Rangers look to extend 2nd place lead over Penguins with only 11 games remaining

The New York Rangers will look to increase their four-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins with a huge contest set to begin at the Garden Thursday night.

A look at the NHL standings may surprise a few, but to most fans, the New York Rangers sitting in second place in the Metropolitan Division is no surprise. This team is primed for a strong playoff run with just 11 games remaining in the 2021-2022 season.

Thursday night begins an 11 game stretch with a battle for second place against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Including Thursday’s game, the Blueshirts will play eight of their final 11 games at Madison Square Garden where they have a record of 22-7-4.  The game will be the final regular-season contest against Sidney Crosby and his Penguins.  In the last contest on Mar. 29, the Rangers beat the Penguins 3-2 in Pittsburgh and have a 2-1 record against them this season.

With the Stanley Cup Playoffs awaiting them, the team has a great chance to catch the division-leading Carolina Hurricanes who have a two-point lead over the Blueshirts (98 Pts.) with one game in hand. Carolina also plays on Thursday night with a game against the Buffalo Sabres at home.

It’s a Power Play Goal

Chris Kreider scored his 25th power-play goal of the season in Tuesday’s win over the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center. The goal set a franchise record for the most power-play goals in a season. Kreider’s goal stood up as the game-winning goal, his franchise record-setting 10th of the season. Kreider is the first NHL skater since Alex Ovechkin in 2014-15 to reach the 25 PPG mark.  It was his 47th goal on the season as he continues his pursuit to reach the 50 gaol mark.

One of the biggest surprised of this season is the emergence of rookie Braden Schneider. The 20-year-old, who has been paired with both Patrik Nemeth and Justin Braun, continues to grow as a hockey player in the short time he has been up with the Rangers.

His teammates have given him the nickname of “baby Trouba” due to his hitting ability which was evident in the game against the Devils on Tuesday night. Schneider lined up Devils Jesper Boqvist. The very hard but very clean hit in the neutral zone drew the attention of forward Yegor Sharangovich who decided to defend his teammate and take on Schneider in a fight following the hit.

Sharangovich lost the fight suffering a bloody bruise on his forehead. The Devils lost him for the game as he was unable to return to the game. Schneider has found himself in a solid position with the team with his flexibility to play wherever the team needs him to.

National Televisison Covereage

Thursday’s game can be seen only on ESPN+ and Hulu. MSG Networks will have pregame and postgame coverage for the game against Pittsburgh tomorrow night on MSG. The network will also have pregame and postgame coverage for the other two remaining regular-season national exclusive telecasts to keep fans close to the action down the stretch run – April 13th at Philadelphia on MSG and April 23rd at Boston on MSG2.

Kreider scores 200th NHL goal as Rangers drop San Jose 3-0

Chris Kreider scored his 200th career goal, Braden Schneider netted his first NHL goal, and Igor Shesterkin shut out the Sharks in the  New York Rangers 3-0 win.

Chris Kreider scored his first career short-handed goal in the first period of the New York Rangers and ended that game by recording his 200th NHL as the Blueshirts defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-0 on Thursday night.  Earlier in the day, he was named to the NHL All-Star along with defenseman Adam Fox.

As has been the case most days recently, the Rangers had another player enter Covid Protocol and this time it was Alexis Lafreniere.

The Blueshirts lineup was a mix of NHL and AHL players with the team doing its best to maneuver through the pandemic issues.  Head coach Kris Knoblauch ( up from the AHL due to Gerrard Gallant’s positive test earlier this week) must have felt comfortable with many of his Wolf Pack players in the game on Thursday.

Kreider scored his first of the game off a short-handed feed from Mika Zibaenajad.  It was the 22nd goal of the year for Kreider with Zibanejad and Adam Fox getting the helpers to give the Rangers a 1-0 lead early in the first period.

Zibanejad extended his point streak to four games (2G-2A). It was his second shorthanded point of the season and 16th of his career. In his last 10 games, Zibanejad has registered eight goals and five assists for 13 points and has points in five of his last six games (5G-2A).

Adam Fox continues to have a great season. He recorded his team-leading 32nd assist and team-leading 37th  point of the season. Fox’s 37 points are the third most among league defensemen.

That score held until the third period when rookie Braden Schneider made the score 2-0 last 1:27 of the third period. Ryan Strome found Schneider on the top of the circle and then blistered a shot past Sharks goalie Adin Hill.

The goal was the first of his NHL career in his first NHL game. Schneider is the seventh defenseman in Rangers franchise history to score in his first NHL game.

Rookie Jitters

The 20-year-old Schneider was expectedly nervous before the game began on Thursday as was reported by Chelena Goldman of NHL.com.

“The whole day I was quite jittery, I couldn’t really sit still. My nap wasn’t too great. I came to the rink and same thing, I had nerves and I just tried to stay in the moment. When I got on the ice for warmup, it became a little bit more real. Then I don’t think it hit me until my first shift of the game. I felt like after that I settled in and I got a little bit more confident as the game went on.”

Kreider scored his 200th career into an empty net to close out the game for the Blueshirts. Kreider became the 12th player in franchise history to score 200 or more goals.

Shesterkin returns

Igor Shesterkin returned from his Covids hiatus to record his second consecutive shutout and third shutout of the year. Shesterkin extended his shutout streak to 126:57 minutes. In the win, Shesterkin made 37 saves and improved to 11-0-0 over his career when making 37 or more saves. Among NHL goaltenders who have played 10 or more games, Shesterkin ranks first in save percentage (.939), second in goals-against average (1.99), and tied for seventh in wins (16). Shesterkin has won seven of his last eight starts.

The win was the team’s 14th of the season, which leads the NHL.

Notes:

  • The Rangers have won seven straight games against the Sharks, dating to Jan. 25, 2018, which is tied for their longest win streak against an opponent (seven, New Jersey Devils).
  • Kreider tied Tomas Sandstrom for 18th place in Rangers history with 380 points. He has 200 goals and 180 assists in 611 games in 10 seasons with the Rangers.
  • Zibanejad has scored 13 points (eight goals, five assists) in the past 10 games.
  • Forward Anthony Greco, playing his second NHL game, had five shots in 9:44 in his Rangers debut. He is the son of a former FDNY firefighter who passed away due to a 9/11 illness.

The Rangers will not have a game start later than 8:00 p.m. for the remainder of this season.

The team’s next game is Saturday in Philadelphia 7:00 PM, TV: MSG+.

New York Rangers Sign 2020 First-Round Pick to Entry-Level Contract

The New York Rangers have signed their 19th overall pick from the 2020 NHL Draft, Braden Schneider, according to Cap Friendly.

The 19-year-old defenseman’s entry-level contract will begin with the 2021-22 season and is for three years. The base salary is $832,500 plus a signing bonus of $92,500, with a minor league salary of $80,000, and $400,000 in potential performance bonuses each season. The cap hit is $925,000 with an AAV of $1.325M.

Schneider finished his 2019–20 season for the Brandon Wheat Kings with 35 assists and 42 points. Because of Covid-19 causing the WHL to be on hold, Schneider started to play in 2021 with the Hartford Wolf Pack on an amateur tryout that would allow him to return to the Brandon Wheat Kings when their season started. He made his professional debut with the Wolf Pack, totalling two appearances for 1 assist before he was returned to the Wheat Kings on February 13, 2021. The Wheat Kings are scheduled to open their season on March 12 vs. the Moose Jaw Warriors, and they will play in 24 games between then and April 28.

 

Meet the New York Rangers “other” first round pick, Braden Schneider

The New York Rangers had two first-round draft picks on Tuesday night. After selecting Alexis Lafreniere with the first overall pick, the Rangers traded up to not only snipe their arch-rival New Jersey Devils but to select a “gritty” and a “throwback” style defenseman in Braden Schneider.

With a late birthday (September 20, 2001) Schneider is one of the older players in the 2020 NHL Draft class, which has given him the opportunity to play three full seasons with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings. Since 2017, Schneider has steadily improved and focused on rounding out his game.

According to the Western Hockey League’s draft profile, Schneider says that he tries to model his game, best he can, after the likes of former WHL star Shea Weber, already a veteran of 16 NHL seasons, and Alex Pietrangelo. NHL Central Scouting has said his current comparable is Weber, which is a pretty good indicator he is succeeding and well on his way to being that guy who “is going to play in the NHL for a long time,” as one scout stated.

“He has a great physical game, he’s a great defensive player,” said Ryan Kennedy, Senior Writer for The Hockey News. “What I like about Schneider is he plays a pro game. He’s almost kind of a safe pick. You look at him and you say, ‘Yeah, that is a kid who is going to play in the NHL for a long time. He has 15 years written all over him.’ Big body, skates well. He has some offense to his game, but he’s more of a penalty kill guy, really. But he is strong.”

“I’m a two-way physical defenseman,” Schneider said. “I take a lot of pride in my own end and in being a guy who’s hard to play against and in your face, and if the opportunity comes to make a good pass or jump up in the play or get a shot on net, I’m more than willing to take it. So, a two-way guy who looks for holes and tries punishing you when I can.”

This is something that the Rangers were looking for, especially after the quick and early exit against Carolina in the qualifying round.

The WHL draft profile also mentions that Schneider has logged significant time with Hockey Canada. He captained Canada White at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge before then earning a gold medal with Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, chipping in with three points (2G-1A) in seven outings, logging a plus-9 rating for good measure. In 2019, Schneider was in an evaluation camp for Canada’s entry into the 2020 World Junior Championship but found himself on the outside looking in as one of the final cuts from the roster.

However, don’t look for him too soon. Schneider will likely spend one more year in Juniors in order to develop full NHL skills. The WHL is hoping to resume on December 4. He is also expected to be on the Team Canada roster at the 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton.