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Rangers Notes: Skapski Starts, Hunwick in for Klein, Glass Likely Stays in

Some news and notes on the lineup, the division, and the conference

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

There are a few bits of Rangers news and notes to touch on this Saturday morning before the Rangers turn their focus to wrapping up their road trip tonight in Buffalo.

With Kevin Klein on the shelf for as long as a month, the Rangers will dress Matt Hunwick to fill in on on the blue line. Tonight will be Hunwick's forty-first game dressing for the Rangers and it will be the first time he has been back on the ice for a game since the Blueshirts acquired Keith Yandle on deadline day. There was some talk and speculation about Mike Kostka coming in and replacing the right-handed shot of Klein, but it appears that the coaching staff is going to go with the player that they have seen more of and have more trust in.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>VIDEO: Matt Hunwick goes back in <a href="">#NYR</a> lineup, but first goes one-on-one with <a href="">@JimCerny</a>:   <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; New York Rangers (@NYRangers) <a href="">March 13, 2015</a></blockquote>
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As exciting as Kevin Klein's offensive outburst has been this season, and as popular as he may be with Rangers fans, the drop-off from Klein to Hunwick is, in the world of metrics, more or less negligible. However, the imbalance in the handedness on the Rangers' back line could be something that vexes the team a bit moving forward. Truth be told, I'm not terribly concerned. In fact, this shake-up in the blueliners presents the Rangers with an opportunity to move some bodies around and try some different defensive pairings. A top pair of Ryan McDonagh and Keith Yandle, anyone? Why the heck not.

Mackenzie Skapski, the Rangers' 20 year old rookie netminder who was taken in the 6th round of the 2013 NHL Draft, will get the second start of his NHL career tonight against the Buffalo Sabres. Skapski last played on February 20th in a tilt against the Sabres. After allowing a goal to Matt Moulson in the first 14 seconds of the game, Skapski managed to blank the Sabres the rest of the way and earn a 3-1 victory. The Rangers will go with Skapper tonight and then give Cam Talbot the start tomorrow at MSG when the Rangers host the Florida Panthers. Cam Talbot has, without a doubt, earned a rest considering how outstanding he has been and the Rangers can play Skapski tonight and still feel confident about their ability to pick up two points.

In yesterday's practice the Rangers rolled the same lines that won them the game against the Capitals, which means we should expect Tanner Glass to remain in in the lineup. James Sheppard, who the Rangers acquired for a 4th round pick on deadline day, has played just 2 games with the Blueshirts. As we have all discussed countless times, the dry erase board that lists the reasons to play Glass in the lineup is completely naked of markings and, in all likelihood, has no dry erase markers anywhere near it. I can't imagine what it will take at this point for the Rangers to bench Glass in favor of Sheppard again, but I hope we get another look at the guy who is just as big as Glass, a much stronger skater, and is, according to the human eye and all the tools we have to measure the proficiency of hockey players, the better player.

Last night the Islanders and Capitals both fell in regulation. Before the puck drops tonight in Buffalo, the Rangers have four games in hand over the Islanders and a one point lead over them for the top spot in the Metropolitan. The Rangers are also currently tied with the Montreal Canadiens for the top spot in the Eastern Conference while having two games in hand over the Habs. The Penguins, who have been rolling lately, are 7-2-1 in their last ten games and are now just three points behind the Blueshirts in the standings, they play the Bruins at 1:00 PM today and have played only one more game than the Rangers. The war for supremacy in the Metropolitan and the East is still raging despite the recent dominating play of the Rangers. It's already starting to feel a little bit like playoff hockey, isn't it?

Oh, and one more thing:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Rangers (14) and Blues (15) with the lowest magic numbers to clinch a playoff spot right now.</p>&mdash; Evan Sporer (@ev_sporer) <a href="">March 14, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Thoughts? Let's go Rangers.