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A veritable who's who on the sidelines tonight for the Blueshirts

February 24, 2021, 6:49 PM ET [401 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers lineup, decimated by a variety of issues and circumstances, take on the Flyers tonight. New York, off a win Saturday, on Monday, added Artemi Panarin to the mix of players who will miss tonight's game. No timetable - as one is impossible to determine - has been set for the return of Breadman, who is dealing with issues way greater than any hockey game.  As more and more news and reports come to forefront, the accusation appears less and less likely to have even a kernel of truth, but until more is settled, Panarin will remain out of the lineup.

Panarin joins Kaapo Kakko (COVID protocol), Filip Chytil (at week four of a 4-6 week absence from his injury, during which he too ended up on the COVID protocol list) and Jacob Trouba (broken thumb) on the sidelines. K'Andre Miller was a last minute scratch, as he too landed on the COVID protocol list, meaning that Jack Johnson will be in the lineup. He will be paired with Brendan Smith.

When Chytil was placed on the list, the hope was that he was not around the team during the contagious period. Kakko's absence has not been linked to him, but Miller joining that list could mean that others on the team might also be sidelined, which would mean postponements and rescheduling. Unsure, how Laf, who may be rooming with Miller is playing, and given what we saw with Buffalo and New Jersey a few weeks ago, why this game is being played. Hopefully, no more cases are announced, but wouldn't be shocking based on what we have seen to date.

Julien Gauthier has a solid spot in the lineup, for now, with three forwards out, joined by Jonny Brodzinski, called up from Hartford. Igor Shesterkin will be between the pipes. Philly had their own COVID issues, scratching six players last week, but get Claude Giroux back tonight. 

Forwards
First line → Alexis Lafrenière (LW) • Mika Zibanejad (C) • Pavel Buchnevich (RW)
Second line → Chris Kreider (LW) • Ryan Strome (C) • Colin Blackwell (RW)
Third line → Brendan Lemieux (LW) • Brett Howden (C) • Julien Gauthier (RW)
Fourth line → Phil Di Giuseppe (LW) • Kevin Rooney (C) • Jonny Brodzinski (RW)

Defense
Top pair → Ryan Lindgren (L) • Adam Fox (R)
Second pair → Jack Johnson (L) • Brendan Smith (R)
Third pair → Anthony Bitetto (L) • Libor Hájek (R)

Goalies
Starter → Igor Shesterkin
Backup → Alexandar Georgiev

As Vince Mercogliano (thanks to him for the lineup above)noted, the big boys need to step up tonight. Zib, Kreider and Buch especially. Ryan Strome has played well lately, but those three will need to lead the way. The pressure also gets ratcheted up on Laf, whose advanced metrics are much better than his action production, lending credence to the view that he is close to breaking out. With one-third of the top-nine out, including New York's best offensive weapon, tonight would be a good time for production to match or exceed the metrics.

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