The Rangers return home to face the Bruins, who played yesterday afternoon, in a matinee affair at MSG after finishing off a three-game road trip sweep Friday against the Blue Jackets. Chris Kreider's goal with 3:11 remaining gave New York the win. Alexandar Georgiev, that contest's #1 goalie, was brilliant, stopping 36 shots for the victory to earn back-to-back W's for the Blueshirts.
Following this afternoon's match up, New York heads on the road to face Chicago (Wed) and Carolina (Friday) before facing San Jose at home (Saturday), which leads into the trade deadline. After next Monday's deadline, the Blueshirts will be on the road to take on the Islanders (2/25), Canadiens (2/27) and Flyers (2/28). The playoff race is starting to warm and many of those contests will have an impact on the Wild Card battle.
Today's lineup updates:
David Quinn after Friday's game:
Lineup Friday night
, which should be the same today, at least up front:
Kreider - Zibanejad - Buchnevich
Panarin - Strome - Fast
Di Giuseppe - Chytil - Kakko
Lemieux - McKegg - Howden
Skjei - Trouba
Lindgren - Fox
Staal - Smith
sat out Friday's game with an upper-body injury, which looked to be to his shoulder, suffered late in the game Thursday on a check. The injury is not believed to be serious but it's unclear if ADA will go today. Fox replaced DeAngelo on the top power-play unit, resulting in an assist on the winning goal as he led the team with 23:27 time on ice. As Vince Mercogliano noted in his column, Lindgren brought his usual toughness and defensively integrity, which earned him the Broadway Hat. (And a bloody mouth). That duo should remain together and for the most part have been, separated for a brief stint when Lindgren was tried with Jacob Trouba. Lindgren is the quasi-Beukeboom to Fox's Leetch, if comparing eras, though neither are close to that status.
Marc Staal returned after missing a game with the flu. He was pretty solid, as was Brendan Smith, pressed into action for the second straight game with ADA out. Smith moved from the left to the right side fairly seamlessly. He is a candidate to go at the trade deadline or this offseason, but having him available to step in when needed was beneficial.
If Smith didn't get the nod and/or if Staal was still out, Joey Keane
, called up Friday would have gotten the nod. The 20-year-old, selected in the third round (88 overall) in 2018, had skated in 48 games with the Wolf Pack this season, registering eight goals and 20 assists for 28 points. He played in the 2020 AHL All-Star Challenge and is tied for sixth among AHL defensemen in goals while ranking first among rookie defensemen. Keane had recorded five points (two goals and three assists) in his last six games.
Keane, 6-foot, 187-pounder, has moved up the ranks in terms of Rangers' prospects. His reputation is as an offensive player, but Kris Knoblauch and the staff in Hartford has helped Keane defensively. Keane can play either side, but is probably better suited to the right side. His cup of coffee was brief, but his fine play in the minors means that he could be up before the end of the year and appears to have an in when a role opens up on the blue line, especially if he continues the growth seen this year.
made 21 saves alone in the second period and 36 total. He was aided by Boone Jenner hitting the post on a breakaway just before Kreider's goal. But as Mercogliano pointed out, Georgiev stayed with Jenner and close off the space to force the shot just wide enough. "I just tried to be patient and cover as much as possible and wait for him to make the move," he said.
I like that Quinn went to Georgiev off his solid game Thursday. What that means for Henrik Lundqvist is unclear, but the comparisons to Eli Maning become closer and closer to how this might play out to a certain extent. Lundqvist is still a proud goalie and can play in the league, as seen especially by his advanced metrics. I am not forcing him out, the team and organization won't force him out. But with Igor Shesterkin, who might be able to play today after missing two games with his ankle injury, and Georgiev in place, three is probably a crowd. But a decision on culling that list to two may not occur until after the season.
Hot KZB line:
New York's first goal Friday was the 13th goal of the season for Buchnevich
and sixth in his last 10 games. Like last year, Buch is having a second rise. Unlike last year, he is not just doing on the scoresheet, but playing well in all three zones, which was recognized by Quinn after the game. Quinn has used tough love on Buchnevich, but his attention and focus on detail has clearly paid great dividends. While Buch's name may still be on the trade block, if New York does move him - which to me would be a mistake - the return sure as heck better warrant the deal.
"The thing about Buchnevich is all the things he's doing that maybe a scorer usually doesn't do," Quinn said. "His defense has gotten a lot better. He makes a heck of a play defensively in the third period coming by our bench and backchecking. He makes a great poke check and we go the other way. His wall play was really good and he was in a great position defensively."
has registered a point in seven of his last nine games, 12 of his last 16 and 21 of his last 28. He has not gone two consecutive games without a point in that span. If he is to be heading out of town, which is not certain, he certainly is going out with a bang. You know my view is find a way to sign him long term and slap the C on his jersey.
The numbers below show just how good he has been. Add in the 18 power-play points and you have a skater producing in different manners, which has been the case all year. A veritable $11.6 million bargain.
Wins in 2019-20 compared 2018-19:
. Pretty interesting to see where New York is compared to last year. The rebuild has been accelerated. They are not yet to the point where we all would like or believe they will be, but the rise has started. Maintaining that rise and getting to the next level are the two challenges that lay ahead. I think they can and will get there, the timing is the question.
Keane is one prospect who has moved up the rankings. Morgan Barron
is another and he is on a roll. I would expect New York to sign him after Cornell's season ends and for him to possibly play a few games at Hartford at the end of the year.