up.

“The balance was good, the scoring was good, we needed that,” Laviolette explained. “We hadn’t really had that the last few games. It seemed like we were pressing, and we couldn’t get it to go. (Against Seattle) it was nice to score some goals.”

The Golden Knights have no shortage of star-power. On offense, Jack Eichel and Mark Stone lead the way with 44 points each. However, Eichel is currently injured and will miss tonight’s game. On defense, Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore each have 18 points. In goal, Logan Thompson has received the majority of the starts. He holds a record of 14-9-3 with a save percentage of .908 and a GAA of 2.70.

It will be a good test for New York, who will finally get a chance to see where they stand in relation to the reigning Stanley Cup champions. With a four-game road trip set to begin, they will certainly be looking to start on a high note with a victory.

Milestones within reach

  • Ryan Lindgren will play in his 300th NHL game
  • Vincent Trocheck is one assist away from 300 career assists
  • Nick Bonino is one assist away from 200 career assists
  • Jonathan Quick is one start away from 755 career starts, which would tie Tom Barrasso for 3rd most among American-born goaltenders
  • Peter Laviolette is two wins away from tying Al Arbour for 7th most coaching wins in NHL history

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh