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
At Rangers practice. Kevin Hayes has been at right wing all week. Today he's with LW Kreider and C Zibanejad. Lines: 20-93-13; 26-16-72; 90-21-17 and 38-50-39. Zuccarello and Buchnevich are extras, but Zucc is working in on second line, splitting reps with Vesey.— Colin Stephenson (@ColinASteph) December 7, 2018
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.
DQ, in pregame, said the @NYRangers called up Schneider to be insurance in case Vlad Namestnikov (who is coming off concussion protocol) has any issues. Schneider will warm up, DQ said. That likely means Mats Zuccarello is out tonight.— Colin Stephenson (@ColinASteph) December 8, 2018
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.