“Oh, we’ve got to hold on, ready or not. You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got. Woah, we’re halfway there. Woah, livin’ on a prayer.”— Bon Jovi, Livin’ On A Prayer
Bon Jovi’s hit song was released in 1986, yet the lyrics are extremely accurate when describing the 2017-18 NY Rangers.
From their 3-7-2 start to their current 0-3-0 slide the Blueshirts have done nothing but fight through this most trying season.
The team suffered two massive blows when it lost Chris Kreider and Kevin Shattenkirk to injuries.
Neither of which is expected back before the end of March.
They weren’t ready to lose Kreider and Shattenkirk but now they have to try and hold on as their playoff aspirations are looking like nothing but a prayer.
On October 23rd, the Sharks came to MSG and routed the Blueshirts 4-1.
Three games later, the Rangers began to turn their season around with a 6-4 comeback win against the Golden Knights on Halloween.
Now it’s time for the Blueshirts to visit San Jose. And unfortunately a rout again looks likely.
Only this time, there might not be a chance to rebound.
For the Rangers’ sake they need two points in the worst possible way. And they should come out playing desperately.
DEEP ROOTED CONNECTIONS
Joe Thornton and Rick Nash were teammates on Team Canada at the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics; winning gold in 2010.
Ryan McDonagh and Joe Pavelski have some interesting history. They are two of only six American-born captains in the NHL. They both played college hockey at University of Wisconsin. (McDonagh 2007-2010 and Pavelski 2004-2006). Additionally, they tied for the team lead in points (two) at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey for Team USA.
Mats Zuccarello: The scrappy winger is closing in on more career milestones. He is six goals and three points away from 100 and 300 respectively in his NHL career.
David Desharnais: The diminutive center’s next game is the 500th in his NHL career.
Rick Nash: The veteran winger is four points away from 800 in his illustrious NHL career.
PLAYER TO WATCH
SHARKS: BRENT BURNS. The Sharks All-World defenseman isn’t quite setting the league on fire like he did last season. But he’s still a dynamic offensive presence on the blue line. With 32 points in his last 28 games — and at least a point in 18 of his last 21 — Burns is fully recovered from his early season struggles. And he leads the team in points to boot.
RANGERS: J.T. MILLER. The hybrid winger/center found himself on the bench after the first period against the Ducks and did not return. Miller has occasionally migrated into Vigneault’s proverbial doghouse and he sure looks to be there right now. Should Kevin Hayes be healthy enough to play, expect Miller to either start on the fourth-line or be outright scratched against San Jose.
The Blueshirts are in a free fall thanks to three consecutive losses. And those losses have created questions regarding who should and shouldn’t be playing.
J.T. Miller and Jimmy Vesey were held accountable for their mistakes; riding the pine for much of the game against the Ducks.
With Kevin Hayes due back any day and multiple players struggling, look for Head Coach Alain Vigneault to make changes.
And after his first poor performance in two months, Henrik Lundqvist could be rested in favor of Ondrej Pavelec.
However, there won’t be any updates until after the Rangers’ morning skate on Thursday.
WHERE TO WATCH
The game will be broadcast on MSG 2 at 10:30 pm ET. For in-game coverage check out our Twitter account @NYRBlueBulletin.
It’s never a good idea to put an ultimatum on a game with two months remaining in the season.
But that’s the point the Rangers are at.
And as the NHL Trade Deadline draws closer every loss is magnified accordingly.