Dan Girardi

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Rangers sign KHL d-man Bereglazov

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New York added some defensive depth on Friday, agreeing to terms with Russian blueliner Alexei Bereglazov.

Bereglazov, 23, has spent the last few seasons with KHL club Metallurg Magnitogorsk, including a ’16-17 campaign in which he scored 19 points in 60 games. He led all d-men aged 24 or younger in assists, with 18.

Despite being passed over at the draft, Bereglazov had a good junior career, highlighted by capturing bronze for Russia at the 2014 World Juniors. He finished with two points in seven games in the tourney, playing alongside the likes of Andrei Vasilevskiy, Nikita Zadorov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Ivan Barbashev and his new Rangers teammate, Pavel Buchnevich.

It’ll be interesting to see where he fits in New York next season. The club has seven blueliners under contract — Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Kevin Klein, Nick Holden, Brady Skjei and Steve Kampfer — with Brendan Smith a pending UFA, and Adam Clendening a pending RFA.

 

Kreider won’t shy away from crashing crease vs. Price, Canadiens

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NEW YORK (AP) The New York Rangers don’t mind starting the Stanley Cup playoffs on the road.

After all, they led the NHL with 27 road wins in the regular season.

And the Rangers had 21 wins at Madison Square Garden this season, tied for the fewest home wins among the 16 teams that reached the postseason.

So playing the opening two games of their series at the Bell Centre in Montreal is not a big problem.

“Starting on the road here will give us a good chance to establish our playoff game,” Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi said. “Hopefully we’ll have good Games 1 and 2 and that’ll carry over to our barn for 3 and 4. I just think we’re worried about Game 1 and play that way throughout the whole playoffs.”

The teams last met in the playoffs in the 2014 Eastern Conference Final, best remembered for when Rangers forward Chris Kreider slid into Montreal goalie Carey Price and knocked him out for the series . The Rangers won the series in six games before losing to the Kings in the Stanley Cup Final.

Stream Rangers vs. Canadiens on NBC Sports

“My game hasn’t changed,” Kreider said. “For me to be effective, I need to go get to the crease. That’s where I’m going to score goals.”

Kreider, who led the Rangers with 28 goals in the regular season, expects to hear from the Canadiens fans.

“That’s one thing in particular that I remember is that rink being energetic and really emotional,” he said. “They’ve got an incredibly passionate fan base so it’s a fun place to play.”

Here are some other things to look for in the matchup between Original Six franchises beginning with Game 1 on Wednesday night:

SEASON SWEEP

The Canadiens swept all three meetings in the regular season. Price had a 2.27 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage in those matchups and is 15-5-1 with a 1.82 GAA and .940 save percentage in his career against the Rangers.

“They’ve had some success against us the last couple of years, but I think our focus is definitely what we did a couple of years ago in the playoffs,” Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist said.

“They’re a great team. They have a lot of speed, good structure, a great goaltender, so it’s a going to be a good test and a great challenge for us.”

KING HENRIK

Going into the playoffs, Lundqvist leads all active NHL goaltenders in playoff appearances (116) and playoff wins (55), and he is tied for first among active goaltenders in playoff shutouts (nine).

INJURIES

Max Pacioretty, who led the Canadiens with 35 goals in the regular season, left practice Tuesday after getting hit by a stick. Coach Claude Julien said Pacioretty is expected to play. Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin will miss Game 1 with an injury. Shea Weber and Jordie Benn are expected to play.

FRESH START

The Canadiens fired coach Michel Therrien during the season and brought back Julien for his second stint with Montreal. The Canadiens went 16-7-1 under Julien and won the Atlantic Division after missing the playoffs in 2015-16.

“Every year it’s tough to make the playoffs so when you have that opportunity, you want to take advantage of it,” Julien said.

“You want to stay even-keel. You want to get ready to play. We play tomorrow and we’ll deal with the next day afterward.”

SLOW FINISH

The Rangers finished the regular season 8-9-4 but welcome the chance of a fresh start. They have reached the playoffs for the seventh straight season.

“Everybody has a clean slate and a great opportunity in front of them to make a difference and an impact in the playoffs,” coach Alain Vigneault said.

“This is what we worked for the whole season and what every player and coach works for, to get an opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup. We’re one of the 16 teams that have that opportunity.”

For more NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey

Rangers make changes after loss in Anaheim

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The scuffling New York Rangers — coming off a 6-3 loss Sunday in Anaheim, and with just two wins in their last seven — are expected to have a slightly different lineup tonight in San Jose.

Up front, winger Matt Puempel is likely to replace rookie Pavel Buchnevich. And on the back end, Dan Girardi will come in for Kevin Klein.

The Girardi-for-Klein switch is no huge surprise. Both d-men have been battling injuries, with Klein only returning Sunday after an extended absence due to back spasms. Head coach Alain Vigneault told reporters that he “didn’t want to put two injured defensemen in at the same time,” so Klein gets the night off tonight.

As for the potential scratching of Buchnevich, that decision would be slightly more controversial. The 21-year-old has two goals and three assists in his last 11 games, but clearly has not gained the full trust of his coach.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in goal after a tough return to the net against the Ducks.

No Lundqvist, Nash or Grabner for banged-up Rangers tonight

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The Blueshirts are limping into this evening’s tilt with Carolina.

Starting netminder Henrik Lundqvist is sidelined with a lower-body injury. Leading goalscorer Michael Grabner will miss his fifth straight contest with a hip ailment. Alternate captain Rick Nash is out with a lingering upper-body issue.

So what sayeth you, J.T. Miller?

“People go down and people have to step into a different spot normally,” the Rangers’ leading scorer said, per the club website. “Just have to play like any other game.”

On their own, the losses are significant — but when piled on top of the guys New York was already without, it’s pretty overwhelming.

The Rangers were down the services of d-men Kevin Klein (back) and Dan Girardi (ankle), while versatile forward Jesper Fast is on the shelf with a separated shoulder.

As a result, head coach Alain Vingeault’s working with a patchwork lineup. The Chris KreiderDerek StepanMats Zuccarello line will remain intact, while Miller will jump to fill Nash’s spot alongside Pavel Buchnevich and Mika Zibanejad.

Matt Puempel, a healthy scratch recently, will draw back in and play alongside Jimmy Vesey and Kevin Hayes. That leaves Tanner Glass, Oscar Lindberg and Brandon Pirri on the fourth line.

On defense, it’ll be Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Brendan Smith, Nick Holden, Brady Skjei and Steve Kampfer.

Antti Raanta will get the start, while ECHL recall Brandon Halverson will back up.

NHL on NBCSN: Banged up Rangers look to take down red-hot Bruins

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the Boston Bruins host the New York Rangers at 7:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The Boston Bruins were quiet for most of deadline day, but they managed to make a last-minute deal to bolster their forward group by acquiring Drew Stafford from the Winnipeg Jets.

A few weeks ago, it looked like the Bruins would be sellers, but since they made a coaching change and went from Claude Julien to Bruce Cassidy, things have really turned around.

Under Cassidy, the Bruins play quick, aggressive and it doesn’t hurt that they’ve started putting the puck in the net with a lot more regularity.

“Bruce has been there all year this year,” said Patrice Bergeron, per the Boston Herald. “He was in the organization for nine years. So the system, there are a lot of similarities to it. The change has been pretty smooth so far and the biggest change so far is he wants us to play with more tempo, more speed and go up the ice in a hurry. The practices are maybe a little different in that way. It’s lots of energy and you’re always moving your legs, which is a good thing. You kind of duplicate that in games.”

Boston comes into tonight’s game having won three in a row and seven of their last 10 outings. The improved play has resulted in them jumping up to third place in the Atlantic Division standings. Their 72 points are tied with Ottawa, who’s in second place, but the Sens have reached that number in two less games. Both teams are six points behind Montreal for top spot.

The Rangers weren’t willing to pony up the assets it took to acquire Kevin Shattenkirk from St. Louis, but they still managed to come away with reliable defenseman Brendan Smith from Detroit.

Smith, who took part in Wednesday’s practice, found himself on the first pairing with Ryan McDonagh.

“I’m excited to be on a good team that’s in the playoff hunt,” Smith told the New York Post. “I love playoff hockey, so it’s an exciting time to come to a good team like this.”

New York took a physical pounding in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to the Capitals. Chris Kreider left that game for a few minutes, but managed to return. He didn’t take part in yesterday’s practice, but it sounds like he avoided a serious injury.

The news wasn’t as good for Jesper Fast, who was crushed by Alex Ovechkin. Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault expects him to be out two-to-three weeks with an upper-body injury.

Michael Grabner was forced to leave practice early after taking a cross-check from teammate Adam Clendening. Grabner’s availability for tonight’s game is in question.

On the blue line, Dan Girardi missed the game against Washington because of an ankle injury and he’s expected to miss two more weeks, while Kevin Klein (back spasms) is supposed to skate in Boston today.

Yea, the Rangers are pretty banged up, but they have to find a way to get back on track. They’ve dropped back-to-back home games to Columbus and Washington and were outscored 9-3 in the process.

The schedule won’t be too kind to them either, as they’ll play five of their next six games on the road.

A quick side note: Happy Birthday to the king, Henrik Lundqvist, who turns 35 today.