Game Thread: Rangers at Panthers

The New York Rangers are back in action for the first time since Sunday to take on the Florida Panthers in their third meeting of the season. The 13-12-3 Rangers, who are just out of a playoff spot with 29 points, are 2-0 against the 11-11-5 Florida Panthers. Tonight’s their first matchup of the season in Florida

If yesterday’s practice was an indication of tonight’s lines, we’ll see:

Chris Kreider – Mika Zibanejad – Kevin Hayes

Jimmy Vesey – Ryan Strome – Filip Chytil

Vlad Namestnikov – Brett Howden – Jesper Fast

Steven Fogarty – Lias Andersson – Matt Beleskey

Marc Staal – Neal Pionk

Brady Skjei – Tony DeAngelo

Fredrik Claesson – Kevin Shattenkirk

Henrik Lundqvist

Dustin Tokarski

The most notable change is Kevin Hayes shifting to right wing, his natural position. But rather than just flip him with his frequent winger, Filip Chytil, he’s moving up to the first line which makes the lineup a bit top-heavy. Chytil is set to stay at wing, while Ryan Strome moves up. Also, Matt Beleskey who was sent down this week to get time in with Hartford, is back up with the Rangers to play tonight.

The Rangers recalled Cole Schneider earlier today. He’ll dress if Vlad Namestnikov isn’t ready to return from a concussion.

The defensive pairs haven’t changed much. Brendan Smith, who suffered an upper body injury and skated in practice in a non-contact jersey earlier this week, looks to be the odd man out tonight.