Kevin Hayes

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WATCH LIVE: Philadelphia Flyers vs. New York Rangers

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WATCH LIVE on NBC – 12 PM ET

PROJECTED LINES

Philadelphia Flyers

Forwards
Claude GirouxSean CouturierTravis Konecny
Jakub VoracekNolan PatrickWayne Simmonds
Michael RafflScott LaughtonJordan Weal
Jori LehteraValtteri FilppulaDale Weise

Defensemen
Ivan ProvorovShayne Gostisbehere
Robert HaggAndrew MacDonald
Brandon ManningRadko Gudas

Starting goalie: Michal Neuvirth

New York Rangers

Forwards
Rick NashMika ZibanejadMats Zuccarello
Michael GrabnerKevin HayesJ.T. Miller
Jimmy VeseyDavid DesharnaisJesper Fast
Paul CareyPeter HollandPavel Buchnevich

Defensemen
Brady Skjei – Neal Pionk
Nick HoldenAnthony DeAngelo
John Gilmour – Ryan Sproul

Starting goalie: Henrik Lundqvist

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang.

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

WATCH LIVE: Boston Bruins at New York Rangers

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NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 NHL season continues with Wednesday Night Rivalry as the New York Rangers play host to the Boston Bruins at 8 p.m. ET.

[Click here for the Live Stream]

Projected Lineups and starting goalies

Boston Bruins
Brad MarchandPatrice BergeronDavid Pastrnak
Jake DeBruskDavid KrejciRyan Spooner
Danton HeinenRiley NashDavid Backes
Tim SchallerSean Kuraly – Austin Czarnik

Zdeno CharaCharlie McAvoy
Torey KrugBrandon Carlo
Matt GrzelcykAdam McQuaid

Starting goalie: Anton Khudobin

[NHL on NBCSN: Bruins, Rangers heading in opposite directions]

New York Rangers
Rick NashMika ZibanejadMats Zuccarello
J.T. MillerDavid DesharnaisVinni Lettieri
Michael GrabnerKevin HayesJesper Fast
Cody McLeod – Peter HollandPaul Carey

Ryan McDonaghTony DeAngelo
Brady SkjeiNick Holden
Brendan SmithSteve Kampfer

Starting goalie: Henrik Lundqvist

Rangers in danger of slipping out of playoff race

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At this rate, the New York Rangers might not even need to debate their possible fate as trade deadline sellers.

Tuesday presented the latest dispiriting loss for the Rangers as they fell 6-3 to the Anaheim Ducks despite generating a 44-31 shots on goal advantage. NHL.com’s Lisa Dillman collected some morose quotes from Henrik Lundqvist – who certainly had a tough night – but Mats Zuccarello most succinctly captured the mood and discomfort.

“It’s hard to be positive in times like this but nothing is going to help by thinking negative,” Zuccarello said. “I think we’ve got to take a lot from this game. A lot of guys stepped up, a lot of guys played good. But we gave up too many easy goals and you’re not going to win hockey games like that.”

Lundqvist didn’t make it through the first period (16:21) before making way for Ondrej Pavelec, but that wasn’t the only telltale sign of struggles for the Rangers.

Alain Vigneault said he “saw enough” after J.T. Miller made a turnover, gluing the young forward to the bench. One can understand sending messages, yet Miller’s been a key scorer for a team that needs any boost it can get.

This was the play in question: Ryan Getzlaf picked off Miller’s pass, leading to Adam Henrique‘s breakaway goal.

No one likes mistakes, but such decisions revved up the latest round of “Fire AV” talks from Rangers fans, who frequently cringe at lineup choices involving younger players such as Pavel Buchnevich.

Trouble ahead

So far, the Rangers have lost the first three games of their road trip (combined score: 13-6) and close the stretch off with a Thursday date against the Sharks in San Jose before getting what might be a much-needed All-Star break.

While this current road trip is nearing an end, the Rangers are going to pay for their home-heavy start to 2017-18 with what could be a blistering month-plus of challenges beginning in February. From Thursday’s game in San Jose to a March 10 contest in Florida against the Panthers, the Rangers play seven games at home versus 13 on the road.

They already trail the Capitals, Devils, Flyers, Penguins, and Blue Jackets at the moment, with very little separation from the Islanders in the Metro races. Such a stretch could really douse any momentum the Rangers have toward making a playoff spot, a possible reality that management seems aware of, as rumors swirl that they’re considering being trade deadline sellers.

And really, a big fall might just convince the Rangers to “pull off the Band-Aid” and retool.

Selling points

You could argue they already dipped their toes in the water by trading away Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta for futures.

Yes, such moves opened up room to sign Kevin Shattenkirk, but the Rangers generally got younger, and there are opportunities to do more of that. Consider some of the trade chips the Rangers boast:

After dealing with some truly puzzling puck luck for much of 2017-18, the goals are really starting to come for Nash. He scored two goals against the Ducks, representing his third multi-goal output in his last five games (six goals, one assist).

Nash has his critics, but he could be a scary weapon if asked to be more of a secondary scoring option after years of being asked to carry much of the offensive burden for the Rangers and previously the Blue Jackets.

  • Would the Rangers part ways with a young, pending RFA like Miller or Kevin Hayes?
  • Also, there are some guys with expiring deals in 2018-19 who would maybe stand as too bold to move, but could fetch quite the price. Zuccarello and Ryan McDonagh are justifiably beloved by much of the fanbase, yet their affordable contracts could make them highly desirable. McDonagh is 28 and Zucc is already 30, so if it’s rebuild time, those guys might be beyond their primes by the time a rebound is complete.

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Moving Grabner and Nash makes the most sense, but the Rangers have to do some serious soul-searching.

At least they’ve seen this coming, and the next few weeks could very well provide that final push to sell mode.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Penguins overwhelm Rangers, and do so in regulation

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Both the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins can attest that an 82-game season features plenty of twists and turns. Each team’s experienced ups and downs in 2017-18, and are likely to see more turbulence before the playoffs begin.

So, it’s important not to overreact to one game, or even a couple weeks of play.

That said, the Penguins and Rangers continued to go down different paths as Pittsburgh handily won 5-2 on Sunday.

The Penguins might just be getting it together, as this represents their fourth consecutive win. Getting this victory in regulation is especially helpful for their cause, as the Rangers now trail them by two standings points but hold two games in hand.

[A deep dive on what’s next for Rangers and Penguins, and how close their races are.]

Meanwhile, the Rangers dropped their third game in a row and seemed to struggle with the likes of Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Hayes on the shelf.

Heading into the first period, both teams were tied in shots on goal with 13, and the Rangers actually generated a 2-1 lead. The Penguins exerted their will from that point on, generating a 34-15 SOG advantage and scoring four goals to win 5-2.

In the second period, two players scored milestone goals 1:15 apart. Phil Kessel generated the 700th point of his already-impressive career, while Dominik Simon collected his first NHL goal.

[More on that here, including Kessel’s place among the best scorers.]

Sidney Crosby scored his 17th goal of 2017-18, pushing him one goal away from 400 in the regular season. Henrik Lundqvist did what he could on Sunday, but the Penguins simply wouldn’t be denied.

The Rangers and Penguins both have a long way to go, even as both teams are technically in the two wild card spots as of this writing. For all we know, this win could be very helpful for Pittsburgh in a rugged battle for positioning in the Metropolitan Division.

Also, some good news for Pens

Tristan Jarry provided the Penguins with nice play recently, but this is still great news for Pittsburgh:

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Rangers’ depth on display early in 2018 Winter Classic

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Scoring depth has been an advantage for the New York Rangers during the last couple of seasons, and that’s something that surfaced during the first period of the 2018 Winter Classic against the Buffalo Sabres.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

For one thing, Paul Carey continued to make more of a mark for this offense.

After scoring just one goal in 13 games between October and November, Carey was really starting to make more of an impact for the Rangers in December, scoring seven points in 13 games that month. He carried that momentum into the new year, making it 1-0 about four minutes into the contest:

The fancier highlight came on the 2-0 goal, as Kevin Hayes squeezed a pass into a small window by Robin Lehner to set up Michael Grabner, who’s already at 18 goals on the season:

The speedy Grabner is really on a “Cy Young” pace so far: as of this writing, he has 18 goals versus three assists (18-3, if you will). While Grabner now has more goals (149) than assists (85) in his career, this season is putting that imbalance to an extreme.

Either way, depth continues to be a factor in the Rangers’ favor. They came into the 2018 Winter Classic with 14 players with 13+ points on the season, and Carey is one point away from being the 15th Ranger to hit double digits.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.