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Preview: Rangers Open 2017-18 Season Against Avalanche

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Rangers (0-0-0, 0 pts) vs. Avalanche (0-0-0, 0 pts)
7 pm, MSG Network

The Game

The 91st season on Broadway for the Rangers begins tonight when New York plays host to the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden.

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk makes his long awaited debut Thursday after signing as a free agent this past July 1. Shattenkirk, who grew up a Ranger fan in the New York suburb of New Rochelle, is coming off a career-year split between St. Louis and Washington that saw the blueliner post a career-best 56 points in 80 games.

Rookie Filip Chytil is expected to make his NHL debut tonight after making the club out of camp just weeks after his 18th birthday. Other new faces in the lineup are forwards David Desharnais and Paul Carey, as well as defenseman Tony DeAngelo, who was acquired in a trade with Arizona.

Henrik Lundqvist is expected to make his 12th consecutive start in a season-opening game with the Rangers, and thus would become the first netminder to do so.

Colorado is coming off difficult season, finishing with an NHL-worst 48 points. With that said, the Avalanche are far from devoid of talent with forwards Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon all expected to play, as is Alex Kerfoot, who signed as a college free agent after four seasons at Harvard.

Players to Watch

Shattenkirk admitted there will be nerves at the start of the game, but the veteran defenseman expects things to settle down after a few shifts. As stated, he's coming off a career-year in 2016-17, and is expected to run the team's top power play unit while logging minutes alongside two-time All-Star Ryan McDonagh on the team's first defensive pair.

While Colorado struggled last season, forward Mikko Rantanen was a bright spot, as the 20-year-old posted a 20-goal rookie campaign. His 38 points in 75 games was 10th-best among first-year players.

Say what?

"I think I'm really just trying to figure out how nervous I'll be and how much excitement there will be for my family and friends. I don't think there's any real way to quantify that until you actually do it." - Kevin Shattenkirk on making his Rangers debut

"They have a lot of great players. You can never take any team in this league lightly because the parity is so close. They're a great team. I don't know if people call it rebuilding or trying to find their identity, but they have a good team. At any moment they can be right up there at the top. We have to make sure we come out and play a good game." - Brendan Smith on Colorado

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)

Inside the Numbers

The Rangers are opening their regular season schedule at home for the 26th time in franchise history. The Blueshirts have posted a 38-36-14-2 record in their 90 home openers in franchise history, including an 11-9-5-0 record in home openers which were also their regular season opener.

For the first time in franchise history, the Rangers' season-opening roster does not include a player who has a single-digit jersey number. 

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