It’s finally that time. Time to say goodbye to Madison Square Garden for the next few months.
For the first time since the 2009-10 season, the Blueshirts will not be participating in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
But before the Rangers depart for their season-ending four game road trip, they have two orders of business to take care of at home.
One, they will be showing a video tribute to Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and J.T. Miller, each of whom are returning to The Garden as visitors for the first time in their careers.
Two, they are presenting the Steven McDonald Award.
Per the Blueshirts PR department, “The Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award is presented annually to the Ranger who, as chosen by the fans, ‘goes above and beyond the call of duty.’ This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award. The award, which has been given annually since the 1987-88 season, bears the name of New York City Police Detective Steven McDonald, who was shot and injured in the line of duty on July 12, 1986 and passed away on January 10, 2017.”
With the video tribute and the Award ceremony on tap, it’s going to be a very emotional pregame. And then the Rangers still have to play their game against the Lightning. Talk about a rough night.
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.
Jesper Fast: His recent hot-streak has Fast nearing a nice round number. And that number is 100 career points; he’s four away.
PLAYER TO WATCH
LIGHTNING: J.T. MILLER. Since coming to the Lightning Miller has 13 points in as many games. And he’s seen his ice-time trend upwards. For the first time in his career, he’s receiving consistent top-line minutes. And his performance has spiked upwards.
RANGERS: VLADISLAV NAMESTNIKOV. The Russian-center has yet to find his footing with the Rangers. Namestnikov excited Blueshirts’ fans with a two-point debut. But since then, Vladislav has seen his ice-time dip and he’s been demoted to the fourth-line. If he wants to remain on the team next year, he’s going to have to prove he belongs.
Ondrej Pavelec is drawing the start.
Beyond that, there are no changes to speak of.
WHERE TO WATCH
The game will be broadcast on MSG Networks at 7 pm ET. For in-game coverage check out our Twitter account@NYRBlueBulletin.
It’s been a trying year.