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Rangers Wrap Up Road Trip With Matchup Against Columbus

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

Rangers (9-8-2, 20 pts) at Blue Jackets (11-7-1, 23 pts)
7 pm, Nationwide Arena
MSG+; ESPN 1050 AM

The Game

The Rangers look to get back in the win column tonight against the Blue Jackets in Columbus, 48 hours after their six-game winning streak came to an end in Chicago.

New York fell behind the Blackhawks, 4-1, early in the third period but made a game of it, getting back to within two goals before Chicago added two more on their way to a 6-3 victory.

Brendan Smith will return to the Rangers' lineup after a six-game absence, and will replace Steven Kampfer on a pair with Marc Staal. Henrik Lundqvist, who was replaced by Ondrej Pavelec in the third period in Chicago, will make his eighth straight start.

Tonight's game marks the third time this season the Rangers and Blue Jackets have met. The Blue Jackets to the first meeting in Chicago, with the Rangers taking the next at Madison Square Garden.

The Blue Jackets enter tonight's game winners of two straight over Montreal and Detroit. Artemi Panarin leads the way with 13 points in 19 games, followed by defenseman Seth Jones' 12 in 19 games.

Players to Watch

Smith will get his first action since Oct. 31 against the Vegas Golden Knights, and he'll no doubt look to improve on the directions given to him by the coaching staff that led to his removal late last month. On area Alain Vigneault mentioned is Smith playing with more of the physical edge he brought to the team at least year's trade deadline, and a matchup with Columbus should offer Smith amble opportunity to finish his checks.

Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky is off to another Vezina-worthy season for the Blue Jackets. The reigning top netminder is second in goals against average, sixth in save percentage, and is tied for seventh in wins with 10. Despite his strong career numbers, Bobrovsky has struggled against the Rangers and enters tonight's game just 6-10-2 against New York in 19 games.

Say What?

"Whenever you've sat, even for whatever the period has been, you want to prove yourself that you should be there on a day-to-day basis, but you've got to play your game. There is that happy medium, but for myself, I think I've been around the league long enough that I've seen it and I understand it. I know when I'm playing my best when I'm letting the game come to me and I'm playing aggressive, making good reads and helping us break out the puck." - Brendan Smith on returning to the lineup.

Rangers Projected Lineup

Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Pavel Buchnevich
Rick Nash - Kevin Hayes - Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey - David Desharnais - J.T. Miller
Michael Grabner - Boo Nieves - Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh - Nick Holden
Brady Skjei - Kevin Shattenkirk
Marc Staal - Brendan Smith

Henrik Lundqvist

Inside the Numbers

Over the course of his career, Shattenkirk has not gone two consecutive games against the Blue Jackets without recording a point. He has tallied a point in six of his last eight games against Columbus, registering eight points (three goals, five assists) over the span.

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