The last time the Dallas Stars and New York Rangers met, it appeared that the two teams were headed in very different directions. For the Stars, that was skyrocketing up the Central Division standings on their way to nearly tying atop the division before their recent stretch of play. For the Rangers, that appeared to be a dive down towards the bottom of the standings and a lottery pick.
Now, the Rangers find themselves just three points behind the Carolina Hurricanes for the last Wild Card position. while Dallas has backslid enough to start worrying about the teams charging at them in the rearview mirror.
That turn of tide is likely why the Rangers are going with Igor Shesterkin in net tonight. With a desperation to get points, the young goalie has turned in phenomenal outings for the team. Prior to getting into a car accident on February 23rd and then being forced to miss two weeks due to a broken rib, Shesterkin had posted a 9-1-0 record in his 10 starts with a 2.23 goals against average and a .940 points percentage.
Then, in his return to game play, he allowed five goals and was pulled out of the game in the Rangers’ eventual 6-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. Still, Shesterkin likely represents the best chance for the Rangers to get the points they need on this road trip to stay in the mix for a Wild Card spot.
While the Rangers hope to get Shesterkin right in tonight’s start, keep an eye on Artemi Panarin. The stud forward has been making a case to be in the Hart Trophy (team MVP) award for the season, as he has posted 32 goals and 61 assists this season thus far. He’s 5th in the NHL in points, and leads the next highest player on his team by nearly 20 points. However, he’s currently riding a six game goal-less streak, so undoubtedly he’ll be a focus for the Stars defensive efforts.
Meanwhile, the Stars themselves are on a two-plus game goal-less streak as a 23-man roster. It’ll likely be another tight defensive effort by the Stars, but they’ve got to find a way to get some goal scoring going again. Though they don’t need the points to the extent that the Rangers do, the Stars do need to end their five game win-less streak.
Hopefully the recent stretch of play gives them the Stars the motivation and intensity to match the way you would expect the Rangers to come out of the gates. It’s another playoff-esque environment tonight, and the Rangers will be ready to go. Dallas needs to be as well.
Jamie Benn - Tyler Seguin - Corey Perry
Denis Gurianov - Roope Hintz - Joe Pavelski
Andrew Cogliano - Justin Dowling - Mattias Janmark
Jason Dickinson - Radek Faksa - Blake Comeau
Esa Lindell - John Klingberg
Miro Heiskanen - Stephen Johns
Jamie Oleksiak - Andrej Sekera
Ben Bishop in net. Roman Polak and Taylor Fedun are the expected healthy scratches. Alexander Radulov is likely to miss his second straight game due to illness.
NEW YORK RANGERS
Phil Di Giuseppe - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich
Artemi Panarin - Ryan Strome - Jesper Fast
Brett Howden - Filip Chytil - Julien Gauthier
Brendan Lemieux - Gregg McKegg - Kappo Kakko
Ryan Lindgren - Adam Fox
Brendan Smith - Jacob Trouba
Marc Staal - Anthony DeAngelo
Igor Shesterkin gets the start.