Game Eleven, the St. Louis Blues at the New York Rangers
Wow, John Moore getting suspended for five games certainly hurts a lot more right about now, doesn't it? The only time the Rangers got a puck past Ondrej Pavelec on Saturday night was Mats Zuccarello's shootout goal, but Blake Wheeler and Evander Kane both beat Lundqvist in the skills competition and handed the Rangers their first shootout and/or overtime loss of the season. Tonight the Rangers are back on home ice to play the St. Louis Blues who they beat on opening night but, obviously, this Rangers team looks more than a little bit different from the team that we saw on opening night.
This St. Louis team plays very low scoring, physical hockey. A big storyline in this game is how the Rangers blue line will hold up to the physical Blues and who will get the biggest slices from the ice time cake. I can't pretend I'm optimistic about tonight's game, but if the Rangers can play like they did Saturday night and finish, they should be able to head to Detroit on Wednesday with a record of 6-4-1.
The New York Rangers' November Schedule
Jets at Rangers, 7:00 PM 11/1(loss.)
Blues at Rangers, 7:00 PM 11/3
Red Wings at Rangers, 8:00 PM 11/5
Rangers at Maple Leafs, 7:00 PM 11/8
Oilers at Rangers, 6:00 PM 11/9
Penguins at Rangers, 7:00 PM 11/11
Avalanche at Rangers, 7:00 PM 11/13
Rangers at Penguins, 7:00 PM 11/15
Lightning at Rangers, 7:00 PM 11/17
Flyers at Rangers, 8:00 PM 11/19
Rangers at Sabres, 7:00 PM 11/21
Canadiens at Rangers, 7:00 PM 11/23
Rangers at Lightning, 7:30 PM 11/26
Rangers at Flyers, 1:00 PM 11/28
Flyers at Rangers, 1:00 PM 11/29
Mike's Player to Watch:... and everyone on the Rangers' blue line.
I thought Kevin Hayes looked amazing against the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night. Right now, it feels like Vigneault is rotating Duclair, Malone, and Hayes and going with whichever two he thinks will give the Rangers their best chance at two points. Hayes knows that he has to show that he is irreplaceable in the lineup with Derek Stepan scheduled to rejoin the team next weekend. Hayes will have a tough task ahead of him against the Blues and their physical centers, but he should be up to the task. Look for him to make an impact on tonight's game.
We all know that Dylan McIlrath and Conor Allen are in tonight for the Rangers. They'll be playing in front of Cam Talbot tonight against a very, very good Blues team. We're all going to be keeping a very close eye on what Allen and McIlrath look like against stiff NHL competition and how the team rallies to support Talbot in a very difficult start. Some huge names are out of the lineup for the Rangers. Here's hoping that the team manages to bend and adapt without breaking tonight. No Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein, or Dan Boyle on the back line tonight is a huge test of this team's defensive depth.
Let's go Rangers! Enjoy the game and the thread.