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Banter Preview: Rangers host Oilers

Edmonton comes to New York

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The New York Rangers are back home with stomachs full of turkey and cranberry sauce but they’ve still managed to lose some weight — by trading away Ryan Reaves. Today, the Blueshirts host the ceaseless disaster that is the Edmonton Oilers hockey club for a 1 p.m. ET Saturday showdown.

For those of you who think the Rangers are underachieving this year, it might comfort you to know that things could be worse. You could be an Oilers fan.

  • Oilers’ record: 10-10-0
  • Oilers' last 10 games: 3-7-0
  • Oilers’ GA/GP: 3.6 (29th in the league)
  • Connor McDavid goals: 16
  • McDavid smiles: 3.5, tops. Seriously, I’m worried.

It’s been a frustrating season for the Oilers. They lost Evander Kane to a terrifying wrist injury and are currently 5th in the Pacific Division with a .500 record after 20 games. McDavid has been McDavid and Leon Draisaitl is still great but the question about what the rest of this group brings to the table persists. With Kane out, if it’s not McDavid, Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, or Zach Hyman scoring it seems like no one is scoring. So, place your bets now on a fourth-liner you’ve never heard of before having a two-goal game at MSG.

The Oilers were hoping that former Maple Leaf Jack Campbell would turn around their goaltending woes and they were wrong in a big, bad way. The Oilers’ have the third-worst goals against per game (GA/GP) and Campbell has an .876 Sv% and a record of 6-5-0. That’s brutal. Stuart Skinner, the Oilers’ other netminder, has a .921 Sv% and is 4-5-0. Campbell, 30, is in the first year of a $5 million contract. Oh boy.

For the Rangers, shutting down McDavid isn’t a guaranteed path to victory but would certainly go a long way. This is a game where discipline will be key because Edmonton has a lethal power play and McDavid has picked up 17 of his 35 points on the advantage. That’s half his scoring — well, just about half his scoring. Look, you get the idea.

The Rangers’ long November road trip is behind them. Now it’s time for this club to get into gear and start climbing the standings with some wins because they, too, are currently in 5th place in their division. This 3-1-1 record over the last five games is encouraging, but this team still isn’t playing up to its potential, which is why we see things like 3-2 regulation losses to the Anaheim Ducks.

The Rangers will be back in action at the Garden on Monday for a must-watch game against the apparently unstoppable New Jersey Devils. That game starts at 7 p.m. ET and marks the first game of the season series between the Rangers and Devils. The Rangers will play the Oilers again on Feb. 17 in Edmonton.