|NEW YORK RANGERS|
28–11–4 (60 points; .698%)
ROSTER / SCHEDULE
7:00 P.M. – THURSDAY, JANUARY 27
BALLY SPORTS OHIO
ESPN+ (Out of Market)
It can't get any worse than Wednesday, right?
Following one of the worst performances in club history, the Columbus Blue Jackets will look for answers when they face the New York Rangers in the second half of a back-to-back at Nationwide Arena.
Columbus allowed a franchise-worst (regular season) 62 shots in Wednesday's 6-0 loss to the Calgary Flames, but it (somehow) felt much worse. They appeared disinterested in large swaths of time Wednesday, and the final score proves it.
When the Blue Jackets and Rangers meet again Thursday, it will be the third and final meeting of the season between the two teams. New York won the first two games by a combined score of 9-3, connecting on three of five power play opportunities in the pair of games and getting 78 shots on goal between the two games. That's a lot, though may not seem like that when compared to Calgary's performance Wednesday.
|PACES & PROJECTIONS|
|46.8%||MONEYPUCK'S ODDS TO WIN||53.2%|
|44.0%||THE 538'S ODDS TO WIN||56.0%|
|79.2||EVOLVING HOCKEY'S POINT PROJ.||102.1|
|75.9||82-GAME POINT PACE||114.4|
RE: NY RANGERS
Winners of five of their last six, the Rangers are showing no signs of slowing down in a season in which they've been impressive from the get-go.
Goalie Igor Shesterkin is the primary catalyst behind the Rangers atop a fiercely tough Metro division. He has 20 wins in 25 starts, his .937 save percentage leads the league, his 2.07 goals against average is second (Carolina's Frederik Andersen is at 2.06). A deeper dive reveals even more impressive data: with an expected GAA of 3.00, the 0.93 gap between that and his actual GAA is 22% better than any other qualifying goalie. And with an expected save percentage of .922, his .015 difference is also better than any other qualifying netminder. If the Vezina Trophy voting were today, you'd be hard-pressed to argue against Shesterkin.
But it's not all goaltending in New York. Despite the Rangers averaging a middle-of-the-pack 3.00 goals per game, they've got several dangerous players up front. Chris Kreider's 30 goals leads the league, and the 30-year-old already is at a career-high in the category. Exactly half of his goals have come on the power play, where New York is converting at a 1:4 clip.
Kreider is one of four Rangers with 40 or more points on the season — for comparison, no Blue Jacket has hit 30 points yet. Defenseman Adam Fox (7g-39a-46p) leads the team in points, with former Blue Jacket Artemi Panarin (11g-34a-45p) not far behind, and crafty center Mika Zibanejad (15g-27p-42p) not far behind.
A final (and scary) thought: 2020's first overall pick, Alexis Lafreniere, and 2019's second overall pick, Kaapo Kakko, have combined for only 13 goals and 12 assists in 78 games. They're both just 20 years of age. If even one of them turn it up a notch this season, the Rangers could be amongst the most dangerous teams in the league this spring — and potentially for many years to come.
Despite years of futility early on (and some later than early on), Columbus' 62 shots allowed in Wednesday's loss was the most they've ever allowed in a regular season game. The distinctions are widespread, but this one takes the cake: Elvis Merzlikins made a career-high 56 saves and had a .903 save percentage in the game, and they lost by a half-dozen. Until Wednesday, no goalie had ever allowed six or more goals *and* had a .900+ sv% in the same game. Elvis deserves better.
GOD SPEED, JOONAS
Joonas Korpisalo will almost assuredly get the start Thursday, and the defense in front of him must find a way to be better. No goalie deserves a defensive effort like what the Blue Jackets put forth Wednesday.
Columbus has one power play goal at home since Thanksgiving. Repeat: Columbus has one power play goal at home since Thanksgiving. They're 1-for-23 in the 11 home games played since Turkey Day. The Blue Jackets only had one opportunity in Wednesday's loss, but the Rangers are 7th in the league in penalty minutes and Columbus had three man-advantage attempts in each of the two previous meetings against them.
|29||Patrik Laine||38||Boone Jenner||14||Gus Nyquist|
|16||Max Domi||34||Cole Sillinger||28||Oliver Bjorkstrand|
|93||Jakub Voracek||96||Jack Roslovic||42||Alexandre Texier|
|50||Eric Robinson||7||Sean Kuraly||59||Yegor Chinakhov|
|8||Zach Werenski||2||Andrew Peeke|
|22||Jake Bean||27||Adam Boqvist|
|46||Dean Kukan||44||Vladislav Gavrikov|
|70||Joonas Korpisalo||90||Elvis Merzlikins|
*SUBJECT TO CHANGE