The New York Rangers face a crucial series against the Buffalo Sabres

artemi panarin, new york rangers
Mar 10, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) in action during the game between the Rangers and the Stars at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

It is definitely not the start that the New York Rangers were hoping for when the 2020-21 season started. After five games, the Blueshirts sit at just three points, in last place in the East Division, behind the Buffalo Sabres. Now the Rangers head to Buffalo for two games with the Sabres, which has made these games crucial to win some points during this 56 game sprint of a season.

The Sabres are coming home on a little bit of a high note, defeating the Washington Capitals 4-3 in a shootout. The Sabres also faced a tough schedule to start the season, Buffalo six straight games to open the season against Philadelphia and Washington, with four of them on the road.

The Rangers will also be without Filip Chytil, who collided with the Penguins Evan Rodrigues in the second period.  He appeared to have hurt his left arm but played another shift, before leaving for the night. It was later revealed that Chytil has returned to New York to be evaluated by team doctors and will not be available for Tuesday night’s game.

As the media was unable to view Monday’s practice, it was unclear how the Rangers would replace Chytil on his line. However, the leading candidates for this daunting task appear to be Brett Howden, Kevin Rooney, and Colin Blackwell. A tough task indeed as the third line of Phil Di Giuseppe, Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko has been the Rangers’ most consistent so far in this young season.

The other task that the Rangers must overcome is the ability to hold on to leads and get the win, something that head coach David Quinn addressed in his post-game Zoom conference Sunday night.

“Really, you’ve got to find ways to win,” Quinn said. “We can sit here and talk about some of the good things we did and the chances we had in the third period. But you’ve got to win hockey games.”

Artemi Panarin also addressed this issue after Monday’s practice when he told the media via Zoom that “each player on this team has to get better.”

Panarin also talked about how things were working with his linemates, Pavel Buchnevich and Ryan Strome. “At the beginning of the season, we did not have that much confidence. We have had many chances and to get many chances you have to be doing a lot of things right. And when the bad luck passes, we will be scoring 5 goals a game.”

The Rangers need to have all of this happen quickly because, after the two-game set in Buffalo, the Rangers return home to face the Penguins for two games. The same Penguins who they just blew two third period leads.

Puck drop for the Rangers-Sabres tilt is at 7 P.M. and will be broadcast on MSG 2. Alexandar Georgiev is scheduled to be in the net for the Blueshirts.