The Rangers continued their mediocre play on Tuesday when they fell to the St. Louis Blues, 3-1. From the start of the first period, the Rangers defense could not escape the monotony of defensive collapses this season as Blues forward Carl Gunnarsson scored fifteen seconds into the game. Mika Zibanejad continued his hot streak tying the game at one at 2:22 of the first period with a power-play goal. Brayden Schenn scored a power play goal at 13:30 of the second period when Paul Carey took a slashing minor. The Blues added a goal at 1:47 of the third period when Jaden Schwartz shot the puck into the empty net off a feed from Vladimir Sobotka.
The Columbus Blue Jackets are 2-1-0 this season, most recently topping the Hurricanes 2-1 when Sonny Milano scored his third and fourth goals of the season including the overtime winner.
At times, the Rangers’ defense has been unstable. In four games, the Rangers have allowed their opponents to score an average of 3.75 goals a game. In an attempt to remedy this situation head coach Alain Vigneault has announced several roster changes for Friday’s tilt in Columbus. Rangers’ defenseman Brendan Smith will return after being scratched for two games. He’ll play on the right side of Brady Skjei. Marc Staal will play on the left of Kevin Shattenkirk while Nick Holden will be playing with captain Ryan McDonagh.
Keys to a Rangers’ victory:
- The Rangers’ defense must remain patient with the puck; they cannot force passes which lead to defensive turnovers. Throughout the course of this season, the Rangers have had 20 more giveaways than their opponents. Due to Columbus’ immensely deep forward group, the Rangers must be able to use all three defensive pairings without cringing and holding their breath while in our defensive zone.
- The Rangers’ power play has been one of the few positives of the season. The Rangers are ranked second in the NHL on the power play cranking at 66.7 percent on the road. The Rangers have scored more power play goals than even-strength goals, which is a concern within its own right; however, if the Rangers have difficulty scoring even-strength goals they must be able to capitalize on power play opportunities.
Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal for the Rangers while Sergei Bobrovsky will be across the ice for the Jackets.
New York Rangers: Jesper Fast
Columbus Blue Jackets: Boone Jenner