After managing to hold on against Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks on Wednesday night the Rangers will be on the road again tonight in Columbus against the young and dangerous Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets' biggest move of the offseason was landing Brandon Saad in a deal that sent Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano to Chicago. Saad will likely pair up with Ryan Johansen to give goalies around the league, especially in the Metropolitan Division, a lot of headaches this season. He will be a player that the Rangers have to shut down tonight.
The Blue Jackets recently announced that former Ranger Brandon Dubinsky and Boone Jenner will be the club's alternate captains this season. Nick Foligno, the captain of the team, had a huge season playing with Johansen last year and will be the other forward on CBJ's top line that the Rangers' defense are going to have to work hard to shut down. If the Blue Jackets can stay healthy this season they will be a force to be reckoned with in the Metropolitan Divison. With Sergei Bobrovsky in net and some real firepower in their top six, Columbus looks like a very solid hockey team on paper. Some talking heads and analysts have them pegged as the team that will make the biggest step forward from where they finished at the end of last season which was 11th in the East with a record of 42-35-5.
The Blueshirts will be looking for a stronger performance from their top line tonight which registered 5 shots (4 from Rick Nash, none from Mats Zuccarello), was held scoreless, and surrendered a goal against Chicago at even strength on Wednesday night. It will be interesting to see if the Miller-Lindberg-Stalberg line has another dominant performance on the road. Miller picked up 2 assists and Lindberg scored the first goal of the game to help get the Rangers the win against the Blackhawks. Stalberg was all over the ice and looked outstanding on the rush and on the forecheck.
As per Andrew Gross, Henrik Lundqvist will get the nod in net tonight for the Rangers and he will also be starting on Saturday night for the Blueshirts' home opener at The Garden against Columbus. The Rangers next back-to-back games come on October 18th and 19th, which is likely when we'll see Antti Raanta make his Rangers' debut because the Blueshirts have only two games next week- at home against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday ,who just trounced the Bruins, and on the road against the Habs on Thursday.
Two games in two nights against the Blue Jackets will give us a very good idea of who the Blue Jackets are. The Rangers will face them again on February 29th at MSG after the home and home two game series that starts tonight at 7:00 PM EST.
There will be no morning skate for the Rangers today because they practiced yesterday.
Thanks for reading, enjoy tonight's game. Let's go Rangers.