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Rangers look to extend winning streak to nine in New Jersey vs. Devils

February 22, 2024, 11:21 PM ET [553 Comments]
Jan Levine
New York Rangers Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Rangers begin a string of four divisional games tonight in New Jersey against the Devils. New York plays the first three of those four away from MSG, finishing the stretch with a home contest on the tail end of a home-to-home with Columbus. The Blueshirts can put a little dent in the Devils' playoff hopes with a win tonight, though as we have seen recently versus this team, nothing is easy.

Rangers possible lineup vs. Devils:

Kreider-Zibanejad-Vesey
Panarin-Trocheck-Lafrenière
Cuylle-Brodzinski-Kakko
Edström-Goodrow-Rempe

Miller-Trouba
Lindgren-Fox
Gustafsson-Schneider

Shesterkin
Quick

Scratches: Jones, Belzile, Othmann
LTIR: Chytil, Wheeler

The above is based on the presumption that both Artemi Panarin and Jimmy Vesey, both game-time decisions, play. Panarin blocked a shot with his foot/ankle Tuesday and hobbled off the ice. He was able to return but feeling the after-effects. The same with Vesey, who was hit in the mouth in the win and may not be able to give it a go.

If both are sidelined, Alex Belzile and Brennan Othmann, the latter called up yesterday, will dress in their place. The lines will be a jumble, though we could see Kaapo Kakko skate on the first line, Othmann at left wing on the second, Barclay Goodrow move up to third line right wing and Belzile on the fourth line. Coach Peter Laviolette could opt to keep the fourth line intact and use Belzile on the third line since he has been used in a scoring role in Hartford.

All this is pure speculation until pre-game warmups, at which point a decision will be made. Having either or both out adds to the challenge of beating New Jersey and makes matching up properly even more important. Protecting the bottom trio - at least to a certain extent - makes sense, given the speed of the Devils' top line.

(Update 6:45pm: Panarin and Vesey in lineup)

Igor Shesterkin makes his third straight start. Rolling with the hot hand makes sense. Jonathan Quick will start Feb. 24 against Philly or Feb. 25 in Columbus, which will avoid him getting stale. Shesterkin should be between the pipes again Feb. 28 at home against the Blue Jackets and could reel off a string of games until the next back-to-back, March 11 and 12 versus NJ and CAR.

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