Rangers look to keep Connor McDavid and Oilers in check

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at New York Rangers
Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

As the New York Rangers gear up to face the Edmonton Oilers this Friday at Madison Square Garden, excitement is in the air for what promises to be a thrilling encounter between two highly skilled teams. Notably, this game marks the first of the Rangers’ fifth back-to-back set so far this season, as they will also host the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night before the holiday break.

New York is coming off their third straight win on Tuesday night, as they took down the Toronto Maple Leafs, 5-2. Mika Zibanejad (2G) and Erik Gustafsson (3A) led the way offensively, but it was another unlikely hero who stepped up in a big way. Braden Schneider, who came into Tuesday’s game with just one goal on the season, ended up providing the game winner for the Blueshirts.

“It’s not always something I’m thinking about,” Schneider said after the win. “But it definitely feels good to get a big goal like that.”

Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers (22-7-1) vs Edmonton Oilers (14-15-1)
Date/Time: December 22, 2023 @ 7:30 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden
TV: ESPN Plus/Hulu
Radio: ESPN 98.7 FM

Note: Subject to change, updated for each game

Related: Rangers should target Steven Stamkos at trade deadline

New York Rangers Projected Lineup

New York Rangers
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports

No changes are expected in the Rangers lineup. Coming off of two impressive wins over the Bruins and Maple Leafs, Igor Shesterkin is expected to be in goal for New York.

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

Lindgren – Fox
Miller – Trouba
Gustafsson – Schneider

Quick
Shesterkin

Note: The Rangers will have a pre-game skate scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET at the MSG Training Center. Check back for updates.

Update: Jonathan Quick will start versus the Oilers.

New York Rangers vs Edmonton Oilers

The Rangers are riding a wave of success, having won three consecutive games, four out of their last five, and an impressive seven out of their last ten. Their outstanding performance is reflected in their +19-goal differential, which not only leads the Eastern Conference but places them fifth in the entire NHL. With 22 wins, they are tied for the most in the NHL, and their 45 points rank third in the league. Their .750-point percentage is the highest in the NHL, indicating their consistency and dominance this season.

This season, the Rangers have achieved a new milestone in their franchise history. Their 22 wins in the first 30 games surpass the previous best of 21 victories set back in 1993-94. On home ice, their prowess is even more pronounced with a 10-3-0 record, ranking them second in the league for home points percentage (.769). Their power play at home is a significant threat, ranking second in the league.

The Rangers have been a defensive stronghold, leading the league by allowing one or fewer goals in 12 games. Their faceoff percentage stands at an impressive 55.3%, the best in the NHL. They have also excelled in special teams, boasting the NHL’s best (tied) power play percentage at 31.3% and scoring power play goals in five straight games. Additionally, they have a robust penalty kill percentage at 85.3%.

New York has shown exceptional resilience with 11 comeback wins, leading the league in this aspect. They have also managed six wins when trailing at any point in the third period, highlighting their never-say-die attitude. The Rangers’ ability to win close games is further emphasized by their 10 one-goal wins, tied for the most in the NHL.

The Oilers, coached by Kris Knoblauch, a familiar figure who was the head coach of the Rangers’ AHL affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack from 2019-2023, face a formidable opponent in the Rangers. Their season has been a mix of highs and lows, with a record of 13-15-1. The Oilers’ road performance (4-9-0) will be severely tested against the Rangers’ strong home record.

“Working with him (in New York), he’s a real nice person,” Laviolette said of Knoblauch. “Detailed oriented and he did a good job in our organization. It’s easy to see that translate (in Edmonton).”

Edmonton is led by their captain and best player in the league, Connor McDavid, as well as his right-hand man, Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman, who leads the team in goals. To no one’s surprise, McDavid and Draisaitl are the top two-point getters for the Oilers, and they will pose a great challenge for the Rangers all night long. In the Blueshirts 3-0 win over the Oilers on the road earlier this season, McDavid did not play.

As the Rangers aim to continue their incredible season, the Oilers are looking to make a statement. With both teams bringing their best to the ice, tonight’s game is set to be a memorable one for hockey fans.

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