Your story lines for tonight's New York Rangers season opener in the Windy City include Kevin Hayes playing right wing on the second line with Stepan and Kreider, Emerson Etem and Tanner Glass scratched, and Oscar Lindberg at center ice on the third line. We should also keep our eyes peeled for which Rangers forwards appear on the ice for special teams play. Will wee see a lot of Stoll and Stalberg on the ice when the Rangers are shorthanded? How much will the Rangers have Keith Yandle, a power play specialist, on the ice during the man advantage? A full season of a healthy Keith Yandle is a huge boon to the Rangers' 2015-16 roster that is looking to repeat on a Presidents' Trophy-winning 2014-15 regular season campaign.
It's fantastic to see Oscar Lindberg in a featured role on the Rangers' checking line with Stalberg and Miller on his wings. I expect we'll be seeing a lot of Oscar on the penalty kill after what he showed us in the preseason. Tonight's game will likely be a test of the Rangers' depth against the significant firepower featured in the Blackhawks' top two lines.
Here are the Rangers' lines and defensive pairings from their morning skate as per Andrew Gross' Rangers Rants.
Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Kevin Hayes
J.T. Miller-Oscar Lindberg-Viktor Stalberg
Dominic Moore-Jarret Stoll-Jesper Fast
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Dan Boyle
Keith Yandle-Kevin Klein
Also from Gross, here are Chicago's forward lines from their morning skate:
Teuvo Teravainen-Jonathan Toews-Marian Hossa
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell-Andrew Shaw-Kyle Baun
Andrew Desjardins-Marcus Kruger-Ryan Garbutt
Gone from the Blackhawks roster are Patrick Sharp, Brad Richards, Brandon Saad, and Kris Versteeg. The 'Hawks are going to depend on young players like Teravainen and former Ranger Artem Anisimov to make a big impact for their club this season in their quest to win another Cup and leave some bruises and shattered egos in the Central Division of the Western Conference. The Blackhawks will have a lot of off-the-distractions to deal with tonight including the Patrick Kane investigation and the banner raising tonight.
The starting goaltenders tonight, as expected, will be Henrik Lundqvist and Corey Crawford. Lundqvist is 5-1-2 against the Blackhawks in his career and has put up some incredible numbers against the Blackhawks with a GAA of 1.98 and a SV% of .934. Apparently Hank owns the Blackhawks, who knew?
- Kevin Weekes' Weekes on the Web for tonight's game.
- Blue Seat Blogs- Three to Watch
- I'm Sick of Being Close
- Odds Stacked Against the 'Hawks
- Second City Hockey
The puck drops at 8:00 PM EST. After the Rangers' game against the Blackhawks tonight they'll play the Columbus Blue Jackets on the road on Friday at 7:00 PM EST. Their home opener is this Saturday at MSG against the Blue Jackets in the second game of a back-to-back against Ohio's NHL team. I expect that we might see Antti Raanta make his Rangers' debut Friday night, unless Lundqvist is hellbent on seeing starts on both Friday and Saturday night.
Thoughts on the lines and pairings? Thanks for reading. Let's go Rangers.