The Rangers are 2-0 since releasing the memo and waving a symbolic white flag on the season. Professional athletes are proud people however, and the Rangers responded by playing four pretty good periods out of their next six. They largely deserved Friday night’s win over Calgary, and Henrik Lundqvist did his thing in Winnipeg, carrying the Rangers to a second straight victory.
Yesterday, the one and only @HockeyStatMiner posted this:
In terms of points% rank, here is #NYR’s remaining schedule before trade deadline
— HockeyStatMiner (@HockeyStatMiner) February 11, 2018
The schedule ahead, in terms of opponent’s record, isn’t exactly difficult. It is conceivable that the Rangers head into the trade deadline on a bit of a run, which would be something. But first things first, let’s take a look at the week ahead.
Tuesday 2/13 @ Minnesota Wild (30-19-6) – 8:00 PM ET
The Wild present an interesting match-up. In many ways, they’re Rangers West, relying on a quantity over quality approach. To wit: at 5v5, Minnesota’s CF% of 46.08 is 30th in the NHL, ahead of only the Rangers, while their xGF% of 51.65 ranks 11th. The Wild are a very good home team (just four regulation losses in 28 home games), and the Xcel Energy Center is home to one of the best regular season atmospheres in the league. That said, the Rangers just handled business in Winnipeg, so anything is possible.
Thursday 2/15 @ New York Islanders (27-24-6) – 7:00 PM ET
In a season full of low points, rock bottom may have been the hideous 7-2 loss to the Islanders a month ago. The Rangers were truly exposed in that game, and had no answer for Matthew Barzal, who torched the Blueshirts for 5 points. Amazingly, Barzal has had another 5-point game since then, but the Islanders as a team have matched the Rangers’ mediocrity. The Isles’ raw goal differential is -17, worst in the Metropolitan Division, and they too struggle in terms of puck possession. Barclays Center is always littered with enough Rangers sweaters to tip the balance of fan support, and hopefully the team on the ice has revenge on its mind.
Saturday 2/17 @ Ottawa Senators (19-26-9) – 2:00 PM ET
Afternoon hockey in Ottawa! Who’s stoked? If you’re feeling down about the state of the Rangers, just check the timeline of @BonksMullet for the latest and greatest from Sens GM Pierre Dorion, who was just granted a contract extension. The Senators are in a bad way and are thus #allinforDahlin. They rank at or near the bottom of the NHL in almost every traditional and advanced category (third-worst record and raw goal differential, worst 5v5 xGF%). Still, Erik Karlsson exists and this is the NHL, so nothing is guaranteed.
Sunday 2/18 vs. Philadelphia Flyers (27-19-9*) – 12:00 PM ET
The Rangers demolished Philadelphia 5-1 in January, but since then the Flyers have gone on a run. Their streak, coinciding with a Devils slump, means that Philly holds third place in the Metro at the time of this post (*record above does not include Sunday night’s result vs. VGK). The Flyers are still top heavy, relying on their first line, power play and steady goaltending (yes, it’s true) to get results. Conversely, the Rangers may be able to take advantage of their own power play opportunities, as the Flyers sport a penalty kill success rate of 74.4%, third-worst in the NHL.
MIN 4 – NYR 2
NYR 5 – NYI 4 (OT)
NYR 3 – OTT 2
PHI 3 – NYR 2 (SO)
Leave your predictions in the comments below, and enjoy a hockey-filled week, gang."Weekly Preview: To Tank or Not To Tank?",