Banter Preview: Rangers head to Ohio

The Rangers look to get back into the win column against the Blue Jackets

In the wake of a sobering defeat at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens, the New York Rangers are back in action tonight in Ohio to play the Columbus Blue Jackets. After tonight’s game, the Blueshirts play just once over the next six days — against the Boston Bruins on the 19th — so even though they may have some tired legs this is a game they should be playing with the pedal to the metal. And, because it’s Columbus, this is also a game the Rangers should win.

  • Blue Jackets record: 13-27-2 (all in for Bedard)
  • Blue Jackets last 10: 3-7-0
  • Blue Jackets GF/GP: 2.57 (29th)
  • Blue Jackets GA/GP: 3.95 (31st)
  • Last time around: 5-1, Blue Jackets win on Oct. 23
  • NHL teams with artillery in their building: 1/

All eyes will be on Jonny Gaudreau in this one because he’s the best player on the home team. Gaudreau has 41 points in 42 GP this season and Columbus’ next top-scorer has 22 points. That distressing fact is heavily impacted by the Blue Jackets being haunted by injuries all season long, which is also why their highest-scoring d-man — Vladislav Gavrikov — has just 10 points. It’s been a long year in Columbus.

The Blue Jackets have the worst power play in the league (15.3%) and have the worst defense in the league if we’re measuring by the basic stuff like average goals against per-game. Their even-strength offense isn’t that much better than the power play and the big shot of Patrik Laine has 12 goals in 27 games this season. He and Gaudreau share the goal lead for the Blue Jackets, with Boone Jenner’s 11 goals not far behind.

As I said, it’s been a long year in Columbus.

You get the idea. This has all the makings of a trap game for the Rangers but it does look like Igor Shesterkin will be back between the pipes. That is likely because the schedule is pretty light for about a week after this but it is surprising that we aren’t seeing Jaroslav Halak against a very bad hockey team. Clearly, these are points that Gerard Gallant and company definitely don’t want to slip away after dropping a game to Montreal.

Enjoy tonight’s game.