6PM: David Quinn said before the game (NYR):
- On the lineup, “Boo is going to play on the left wing with Howden and Smith.”
- Is Staal ready, “not yet, him and McKegg are in similar situations with lower body injuries that might take more time than you envision and after practice yesterday neither of them looked game ready just quite yet, but they are getting closer.”
- Are Staal and McKegg here, “yea, they skated this morning. We weren’t sure they would be able to play or not.”
- Could they go tomorrow, “they both skated today and we will see.”
3:50PM: Alex Georgiev will be in net for the Rangers as they take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight.
Tonight marks the first time that Artemi Panarin is returning to Columbus after he left the Blue Jackets as a free agent following last season.
The Rangers top-two lines for tonight are expected to start as:
- Brendan Lemieux, Mika Zibanejad, Kaapo Kakko
- Artemi Panarin, Ryan Strome, Chris Kreider
The Rangers bottom six will likely feature Filip Chytil, Pavel Buchnevich, Jesper Fast, Brett Howden, Brendan Smith and either Boo Nieves or Micheal Haley.
Greg McKegg could also return, likely in the Nieves/Haley spot, after missing the past five games with a lower-body injury.
Marc Staal is questionable for tonight’s game as he returns from an ankle procedure that has kept him out the past 12 games.
Kaapo Kakko is also replacing Ryan Strome on the Rangers top PP unit with Strome joining Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba, Filip Chytil and Brendan Lemieux.
Joonas Korpisalo is expected to start for Columbus and the Blue Jackets will also be without injured defenseman Zach Werenski.
Adam Rotter: The big focus will be on Panarin, and John Davidson’s, return to Columbus but the Rangers and Jackets are right next to each in the standings. The Rangers have one game in hand and three more points but the two teams had consistency issues as the Rangers develop all of their young players and Columbus tries to move forward without Panarin, Bobrovsky and Matt Duchene. The Rangers need to manage the puck better, cover for each other defensively and be ready to play in the first period. All three of those things were issues against Vegas and put the Rangers in a hole. The Rangers made changes to their lines but more importantly, swapped Kakko back onto the top PP unit. It’s an important back to back for the Rangers as they look to pick up points before heading out west.