Rangers enter key contest against Penguins with chance to extend streak to 8 games

Rangers enter key contest against Pittsburgh
New York Rangers right wing Kaapo Kakko shoots the puck on Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Arvid Soderblom (40) during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Sunday, Dec. 18, 2022, in Chicago. (AP Photo/David Banks)
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It took a little bit of time, but the Rangers and the entire Metropolitan division are back in the saddle as the best overall division in hockey. Six teams are separated by just six points in the standings with two teams on prolonged winning streaks.

One of those teams is the New York Rangers. Winners of their last seven, New York has used solid goaltending, improved offense, and physical defense to shut down some of the better teams over the last two weeks. 

It doesn’t get any tougher than this upcoming stretch though. 

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The Rangers are not just set to face off against the Pittsburgh Penguins Tuesday night, but the Islanders, Capitals, and Lightning all before the calendar shifts to January. 

Of course, it also doesn’t help when the Blueshirts are potentially going to be without one of their better players. Filip Chytil is still day-to-day with an upper-body injury after being hit in Sunday’s 7-1 win over Chicago. His injury breaks up the kid line once again after a dominating stretch of games where the group has combined for over 10 points in their last four contests. 

Chytil’s success is also well-established over the Penguins. In the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season, he may have only recorded two points in the total seven-game series but was a key cog in the Rangers’ playoff run. 

A win Tuesday night would be further evidence of New York’s midseason turnaround. An eight-game winning streak over the best the league has to offer would be a statement that the Rangers are prepared for another deep Cup run. 

It’s easier said than done though against a Penguins roster on the shoulders of winning 12 of their last 15 contests and jumping several teams in the race for the Metro division crown. With Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin again leading the charge for Pittsburgh, the Rangers top line defense of Ryan Lindgren and Adam Fox will have their hands full. 

For the Rangers to push their winning streak to eight, they’ll need to be more than enough in the Steel City. 

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