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Rangers close out road trip in Buffalo with Skapski back in net

Bobby Bevilacqua

mackenzie skapski side profile 2-20

Mackenzie Skapski will make his second career NHL start tonight, giving Cam Talbot an opportunity for a night off. Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Rangers (42-17-7) will close out a season-high five game road trip tonight when they take on the Buffalo Sabres (19-42-6) for the third and final time this year, with the Rangers looking to sweep the season series.

These two teams played back on February 20th in Buffalo, which was a makeup of a postponed game from November. Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello both scored goals, and Rick Nash had a goal and an assist. Mackenzie Skapski made his NHL debut, and made 24 saves to earn his first career win.

On this road trip, the Rangers are 3-0-1, winning their last three games. The Rangers are 8-1-1 in their last 10 road games, and lead the NHL in road wins with 21. Their last game was Wednesday night, a 3-1 victory over the Washington Capitals. They got some bad news after the game, learning that Kevin Klein will be out at least 3-4 weeks with a broken arm.

In his absence, Matt Hunwick will have to step up and take his place. Hunwick has done a really great job stepping up in other player’s absence, with eight points and a +12 rating in 40 games this season. Hunwick plays left side usually, and the void Klein left is on the right. Hunwick may shift over, but if he cannot, Ryan McDonagh has play the right side before. Either way, the defensive pairings will be juggled throughout the game.

matt hunwick 2-24

Matt Hunwick will have to step up in the absence of Kevin Klein, and will get an opportunity to prove himself yet again. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Sabres have been one of the league’s worst teams throughout the season, dealing with some injury, tons of trades, and a lot of AHL call-ups. They have won just five times since December 29th, and are winless in their last five games (0-4-1). They’ve scored the fewest goals in the NHL (129), and have a league worst -99 goal differential.

Matt Moulson was one of the league’s feared snipers during his time with the Islanders, hitting the 30 goal mark three times. Like the Sabres, Moulson has struggled to find success, with just 33 points (10-23-33). That’s still good enough for second on the team in scoring, and despite his struggles, Moulson will always be a threat to score.

After trading away both their number 1 and 2 goalies before the deadline, the Sabres are now going with Anders Lindback, who will be making his fourth start for Buffalo. In his four appearances, Lindback is 0-2-1, allowing 11 goals on 128 shots for a .914 save percentage.

The Rangers have an incredible 31-7-3 record since December 8th, as well as going 13-2-3 since Lundqvist was injured. Cam Talbot has started all but one of those games, and with the Rangers playing again tomorrow at 5 PM, Mackenzie Skapski will get another start, giving Talbot an important night off.

Kevin Hayes has continues to impress throughout the season, getting better as the season goes on. He’s coming into tonight’s game with three points (1-2-3) in his last three games, including two primary assists on Wednesday. Hayes is 7th on the team in scoring with 32 points (13-19-32), and is part of a solid third line for New York.

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Kevin Hayes is playing better and better as the season goes on, with three points in his last three games. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Dan Boyle has been playing really well since Keith Yandle came to New York, with the trade likely taking some pressure off of him. Boyle will get more minutes in the absence of Klein, as he is one of the two natural right side defensemen on the roster. Boyle had quite a few good offensive chances on Wednesday, positioning himself well. The points will start coming for him soon as he continues to settle into the Rangers game plan.

There will be no lineup changes, meaning that Tanner Glass will start his third straight game. Glass has been playing well lately, and is in search of his first goal as a Ranger. Glass will continue to skate alongside Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast.

The Rangers and the Sabres will face off at 7 PM at the first Niagara Center. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINES (Not Confirmed)

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stapan-Martin St. Louis

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-JT Miller

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Matt Hunwick

Mackenzie Skapski

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Posted on March 14, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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