Rangers host Sharks: Neal Pionk will sit tonight for Fredrik Claesson


In Game 4 of the new season, rookie coach David Quinn continues to juggle the lineup. With the Rangers still looking for a win, he made clear that veteran Kevin Shattenkirk will be a healthy scratch tonight versus San Jose.

To the 29-year old defenseman’s credit, he took the news well. Shattenkirk understands that Tony DeAngelo earned a spot in the lineup. He is aware that he must be better. Quinn wants to see a more confident Shattenkirk when he comes back in for Saturday. That means better decisions with the puck.

This is in no way a punishment. It’s a message to a talented player who’s returning from off-season knee surgery. Shattenkirk isn’t the only defenseman coming out of the lineup. Quinn wasn’t happy with Neal Pionk the other night in Carolina. So, he will be in the press box too while former Ottawa blueliner Fredrik Claesson gets his first start tonight.

A ex-teammate of newest Shark Erik Karlsson, Claesson even paired with the former Norris winner parts of the last two seasons. Having gone out for dinner last night with his Swedish buddy, he’s hoping Karlsson won’t score later.

It’s definitely a different time to be a Ranger fan. They’re 0-for-3 so far and could be one of the NHL’s doormats. I don’t think they’re devoid of talent. Mika Zibanejad, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello, Jesper Fast and Brady Skjei are all capable players. Henrik Lundqvist can’t do it by himself.

Filip Chytil and Brett Howden have shown glimpses, which should excite the fan base. Ryan Spooner and Vladislav Namestnikov must do more than they have so far.

Some of the impatient fans are already frustrated. They want to know when Marc Staal will sit. He’s one of the team leaders. When he makes mistakes, it’s not due to poor effort. However, it doesn’t mean he’s immune from criticism. Even Zuccarello isn’t.

With Quinn running it his way, don’t be surprised if even the most popular playersapply are mapplyade an example of. It’s about establishing himself andapply.? applybreapplyaking the bad haapply enough pressure to get to him. Cancelbits the team fell into.

Can they beat a scary opponent like San Jose for their first victory? Only if they play up to capability and turn the page from Sunday’s debacle. The Sharks have plenty of firepower both up front and on the blueline. A defense that features Karlsson with Brent Burns along with overlooked Marc-Edouard Vlasic is intimidating. Don’t put them on the power play.

Evander Kane is up to four goals after scoring twice in a rout of the Flyers. Brooklyn’s own Kevin Labanc tallied four assists. He is a crafty, hard working player with ties to Staten Island and New Jersey where he played for the Rockets. Timo Meier is an emerging star with great hands. Logan Couture remains a complete center, who is lethal in all situations. Joe Pavelski is older, but still is a royal pain in the ass in front.

It’s too bad Joe Thornton is out with an injury. He remains one of the game’s best passing big men. The future Hall of Famer still has something left.

Martin Jones is the starting goalie. He’s off to a slow start. Cancel that. It’ll be San Jose backup Aaron Dell, who goes for a second consecutive time. He got the win in a blowout win over Philly. So, the disrespect starts in Game 4.

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About Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.
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