Rangers vs Penguins: Fight to remain in playoff race continues; Julien Gauthier scratched

new york rangers
Jan 30, 2021; New York, New York, USA;(l-r) K'Andre Miller #79, Jacob Trouba #8 and Chris Kreider #20 of the New York Rangers celebrate Kreider's second period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden on January 30, 2021 in New York City. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight at MSG. If the Blueshirts hope to stay in the playoff race this is a win they need. With four games until the NHL Trade Deadline; the Rangers must beat the likes of the Penguins and Islanders (two games against each).

Rangers: 17-15-5 (39 pts)
Penguins: 24-12-2 (50 pts)

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

Igor Shesterkin to start; Di Giuseppe in and Gauthier out

Igor Shesterkin
Bruce Bennett/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

David Quinn will start Igor Shesterkin in net tonight. He has a 1-1-1 lifetime record against the Penguins with a solid 2.30 GAA and a .904 SV%. The 25 year-old net minder picked up his first career win in his last start against Pittsburgh on February 1 at MSG.

Another lineup decision was to reinsert Phil Di Giuseppe back in as the 4th line left wing and move Vitali Kravtsov back to the right wing. That means Julien Gauthier will be scratched in favor of the more defensively oriented PDG.

Key Rangers to watch tonight

Jacob Trouba is set to play in his 100th game as a member of the New York Rangers tonight. The Rangers alternate captain has recorded three assist in his last five game against the Penguins. He will need to play a key role in shutting down the Pens offense tonight.

The “KZB” line needs to wake up. It’s plain and simple that they were not very effective 5 on 5 against the Sabres the last two games. If the Blueshirts hope to beat Pittsburgh they will need their top two lines leading the way.

The “Kids Line” also needs to produce tonight. David Quinn provided his reasoning for moving Kaapo Kakko off the 2nd line. His goal was to get Kakko away from the opposition’s top two lines and defensive pairings. Quinn has the last change and he must make sure that the kid line is getting not only ample ice time; but favorable match ups too.

NY Rangers Pre Game Notes

  • All-Time vs Penguins: 131-116-23-16 (73-54-9-8 at home; 58-62-14-8 on the road)
  • The average age of a player on the Rangers’ active roster is 25.2 years old. The Blueshirts have the youngest team in the NHL, and their average age is nearly a full year younger than the second-youngest team in the NHL. In addition, 10 of the 22 players on the Rangers’ active roster are 23 years old or younger.
  • The Rangers have posted a plus-21 goal differential over the last 12 games (49 goals for, 28 goals against). New York has posted a plus-18 goal differential this season, which is the third-best among teams in the MassMutual NHL East Division.
  • Among the 74 NHL players who have logged at least 80:00 of shorthanded ice time this season, Ryan Lindgren (1.90), Pavel Buchnevich (2.72), and Adam Fox (3.32) rank first, second, and third, respectively, in power play goals against per 60 minutes of shorthanded ice time.

Notes courtesy 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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