Improbable. Inconceivable. Unimaginable. Unthinkable.
Go ahead, pick your choice.
Anyone of those words can be used to adequately describe the Rangers’ current three-game win-streak.
With three straight wins following the NHL’s annual Trade Deadline, the Blueshirts have revived their seemingly dead playoff dreams.
By selling off most of their veteran assets by the deadline, the Rangers signaled they were going forward with their rebuilding plans.
Therefore, it’s safe to say nobody saw this winning-streak coming. And nobody saw this team as having any chance at gaining entry to the playoffs.
But don’t look now. The Blueshirts are within five points of a the final Wild Card spot in the East.
And they’re set to put their streak on the line against the Jets.
DEEP ROOTED CONNECTIONS
Ondrej Pavelec spent parts of 10 seasons with the Thrashers/Jets franchise (2007-2017), and is the franchise’s all-time leader in wins (152), shutouts (17), and appearances by a goaltender (379).
During the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Rangers and Thrashers made a trade. The Blueshirts acquired the 12th overall pick in exchange for the 16th and 41st overall picks. With that pick, the Rangers selected Marc Staal. Meanwhile, the Thrashers took Ondrej Pavelec with the 41st overall pick.
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 three appearances away from 800.
Pavel Buchnevich: The Russian-winger’s next game is the 100th of his young NHL career.
PLAYER TO WATCH
JETS: CONNOR HELLEBUYCK. Winnipeg’s young goalie is in the midst of a Vezina-caliber season. With a record of 34-10-8, .922 SV%, 2.40 GAA and six shutouts, Hellebuyck is proving he’s a force to be reckoned with. He faced the Rangers nine games ago. And while he lost that game, he’s 6-2 since. Therefore, expect him to be out for revenge when he takes to the MSG ice.
RANGERS: HENRIK LUNDQVIST. The Rangers’ franchise goaltender is coming off consecutive 50-save wins. And, Lundqvist just celebrated his 36th birthday. He’s done everything possible for an NHL netminder; except win the Stanley Cup. But with the Blueshirts suddenly teeming with momentum, Lundqvist is eyeing another playoff run; hopefully to the Cup.
Head Coach Alain Vigneault is loath to make lineup changes after a win — or three. Therefore, expect the same lineup that’s been on the ice during the team’s winning-streak.
And Henrik Lundqvist is expected to start in net.
WHERE TO WATCH
The game will be broadcast on MSG 2 at 7 pm ET. For in-game coverage check out our Twitter account @NYRBlueBulletin.
The Blueshirts were nine points out of the final playoff berth when they boarded their plane to Vancouver on the afternoon of the NHL’s Trade Deadline.
Since then, they’ve gone 3-0-0 and have trimmed their deficit to five points.
And with a little luck — not to mention a win over the Jets — they could be three points out entering their matchup with the Lightning Thursday night.