Few hockey experts expected the rebuilding New York Rangers to carry their hot start throughout the full 82-game regular season — but the Broadway Blueshirts have proven them wrong.
With a playoff spot clinched and the Metropolitan Division title still very much up within reach, the Rangers are indeed poised to finish the regular season strong with six games to go.
In the previous 10 games, the Rangers have gone 7-2-1, while averaging 3.2 goals, 5.6 assists, 3.1 penalties and 7.3 penalty minutes. They’ve also given up 1.7 goals per game with a .929 save percentage during that stretch.
Their latest triumph came Saturday night in a 4-0 shutout of the Detroit Red Wings, with star goalie Igor Shesterkin earning the victory in the net for New York after recording 20 saves.
Entering play Monday, the Rangers were tied with the Carolina Hurricanes atop the Metropolitan Division with 104 points — with both teams set to meet each other next week in a game that could very well decide the division championship. The Rangers have to finish the season with one point more than the Hurricanes to win the Metropolitan Division crown; if they finished tied, Carolina holds the tiebreaker over them.
For now, the Blueshirts hope to keep the winning ways going Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden when the Winnipeg Jets come to town.
The Rangers are 25-8-4 at home, which is good for fourth in the Eastern Conference, as they are recording 8.2 points per game, while averaging 3.0 goals and 5.2 assists.
The Jets are 16-15-8 in road games, with Winnipeg placing 17th in the Western Conference, while shooting 32.2 shots per game and averaging 3.1 goals each contest.
New York took down Winnipeg 4-1 in the last meeting between the teams on March 6, behind Chris Kreider, who scored two goals for the Rangers in the victory.
Kreider leads the Rangers with 50 goals, adding 22 assists and collecting 72 points. Artemi Panarin has five goals and 10 assists over the last 10 games for New York.
Kyle Connor leads the Jets with 44 total assists and has 87 points. Nikolaj Ehlers has 14 points over the last 10 games for Winnipeg.
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Meanwhile, the Jets are 4-5-1 in their last 10, while averaging 2.7 goals, 4.9 assists, 3.5 penalties and 9.7 penalty minutes. They’ve also allowed 3.7 goals per game with an .895 save percentage.
As for injuries, the Rangers will be missing Kaapo Kakko, who is day to day with a lower-body injury, while also missing Tyler Motte, who is out with upper body problems.
Through 76 games played, the Rangers have clinched the playoffs, and sit in a statistical tie with the Hurricanes at 104 points, with Carolina holding the tiebreaker over New York.
With AP reports