Analysis

NY Rangers Weekly Preview: The first road trip of 2021

The NHL season is off and running. Through 120 minutes of hockey, we’ve seen the full range of possibilities that may lie ahead for these young Rangers. If they have a lot of nights like last Thursday, we’ll be doing plenty of prospect scouting and mock draft content here at Blue Seat Blogs by April. But if they can consistently put forth efforts like we saw on Saturday night, we’ll be talking about the end of the “build” phase, and the opening of a window of Stanley Cup contention. Realistically, the remaining 54 games will likely fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes as we continue to preview the Rangers on a weekly basis.

This week presents the Rangers with an opportunity to grab two points at home against a team they should finish ahead of in the Eastern Division. This comes before commencing their first road trip with a back-to-back set in Pittsburgh.

Game 3 vs. New Jersey Devils (1-0-1) – Tuesday January 19

Hello Lindy Ruff! The much-maligned former Rangers assistant has the Devils off to a solid start. They played the Bruins close in their season-opening set. They dropped their first game in a shootout before bouncing back with an OT win.

Despite his reputation, it’s common knowledge that Lindy Ruff’s teams are generally poor defensively, though they held their own against Boston. The Devils also have a quality young goaltender in Mackenzie Blackwood, who is capable of stealing a game. The cast of characters in front of Blackwood features the yin to Kaapo Kakko’s yang Jack Hughes. He has already notched three assists in two games. Hughes headlines other young core pieces like Miles Wood, Damon Severson, and Pavel Zacha. Hughes aside, the Devils don’t feature much game-breaking talent, so the Rangers have a decided edge in that department.

The Devils are also in a rebuild, but a good two or even three seasons behind the Rangers. The Rangers are the better team at the moment, and given the games the Rangers have in this preview to come, two points are a must, especially at home.

Prediction: Despite the Blueshirts’ edge in talent, the Devils make it hard on the Rangers, like they did to Boston. In the end, the Rangers get it done with a strong third period and a Zibanejad power play goal to win a tight contest, 3-2.

Games 4 and 5 @ Pittsburgh Penguins (1-2-0) – Friday January 22 and Sunday January 24

The Penguins got AV’d by the Flyers, losing their first two despite out-shooting and out-chancing Philly. They bounced back with a shootout win in Washington, ensuring at least a split of the two-game set.

The Penguins are always a tough task. Under Mike Sullivan, they’ve become a strong defensive team that sucks the life out of opponents. It’s not what you’d expect out of a roster that still features a ton of generational (though aging) talent. The Penguins have great depth, even without the injured Zack Aston-Reese and the newly acquired Kasperi Kapanen, who is out due to Covid-19 health and safety protocols. Still, if the Rangers contain Crosby, Malkin and LeTang, they have a good chance to get out of Pittsburgh with points.

Prediction: The Rangers were a very strong road team last season, and they tend to rise to the challenge in their games against the Penguins. An impressive 5-3 victory will kick off the weekend – and will feature the first NHL goal for Alexis Lafreniere. Unfortunately it’s a little unrealistic to expect these young Rangers to sweep a back-to-back in Pittsburgh. The veteran Penguins will tighten up and beat the Rangers 4-1 on Sunday. 

Leave your thoughts on the Rangers preview this week in the comments below.

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  • The Island____’s were under estimated in the first game, then they under estimated the RANGERS IN THE SECOND GAME.
    Lets see how Dairy Queen prepares them for the game.
    Mr Dairy Queen, we should hold you accountable for the first game debacle. Shouldn’t Delgado get the same opportunity you got to show how he adjusts.

    • Give us a break with your outrage and sad name calling, we had a long 312 days between games, we have the youngest roster, and no pre-season games for the kids to see what the NHL is really like.

      The biggest culprit in game 1 that sucked the oxygen out of the room was the opening Jack Johnson boneheaded penalty, if the Rangers just make the playoffs that would go against most predictions for the Rangers. Try to enjoy the hockey during this very shortened season

      If we have some nice streaks in between flops we will have a fun season to watch.

      • I see that the name calling out rages you! You get blinded by the names and therefore what was said is irrelevant. You get called for retaliation. 2 min in the box for you. Let the officials call the penalty.
        See my name. I was called a name and I now use it as a badge of honor.
        Too bad there isn’t timeout or a dog house, a taxi squad where the coach could benched for a couple of games for bad calls and decision making.
        Knuckle down on that.

    • First, if you’re going to blame the coach for the first loss, then you have to give him credit for the second win. Second, who is Delgado?

        • If there was any blame, it would be for his overreaction and benching of one of his best players for actually caring.

          • So his “over reaction resulted in a 5-0 win. So if he “mid reacted” would you have expected a 7-0 win?

            How you can honestly argue that the win had nothing to do with any of his changes is beyond me.

            But hey if you’re just trolling and looking for a reaction from people then I applaud you. Well done.

            I guess you will be the 2021 version of Ricky Rants or Frank Cerbone. Every season needs one of those and this year I guess it’s you!

  • it is so good to have hockey back. im going to enjoy this seasons ups and downs. like to see them crush cry baby crosby.
    LGR

  • It really sucks that there are no fans.

    But the teams playing in Florida would not know the difference anyway.

  • Comparing Hughes to Kakko… Jack is playing top line center with 22min TOI, not changing linemates every game and limited TOI in Quinn’ dog house

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