In case you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, you might want to do a double — or even triple — take when watching the Rangers take on Tampa Bay.
The Lightning have five former-Rangers (Ryan Callahan, Anton Stralman, J.T. Miller, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh) on their roster.
For many Blueshirts’ fans, it will be painful to watch as their previously favorite players try to put a nail in the Rangers’ coffin. And to also attempt to win the Stanley Cup for another team.
Many current Blueshirts will have mixed feelings when they skate onto Tampa’s ice. But when the puck drops, their only friends will be those in the red, white and blue jerseys.
Therefore, it won’t be surprising to see sparks fly early and often.
And it’s a virtual guarantee their will be more than a few bruises when all is said and done.
DEEP ROOTED CONNECTIONS
Vladislav Namestnikov spent parts of five seasons with Tampa Bay (2013-2018).
Ryan McDonagh played a majority of the past eight seasons with the Rangers (2010-2018). And he was the 27th captain in franchise history (2014-2018).
Dan Girardi played 11 seasons for the Rangers (2006-2017); ranking ninth on the franchise’s all-time games played list (788).
Ryan Callahan was a Ranger for part of eight seasons (2006-2014); serving as the 26th captain in franchise history from 2011-2014.
Anton Stralman manned the Blueshirts’ blue line for three seasons (2011-2014); helping the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2013-14.
J.T. Miller wore a Rangers sweater for parts of six seasons (2012-2018); helping the team advance to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013-14.
Mats Zuccarello: The scrappy winger is four goals away from 100 in his NHL career.
Mika Zibanejad: The Rangers’ top-line center is three goals away from 100 in his NHL career.
Kevin Hayes: The Blueshirts’ do-it-all-center is four assists shy of 100 in his NHL career.
Henrik Lundqvist: The future Hall-of-Fame goaltender is closing in on another career milestone; he’s two appearances away from 800.
PLAYER TO WATCH
LIGHTNING: J.T. MILLER. Since coming to the Lightning in the trade that sent Namestnikov to the Rangers, Miller has four points in as many games. And he’s seen his ice-time trend upwards. Playing with more talented teammates has brought out the best in Miller. Now it’s just a question of if he can sustain it.
RANGERS: VLADISLAV NAMESTNIKOV. The Russian-center is doing his best to find his footing with the Rangers. After coming over as part of the trade that sent J.T. Miller to Tampa, Namestnikov excited Blueshirts’ fans with a two-point debut. Since then, Vladislav has seen his ice-time dip as he attempts to develop chemistry with his new teammates. And expect Namestnikov to be extra motivated in his first game against the Lightning since being traded.
The Rangers don’t have many moving pieces.
And there’s only lineup decision in question.
Will Mika Zibanejad be able to suit up after battling the flu?
WHERE TO WATCH
The game will be broadcast on MSG Networks at 7:30 pm ET. For in-game coverage check out our Twitter account @NYRBlueBulletin.
In all likelihood this one won’t be pretty for the Blueshirts as the Lightning look to end all talk of them being the “Rangers South.”