NEW YORK, NY – The New York Hockey Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins go head-to-head tonight in a battle for 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division. The Rangers are currently one point ahead of Sid & Co. with two games in hand. The Madison Square Garden tenants are looking to consolidate the 2nd spot in the Metro and keep pace with the Carolina Hurricanes, who are five points ahead of the Blueshirts.
New York comes into this afternoon’s tilt on the heels of a comprehensive win over the Washington Capitals Thursday night. The Caps are in fourth place, four points behind the Penguins. NY kept up their solid play, led by a dominant Igor Shesterkin in net. Igor is the clear favorite to win the Vezina Trophy this season and could even get some Hart Trophy consideration. Igor was annoyed he gave up a late goal against the Capitals Thursday night. The Rangers won 4-1 but a late Ovechkin goal denied Shesty the shutout. He’s kept the Rangers in games that they should have lost by lopsided score lines.
All is not well with the Blueshirts, though. They have found it difficult to score goals 5-on-5. There is an obvious gap at the right wing position. A gap that makes the Pavel Buchnevich trade look worse and worse with each passing game. The Rangers traded Buchnevich to Cam James’ Blues last summer for the gritty Sammy Blais and a second rounder. Blais notched four points in 14 games before being placed on IR for the season. Buchnevich has had a stellar season in St. Louis, averaging just under a point per game.
He’s done it, folks! Pavel Buchnevich is now officially a star. And the Rangers officially traded a star for loose change. pic.twitter.com/b7vCUPu4FD
— Byron Bader (@ByronMBader) February 22, 2022
The Broadway Blues are on the market for a right winger. They’ll look to add on before next month’s trade deadline. The Blueshirts will need to be at their best down the stretch with a lot of tough games to go including two games against Buchnevich and the Blues, four games against the Penguins, and three games against the Hurricanes. They’ve also got three games against the rival Islanders, who have had a disappointing season but will definitely be looking to play the role of spoiler down the stretch.
The New Yorkers do control their destiny and need to keep winning games over the final two months to stay ahead of the Caps and Pens. Keeping pace with the ‘Canes is the aim. They’ve got 31 games left and they may need to win 20 of them to stay where they are in the standings. Look for them to add a goal-scoring right wing at the deadline. The injury to Kaapo Kakko really hurt in that department. Kakko should return some time in March, right around the deadline. But other than K-Kakk TM, the Rangers really don’t have a viable scoring right wing.
It will be a fun two months until the end of the season and hopefully… a long postseason for the your NY Rangers.
Speaking of fun, come back tomorrow for Mr. Fun, Grinding Ax Walt.