Rangers look for important rebound game without Klein and Nash

Bobby Bevilacqua

Rangers vs Wild 12-17

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Just about everything that could have went wrong, went wrong for the Rangers (27-18-5) on Tuesday night. They lost an important interdivision battle against the Devils, lost Kevin Klein indefinitely to a fractured thumb, and are just two points away from being out of the playoffs entirely.

After that, it was announced that Rick Nash’s bone bruise hasn’t really healed, and he’ll miss tonight’s game as well. In the wake of the injuries to Klein and the continued absence of Nash, the team decided to call up Jayson Megna again as opposed to a defenseman. That tells me two things;

  1. They have faith in Dylan McIlrath to play in Klein’s role, and they should
  2. Nash’s injury is probably more serious than initially thought, or AV wants to shake up the lineup to try and slap some sense into this team.

The wheels are falling off all at once, and Vigneault is doing his best to do damage control. Some of the fault is his to shoulder, like when it comes to personnel decisions and deployment of players, but it seems like everything is going wrong.

The Rangers are back home and squaring off against another team going through a rough patch, the Minnesota Wild (23-18-9). The Wild find themselves outside of the playoffs in a very tough Central Division. In the last 14 games, Minnesota is 3-8-3, and the problems are the typical ones. They’re not scoring enough and they’re giving up too many goals.

Tonight’s matchup marks the second and final game between the Rangers and Wild, and the only one at Madison Square Garden. New York lost by a score of 5-2 back in December, with goals coming from Ryan McDonagh and Dominic Moore. Wild captain Mikko Koivu scored twice and finished with three points.

Devan Dubnyk turned his end of season success into a Vezina Nomination and a lengthy contract with the Wild. He’s been the go-to-guy for Mike Yeo, starting 39 games this season and posting an 18-16-5 record with a .920 save percentage and a 2.31 GAA.

Charlie Coyle extended his career high goal streak to four games in Minnesota’s 5-3 loss to the Islanders on Tuesday. He’s already surpassed his career high with 14 goals, and he’s fifth on the team in scoring with 26 points.

Coyle will be skating on a line with Mikko Koivu, the Wild’s leading point scorer with 10 goals and 35 points. However, he’s gone 15 games without a goal, and has just four points in that same span. He’ll be looking to bounce back and have another three point performance like he did against the Rangers in December.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be back in net for the Rangers tonight, starting his 42nd game of the season. He played relatively well against the Devils, allowing just one weak goal and finishing with 22 saves. He’s allowed two goals or less in five of his last seven starts.

With Kevin Klein’s injury, Dylan McIlrath will be a full-time player once again. When Dan Girardi, Kevin Klein and others were injured earlier in the year, he played an increasingly important role under Vigneault and played that role well. In his last game, he played for just over 14 minutes, paired with Keith Yandle and scored his second goal of the season. McIlrath has another chance to prove that he belongs in the lineup.

I’ll keep talking about it until it’s not relevant, but JT Miller continues to shine and solidify his role as a top six forward. He scored another two goals on Tuesday, bringing his season total to 15, good enough for third on the team. Miller has six goals in the last five games and will be leaned on heavily with Nash still sidelined.

The Rangers special teams has been atrocious. Not only have they scored just two power play goals in the last 14 games, one of them coming on the rush, but they continue to fail on the penalty kill, giving up another two against the Devils. The Rangers 25th ranked power play needs to be better.

Jayson Megna was recalled from the Hartford Wolf Pack, and will replace Tanner Glass in the lineup. I’m very pleased that Vigneault isn’t scratching someone like Oscar Lindberg and Kevin Hayes. The fourth line has been horrendous, and Megna gives Moore a winger with some speed and skill. I would have liked to see Paille out, because he’s been pretty awful, but this is a good start.

The Rangers and the Wild will face off at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG 2.


JT Miller-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Jesper Fast

Oscar Lindberg-Kevin Hayes-Viktor Stalberg

Jayson Megna-Dominic Moore-Daniel Paille

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Dylan Mcilrath

Henrik Lundqvist

Posted on February 4, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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