The New York Rangers end a four-game road trip this evening as they take on the Anaheim Ducks, and they will check in with some former friends for the second time this year. In October the Blueshirts handed the Ducks a 6-4 loss, and they’ll attempt to do the same tonight. The Rangers are in the second game of a back-to-back and will face a Ducks squad that has yet to win a game in regulation... which just seems like the most New York Rangers thing ever given their propensity of allowing significant firsts whether it be career goals, wins, etc.
The 5-13-1 Ducks are led by stars such as Troy Terry (7-13-20) and Trevor Zegras (8-8-16), but the squad features some familiar faces of note. First and foremost is Ryan Strome who is skating 17:54 a game thus far, and has a stat line of 5-6-11 in 19 games played. He’s shooting 16.1% for the Ducks as of this writing, and I imagine he’ll look to make the most of tonight considering he went pointless during October 17th’s loss.
Then there is Frank Vatrano, a player who served as a successful mercenary down the stretch of last season, who is off to a slower start than he’d probably like. Vatrano’s posted a line of 4-2-6 while averaging 17:33 a game, and one of his goals this season came at Madison Square Garden. He hasn’t scored in his last nine games and has just 2 points in his last 10 games played, so expect him to get on the scoresheet this evening.
Lastly is Kevin Shattenkirk, a player the Rangers are paying $1,433,333 this year not to play for them. Shattenkirk is the elder statesman of the Ducks’ defense corps and the oldest player on the team for that matter, and he’s seen better days. The New Rochelle native has just 5 assists in 15 games played, and is only averaging 16:57 a night.
In terms of other players of note worth watching, former future Ranger Cam Fowler (selected 2 picks after Dylan McIlrath at the 2010 NHL Draft) has been on a tear lately with a line of 2-5-7 in his last 5 games played. There’s also Mason McTavish, 3rd overall pick in 2021, who has a line of 2-7-9 in 19 games played. He doesn’t have as many points as he’d like, but he’s a really crafty player the Rangers shouldn’t sleep on. On the Rangers’ side, Adam Fox enters tonight with points in his last 9 games (4-10-14), and he will look to extend the streak to double digits tonight.
From a head to head perspective, the Rangers are averaging 3.05 goals per game (19th) to the Ducks’ 2.53 (31st), have allowed 2.70 goals per game (8th) to the Ducks’ 4.26 (31st), and are no match for them when comparing special teams. The Rangers have the 10th-best power play at 23.5%, and the 6th-best PK unit at 81.7%. Anaheim on the other hand has the league’s worst power play (13.2%) and PK unit (64.2%) so things could get interesting during moments of action not played 5v5.
The obvious wrinkle is who will be in goal, and with the Rangers not in action again until Saturday there’s always the possibility Igor Shesterkin is in net tonight. That would allow Jaroslav Halak to start vs. the Edmonton Oilers and would put Shesterkin in line for next Tuesday’s showdown at MSG vs. the New Jersey Devils..
In any case, the Rangers have a big opportunity to end the trip on a high note, and a 3-0-1 trip would be a great way to end off before Thanksgiving. The Metropolitan Division is pretty bunched up right now, and picking up another two points will go a long way to make life easier later on in the season.
Stats via NHL.com unless otherwise noted.