Rangers and Devils set for MSG tilt with key players missing on both sides, and Shesterkin’s swagger is back

Feb 8, 2021; New York, NY, USA; Igor Shesterkin #31 of the New York Rangers prepares to play against the New York Islanders at Madison Square Garden on February 08, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Rangers vs Devils: The Blueshirts are coming off a winless week where they picked up one point in a OTL and were shutout twice. Tonight they will face a team that hasn’t played in weeks due to COVID issues; the Devils.

Rangers: 4-6-3 (11 pts)
Devils: 4-3-2 (10 pts)

(7:00 p.m. ET – TV: MSG Network, Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM)

Rangers vs Devils: No Panarin or Miller for Blueshirts

David Quinn informed the press that both Artemi Panarin and K’Andre Miller will be kept out of the lineup tonight. He mentioned them both being “close” but it sounds like a wise and cautious move to keep them out.

The Devils are expected to be without Nikita Gusev, Travis Zajac, Nico Hischier, and Dmitry Kulikov tonight as they remain on the COVID list. So both teams will enter the contest with key players absent.

Igor Shesterkin has his “swagger” back

rangers vs devils
Shesterkin (Photo by Justin K. Aller/NHLI via Getty Images)

There is one word in coach Quinn’s vocabulary he likes and when he uses “swagger” it’s a really good thing. That’s how he feels about Igor Shesterkin’s goaltending as of late this season.

“There’s a swagger to him – it looks like he’s back to form [from last season],” the coach remarked today. Shesterkin will be starting his 6th in the last 8 games. He does so on the strength of having allowed only two goals or less in each of his last five appearances, posting a 1.60 GAA and a .944 SV% over the span.

Pre Game Notes

  • All-Time vs Devils*: 120-95-27-10 (67-34-20-4 at home; 53-61-7-6 on the road) *Note: All-time record includes games against the Kansas City Scouts from 1974-75 – 1975-76 and the Colorado Rockies from 1976-77 – 1981-82
  • Mika Zibanejad – 24 GP, 9-13-22 – Zibanejad enters the contest with a four-game point streak against the Devils (three goals, three assists). He has posted a multi-point game in two of the last four games and in five of the last nine games (six goals, eight assists) against the Devils. His only goal of the season game against NJ.
  • Each of the Rangers’ last 11 games, and 11 of the team’s 13 games this season, have been decided by two or fewer goals, and eight of those contests have been decided by one goal.
  • The Blueshirts rank second in the NHL in takeaways this season (109; Vancouver – 117) and lead the NHL in takeaways per 60 minutes of ice time in 2020-21 (8.27). Three Rangers defensemen rank among the top 10 defensemen in the NHL in takeaways thus far this season: K’Andre Miller (ranks first with 12).

*Notes courtesy of NYR

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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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