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Mar 18, 2024 6:42 pm

Rangers, Jets clash in matchup of East, West powers

Trocheck

Two teams bound for the Stanley Cup playoffs clash on Tuesday night when the New York Rangers welcome the Winnipeg Jets.

You’d have to go back to Oct. 30 for the first of the teams’ two meetings this season, when Mika Zibanejad’s overtime goal gave the Rangers a 3-2 road victory.

The Rangers (45-19-4, 94 points), sitting in the top spot of the Metropolitan Division and second overall in the Eastern Conference entering Monday, are going all-in this season in their push for the Stanley Cup as they look to be heating up at the right time.

A grueling stretch of five games in seven nights, all against teams either in a playoff spot or those chasing playoff spots, saw them pick up four wins.

“A lot of us guys who’ve played in the American (Hockey) League are kind of used to it,” said Rangers forward Jonny Brodzinski on his club’s effort over the demanding period. “It’s definitely a grind, especially with the earlier games … but there were no excuses.”

On Sunday, the Rangers defeated the Islanders 5-2.

New York may be missing defenseman Ryan Lindgren for Tuesday’s game and beyond after he had to be helped off the ice in the second period on Sunday with what head coach Peter Laviolette called a “lower-body injury.” That news comes as New York will be without captain Jacob Trouba on the blueline for at least another week.

“Our team is deep right now,” said forward Vincent Trocheck after Sunday’s game on moving forward despite the injuries. “We’re getting contributions up and down the lineup. Even when lines aren’t scoring, they’re contributing in other ways getting the momentum, keeping the puck in the (offensive) zone. If we can continue to do that, I like our chances against anyone.”

It will be a tough contest for the Winnipeg Jets (43-19-5, 91 points), who are tied for second in the Western Conference entering Monday, as the Rangers have won nine of their last 10 games at home.

The Jets’ search for consistency is starting to gain footing with some resounding victories over league bottom dwellers Anaheim and Columbus, dumping the Ducks 6-0 on Friday and bruising the Blue Jackets on Sunday 6-1.

“The big test is Tuesday night,” said Jets coach Rick Bowness after Sunday’s win, the opener of a five-game road trip. “We’re playing one of, if not, the top team in the league … it’s the Rangers. We know we haven’t played as well against the top teams lately, as we can, as we’re capable of.”

Winnipeg has stumbled in playoff battles the last few weeks with a 4-1 loss to Dallas on Feb. 29, a 5-0 shutout defeat to Vancouver on March 9 and a 4-2 setback to Nashville on March 13. Those recent results have set up Tuesday’s match against the Rangers as an opponent they must measure up to, with the Jets sitting tied with the Stars and Avalanche for first in the Central Division entering Monday’s action.

“We have to score when we have our chances,” said Jets defenseman Logan Stanley. “We can clean some stuff up off the rush and in the (defensive) zone. We’re going into New York next and that’s going to be a tougher challenge.”

–Field Level Media

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