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Avalanche at Rangers preview

Defenseman Shattenkirk to debut for New York; Colorado rookie Kerfoot set to play first NHL game

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / Staff Writer

AVALANCHE (0-0-0) at RANGERS (0-0-0)

7 p.m. ET; MSG, ALT, NHL.TV


The Game

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will make his New York Rangers debut at Madison Square Garden on Thursday. Shattenkirk signed a four-year, $26.6 million contract as an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

Shattenkirk, who had an NHL career-high 56 points (13 goals, 43 assists) with the St. Louis Blues and Washington Capitals last season, will play on the first pairing with captain Ryan McDonagh.

"I'm happy with how this morning has gone," Shattenkirk said. "I [don't] think really until tonight when I step out for warmups will I start to kind of realize what's going on and just be happy about it. I think it's going to be a fun night, get the nerves out of the way early and make sure after the first couple of shifts that I am just starting to play my game and help us win a game."

The Avalanche, who finished with the worst record in the League last season (22-56-4), are looking forward to a fresh start. They signed forward Alexander Kerfoot to a two-year, entry level contract on Aug. 24. Kerfoot was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the fifth round (No. 150) of the 2012 NHL Draft, but didn't sign before the Aug. 15 deadline, making him a free agent. He'll be a wing on Colorado's second line with Nail Yakupov and center Matt Duchene.

"Couldn't think of a better place to play my first NHL game," said Kerfoot, 23. "I'm excited and just want to play well and help the team win. I wasn't expecting to be a top-six forward. I just wanted to come in and work as hard as I could and try to make the team and I am fortunate to be on the opening-night roster, but I know that I still have a lot of work to do."


Players to watch

Kerfoot, who had five points (two goals, three assists) in four preseason games, will look to continue the chemistry he developed with Duchene and Yakupov in training camp, and prove that he can handle playing a top-six role.

Rangers rookie Filip Chytil will center the second line between Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello. The 18-year-old had three points (one goal, two assists) in four preseason games and impressed enough to make the roster.


They said it

"Last year is still lingering in our minds but at the same time we want to spit it out a bit if that makes sense. We are anxious to see what we can do and hope we have a great start tonight against the Rangers. -- Duchene on Colorado's 2016-17 season

"Everything we heard about him from St. Louis from the short time in Washington had been extremely positive about him being a team-first guy and I think he's definitely proven that in coming here. Less terms, less money, comes to his hometown team and he wants to be counted on. He wants to be the guy and I think that says a lot about his mental makeup. -- Rangers coach Alain Vigneault on Shattenkirk


Avalanche projected lineup

Sven Andrighetto -- Nathan MacKinnon -- Mikko Rantanen 

Nail Yakupov -- Matt Duchene -- Alexander Kerfoot

Gabriel Landeskog -- J.T. Compher -- Colin Wilson 

Matt Nieto -- Tyson Jost -- Blake Comeau

Mark Barberio -- Erik Johnson

Patrik Nemeth -- Tyson Barrie

Andrei Mironov -- Chris Bigras

Semyon Varlamov

Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Carl Soderberg, Nikita Zadorov

Injured: Sergei Boikov (shoulder), A.J. Greer (concussion)

Rangers projected lineup

Chris Kreider -- Mika Zibanejad -- Pavel Buchnevich

Rick Nash -- Filip Chytil -- Mats Zuccarello

Michael Grabner -- Kevin Hayes -- J.T. Miller

Jimmy Vesey -- David Desharnais -- Paul Carey

Ryan McDonagh -- Kevin Shattenkirk

Brady Skjei -- Brendan Smith

Marc Staal -- Tony DeAngelo

Henrik Lundqvist

Ondrej Pavelec

Scratched: Nick Holden, Steven Kampfer

Injured: Jesper Fast (hip)


Status report

Bednar said Zadorov, a restricted free agent defenseman who signed a two-year contract on Sept. 15, will be scratched. "Based on what we've seen through training camp, he came in a little late and has some catching up to do."


Stat pack

The Rangers are 3-0-0 in their past three regular-season openers and 8-3-1 in their past 12. ... Shattenkirk had five assists in two games against the Avalanche last season. ... Zuccarello has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in nine games against Colorado. ... The Avalanche are 20-10-7 (.635) in season openers, the second best winning percentage in NHL history (Tampa Bay Lightning, 15-7-2, .667).

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