Marc Staal

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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.

 

NHL on NBCSN: Rangers look to end six-game home losing streak against desperate Isles

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2016-17 campaign tonight when the New York Rangers host the New York Islanders at 8:00 p.m. ET. If you want to watch the game online, you can do so here.

The Rangers aren’t in any danger of missing the playoffs, but their recent mediocre stretch has nearly pushed them out of contention for one of the top three spots in the Metropolitan Division.

While they dropped a 3-2 OT decision to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday (they never held the lead), both the Penguins and Capitals won.

They’ll almost certainly finish in the top Wild Card spot, which means they’ll face the Atlantic Division winner in the opening round. In that respect, they’ll likely get a more favorable matchup, but every team wants to finish as high as possible.

Goalie Henrik Lundqvist has missed the last six games because of a hip injury. Antti Raanta has had some good moments during Lundqvist’s absence, but the Rangers have gone just 2-3-1. They’ve also given up three goals or more in four of those six contests.

The Rangers have also been in a funk at home, as they’ve dropped six straight games at Madison Square Garden. Their last victory there came on Feb. 19 against Washington. They’re just 19-15-3 at MSG this season. Thankfully for them, they have the best road record in the NHL at 26-9-1.

“We’ve got to win a couple there and get the feeling of it in our building,” said defenseman Marc Staal, per the New York Post. “On the road, we find ways to win. We have to bring that mentality into our games at home. We got away from that at some point and we’ve got to get back to it.”

As for the Islanders, they did a good job surviving that nine-game road trip that ended Mar. 11, but they’ve hit a bit of a rough patch since then. In the four games they’ve played since the trip ended, the Isles have gone 1-2-1.

On a positive note, they should be pretty fresh coming into this game. The Islanders haven’t played since losing a 3-2 OT decision to the Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

With 11 games remaining, they find themselves three points behind Toronto for the last Wild Card spot in the East. Both teams have played the same number of games and have the same number of victories in regulation/overtime.

“It should be a good atmosphere, probably a good game for us to have, too — to get that emotion going that we’ll need to play with the rest of the way here,” forward Andrew Ladd said, per Newsday.

The Islanders will probably be doing a lot of scoreboard watching, as the Maple Leafs take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Hurricanes’ Zykov looked like a veteran on his first goal (Video)

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In his first NHL game, Valentin Zykov scored the kind of goal you’d expect from a rugged, experience player.

Zykov joined the Carolina Hurricanes organization in February 2016 as part of the trade that sent Kris Versteeg to the Los Angeles Kings. (This post’s main image comes from the 2013 NHL Draft, when Los Angeles selected him 37th overall.)

One neat bonus twist: Jordan Staal assisted on the goal, while Zykov muscled Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh to make the play happen. A family affair, everyone.

The Hurricanes’ Twitter feed did well here:

As tough as that moment was for Rangers defenders, Kevin Hayes suffered a more direct sort of pain tonight:

Yow.

Carolina ended up winning the game 4-3 in regulation.

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.

Rich get richer: Letang returns for Penguins, Carlson back for Capitals

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Chalk it up to getting a little extra time off thanks to the All-Star break or (most likely) just a coincidence, but two East contenders are getting a key defenseman back apiece on Tuesday.

In the case of the Pittsburgh Penguins, blueliner Kris Letang returns to the lineup as Pittsburgh faces the Nashville Predators. Letang last played on Jan. 14. The Penguins ended up winning 4-2.

The remarkably healthy Washington Capitals get even healthier with John Carlson back in the mix as the Caps visit the suddenly hot New York Islanders in Brooklyn. Similar to Letang, Carlson’s most recent appearance came about two weeks ago (Jan. 15). Washington dropped a 3-2 loss to the Islanders.

As much as each Metropolitan power thrives off of their star forwards, these two defensemen are key motors in their own right, especially in the case of Letang (as there’s a pronounced drop-off between No. 58 and every other Penguins blueliner).

Oh, and speaking of Metro teams, a friendly reminder that Marc Staal is in for the New York Rangers as well: