The Need to Knows:
The Time: 4:00pm PT
The Place: Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Place to Watch: ROOT Northwest, ESPN+ for out-of-market fans
Place to Listen: KJR 93.3fm
An Opposing Viewpoint: Blue Shirt Banter
Know your Enemy:
The Rangers are 29-14-8 for 66 points and third place in the Metro division. Despite being in third place, they have a better record than Seattle!
The big story in New York is the trade for Blues sniper Vladimir Tarasenko, who is expected to be playing his first game as a Ranger against the Kraken. Think a ++ version of Eeli Tolvanen (but without the defensive ability). He has a similarly ridiculous shot and amazing hands. Look at the speed of that release!
Tarasenko #NYR pic.twitter.com/cbZPuBIrwI— David Wyatt-Hupton (@DWyattHupton) February 9, 2023
There is an ancillary Kraken connection: Tarasenko was exposed in the expansion draft and was the expected pick, but Seattle went with Vince Dunn instead. As good as Tarasenko has been, it’s becoming clear that Vince Dunn was very likely the right choice, but Kraken GM Ron Francis initially took a lot of heat for that decision.
Tarasenko will likely be put on the top line with Arteri Panarin and Mika Zibanejad, two stars of the league. This is a lot of firepower.
They also have the “kid line” that has been absolutely dynamite in Alexis Lafrenière, Filip Chytil, and Kaapo Kakko.
In addition, the Rangers also have one of the absolute best defensemen in Adam Fox and one of the best goalies in the world in reigning Vezina winner (and MVP finalist!) Igor Shesterikin.
Their goal song is “Slapshot” by longtime Madison Square Garden organist Ray Castoldi. Credit to them for using an original piece and a local artist, but the song itself is pretty underwhelming as far as goal songs go. It’s just a vehicle to get people to say “hey” in unison, which comes off as a bit lazy. It’s a middle-of-the-pack goal song.
Martin Jones will get the start, as Philipp Grubauer got the start Thursday against the Devils.
Look, I’m going to be honest here: this is not a great spot for Seattle. Even though they didn’t have to travel by air, playing back-to-back games on the road is not ideal. On this road trip, Seattle faced Vezina favorite Ilya Sorokin with the Islanders; Mackenzie Blackwood observing National Turn Into a Wall Day with the Devils; and now Shesterkin with the Rangers.
And in front of him, the Rangers have two absolutely dynamite scoring lines. This is going to be a real challenge. But this wouldn’t be the first (or second, or third) time this season the Kraken have been in a disadvantageous spot against a good team and pulled it off.