On the back of one of their more lackadaisical performances, the upcoming weekend for the New York Rangers is a pivotal one. With injuries to two of their young forwards and a possible goaltending fiasco, New York remains at the top of the Metropolitan Division. If these two months have proved anything, Peter Laviolette has done an excellent job adapting to his available options. From Hartford call-ups to adjusting lineups, Laviolette and his staff have slowly won over the trust of many Blueshirts fans.
Despite having played three of their worst performances in this month alone, New York is maintaining its groove. Not many would have predicted the Rangers to have 39 points having played 27 games. With the rest of the division catching up, the Rangers have a chance this weekend to keep their lead. New York will embark on another back-to-back weekend, with two more to follow in December alone. Here are a few headlines and two previews of the upcoming weekend for the New York Rangers.
K’Andre Miller‘s Return to Lineup Is “Questionable”
We must always remember that hockey players are people, too. The number of eyeballs on them is unimaginable. Was it a surprise that K’andre Miller would be out of the lineup on Tuesday? Absolutely, but it should not be a surprise. No matter what our careers are, we all deserve some time off.
Miller returned to practice on Thursday and met with the media afterward. He did not want to get into any specifics on why he was out but mentioned that he is in a much better headspace than before. This is a scenario that does not matter why he missed time. What matters is that the Rangers are getting back one of their top four defencemen at a crucial part of the month.
“I don’t feel too comfortable talking about it right now, but I’m doing better and I’m in a better headspace. Happy to be back with the guys.”
K’Andre Miller talks about missing time with a “personal issue” pic.twitter.com/iYWh8Towef
— Rangers Videos (@SNYRangers) December 14, 2023
The Minnetonka, MN native was not sure whether he would be ready for Friday’s tilt with the Anaheim Ducks. Yet, what matters most in this situation is that he is happy to be back. That’s all that you can ask for, right? Just be grateful that he is back so soon and can find joy in being around his teammates.
Miller, who has 12 points in 26 games played, is discovering consistent point production in Laviolette’s lineup. He and defensive partner Jacob Trouba are proving to be a top shut-down pair in the National Hockey League. The aggression and sacrificial style of Trouba complements Miller’s offensive instincts perfectly. Here’s to hoping that this pair can reunite whenever Miller feels like he is ready to make his return.
Friday’s Matchup vs Anaheim
The Rangers will begin another back-to-back weekend on Friday at Madison Square Garden. New York will welcome the Anaheim Ducks, a young team looking to find their way out of the basement of the Pacific Division. The Ducks, having a record of 10-18-0 possess a few sparks in their lineup, one of them being an old friend of New York.
GAME DAY. pic.twitter.com/d6pBoaDFKl
— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) December 15, 2023
The Rangers have not been successful in re-signing some of their past trade deadline acquisitions. While having multiple players locked up to long-term contracts, many have had to walk somewhere else once the summer hit. One of those old flames is Frank Vatrano, who leads the Ducks with 14 goals and 23 points. Having no point-per-game players on their roster, Vatrano is one of the few glimmers for this young Ducks team.
There is no clear indication of who the starting netminder will be for the Rangers. This is a game where Jonathan Quick can continue his great form. He is 8-0-1 on the year and 1-0-0 in the team’s new third jerseys. With the team rocking them once again on Friday, why not have Quick improve to 2-0-0 in the new sweaters?
Saturday’s Matchup at Boston
Only 24 hours later, New York will ship up to Boston for a Saturday night showdown against the Bruins. In their last time out, the Rangers propelled to victory in a 7-4 win on home ice. Now, it’s an Original Six showdown from “The Other Garden” in a battle of heavyweights.
Boston is making its rounds in the New York Metropolitan area. After a hard-fought loss to the New Jersey Devils, Boston is in action tonight against the New York Islanders.
Friday night on Long Island.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) December 15, 2023
Puck drop for both matchups is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST from both The World’s Most Famous Arena and TD Garden.
Main Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports