Ryan McDonagh

Rangers bid farewell to ‘The Joe’ with win over Red Wings

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It’s getting awfully crowded among the powerhouses in the Metropolitan Division.

The New York Rangers easily handled the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, winning 4-1 at The Joe and moving them to the 90-point mark. They are one of four teams in that division to accomplish that, even with plenty of time remaining in the regular season schedule.

It’s now setting up a situation where the top-four teams in that division could be separated by just five points by the time the weekend is over. It depends on the outcome of the Washington Capitals-Anaheim Ducks game this evening, as Alex Ovechkin and company look to bust their losing skid.

With Henrik Lundqvist out two to three weeks because of injury, Antti Raanta stepped in and delivered a 23-save performance.

“I don’t try to be Hank, I just try to be myself,” Raanta told the New York Post. “I know that every time when I play, it’s always a big thing for me to show what I can do. That’s what I try to do right now.”

The Rangers regained the lead late in the second period on goals 37 seconds apart from Ryan McDonagh and Kevin Hayes.

Derek Stepan put it away late in the third period, making it 4-1. In the process, he snapped a 23-game scoring drought.

 

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.

Video: Zibanejad grabs another OT winner, Rangers slip by Lightning

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Injuries and inconsistency have made for a slightly disappointing first season for Mika Zibanejad with the New York Rangers, but there are flashes of the brilliance many expected.

He’s shown those game-breaking abilities in sudden death situations, in particular, lately.

Zibanejad ended up scoring the lone goal to decide the goalie duel between Andrei Vasilevskiy and Antti Raanta, giving the Rangers a 1-0 OT win. The Tampa Bay Lightning keep carving out points, but couldn’t get that key extra one thanks to this nice finish, set up by Ryan McDonagh:

Nice, right? For your click’s worth, Zibanejad scored this cheeky OT-winner against the Devils on Feb. 25:

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.