The New York Rangers will look to bounce back from a couple of disappointing losses tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. Zach put up an excellent piece previewing this matchup from the Sabres perspective so it is only fitting that the resident Ranger fan hops on as well. The Rangers are in the middle of a 3 game skid after losing to the Devils and then twice to the Penguins. In all three of those games, the Rangers were the better team on the ice, but they could not close it out. Kappo Kaako and Adam Fox have been playing some of the best hockey of their young careers while K’Andre Miller and Alexis Lafreniere have certainly impressed. Aretmi Panarin, Chris Kreider, and Mika Zibanejad have all been fairly quiet to start this season.
Buffalo has been in perpetual rebuild mode. They are wasting the talents of future Ranger Jack Eichel, but they have made some moves to try and convince their captain they mean business. What will the Rangers be bringing to Buffalo this evening?
Jack Johnson back in the lineup
This one has Rangers fan scratching their heads everywhere. After being bought out by the Penguins, the Rangers brought in the veteran defenseman on a one-year contract. By all accounts, Johnson is an amazing person who is great in the locker room. However, that is where the greatness stops when it comes to hockey for him. Johnson has been one of, if not the worst defenseman analytically in the NHL the past few seasons. He is one player where the eye test and the analytics matchup. Survey says… he sucks. Johnson was taken out of the lineup in favor of Brendan Smith on Sunday, but David Quinn has pulled out his Uno reverse card and has flipped the two.
Alex Georgiev in Net
The Rangers have been rolling with their two goalies fairly evenly to start the season. Igor got the season opener and put up a stinker while Georgiev has not looked much better. However, he does have the lone win on the season with the second game against the Islanders. Both goalies have given up some soft goals that have put the Rangers behind in a couple of games. Simply put, you cannot give the other team free goals and stop the ones you are supposed to stop.
Filip Chytil Out
Perhaps the most impressive player for the Rangers so far this season has been the young veteran Filip Chytil. Chytil has been around for what seems like forever, but friendly reminder that he is only 21 years old. Chytil was taking his game to the next level so far this season and has been clicking on a line with Phil Di Giuseppe and Kappo Kaako. However, Chytil is now out 4-6 with an upper body injury. Because the NHL is dumb, that is the most specific information that the public knows regarding his injury. With Chytil out, look for Brett Howden to fill his role on the third line between Kakko and Di Giuseppe.
The Rangers have been playing some very fun hockey in this shortened season. This is the final year of the rebuild and fans have been seeing some very encouraging signs. Adam Fox looks like a Norris candidate while K’Andre Miller may be playing himself into Calder consideration. Look for the Rangers to be on the attack early and often tonight against Buffalo. The Rangers have some extremely skilled forwards that can dominate the game offensively. Defensively speaking, let’s hope they stay out of the penalty box so Jack Johnson has very limited ice time.
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-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)