The New York Rangers opened the month of November with a 1-0 shutout victory against the Boston Bruins, but have won just one game sandwiched in between a pair of losses since.
With a three-game road trip across Western Canada now complete, the Rangers have a few days off before returning to action later this week.
The Rangers will need as much rest as possible.
It was a tough road trip for New York, as the Blueshirts sustained three injuries in Canada. Against the Calgary Flames on Saturday night, the Rangers lost their captain Chris Drury (due to a concussion) and Brandon Dubinsky (possibly broken right hand).
Henrik Lundqvist is also suffering from an undisclosed injury, but he isn’t expected to miss much time and could be back in goal on Thursday, while both Drury and Dubinsky could be out a while.
Here is a look at some key dates remaining for the Rangers during the month of November:
Thursday, Nov. 12—Rangers vs. Atlanta Thrashers 7:00 PM
This matchup would be a lot tougher if Ilya Kovalchuk wasn’t out with a broken foot. The captain of the Thrashers is expected to miss anywhere from three-to-five weeks with a broken bone in his right foot. While a Kovalchuk-less Thrashers team is good news for the Rangers, they are not without some key injuries of their own, as described above.
This will be the first time the Blueshirts face former Ranger Nik Antropov. Antropov was acquired by the Rangers at the trade deadline last season, as a rental, and signed with Atlanta this past offseason. He skated in 18 regular season games with New York, scoring seven goals and six assists.
While Antropov has yet to find the back of the net with the Thrashers, he does lead the team with 13 assists.
The Rangers will need to stop the big man in front of the net, but will also need to keep Rich Peverley off the board, who leads the Thrashers with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists).
Tuesday, Nov. 17—Rangers vs. Washington Capitals 7:00 PM
This will be just the second meeting between the Rangers and the Capitals this season, after the two teams met last on Thursday, Oct. 8.
The first game ended when New York rallied for two late goals in the third period, both scored by Gaborik, as the Rangers skated to a 4-3 victory. The reigning MVP of the league, Alex Ovechkin, was held off the scoreboard, while Nicklas Backstrom did all he could, netting two goals for the Caps.
If the Rangers are to be successful for a second-straight game against Washington, the Rangers must limit Ovechkin’s scoring chances. Even though Ovechkin was held without a point in the first meeting, he still managed to get a game high nine shots-on-goal.
Stopping Ovechkin is only half the battle though, as the Caps have plenty of offensive weapons in Backstrom, Brooks Laich, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green.
The Rangers managed to beat the Capitals in Washington, so a win at MSG shouldn’t be impossible to achieve.
Friday, Nov. 27—Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning 7:30 PM
The long-awaited visit to Tampa Bay will soon be here.
This will be the first visit for Rangers head coach John Tortorella, assistant coach Mike Sullivan, and alternate captain Vaclav Prospal to Tampa Bay as members of the Rangers organization.
Prospal played six seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning (three different spans), spending time also with the Ducks and Flyers organizations in between. Now, Prospal is the alternate captain of the Rangers and has much to prove to his former club.
Prospal has revived his game, netting four goals and adding 14 assists and he has contributed immensely with his great on-ice vision and leadership abilities.
The game might not mean as much to Tortorella and Sullivan, but for Prospal, it's very important. After all, it was Tampa Bay who bought out the final three years of Prospal's four-year $14 million deal.
"This is a huge opportunity to prove people wrong," Prospal said when he signed with New York back in August.
Saturday, Nov. 28—Rangers at Pittsburgh Penguins 7:30 PM
This will be the second meeting of the season between the Rangers and Penguins. The defending Stanley Cup champion Penguins gave the Rangers their first loss of the season on Oct. 2, with a 3-2 defeat.
The Rangers played well in the season opener, but the Penguins were skating with a ton of emotion after raising their 2009 Stanley Cup Banner prior to the start of the game.
Beating the Penguins is no easy task, but if it's going to be done, the Rangers must stop both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, who each had a goal in the season opener.
This will be another big test for New York and it should be an indicator whether or not the Rangers can compete with one of the top teams in the league.
Monday, Nov. 30—Rangers vs. Pittsburgh Penguins 7:00 PM
In the first visit to Madison Square Garden this season, the Penguins will have either won both previous meetings against the Rangers or will be coming off a loss. Rangers fans can only hope it's the latter.
The Rangers need to play with toughness at home and keep the Penguins off the board early. The Penguins will want to take the MSG crowd out of the game, so it's imperative for the Rangers to score first and build that early lead.
Will the Rangers be able to close out the month of November with a victory?