TAMPA — The New York Rangers hit the road on Thursday to visit Rangers South, also known as the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The meeting at Amalie Arena features a matchup between the two teams that made the biggest deal at the trade deadline on Feb. 26
Tampa Bay acquired defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward J.T. Miller from the Rangers in exchange for Vladislav Namestnikov, two prospects and two picks.
The deal brought the number of former Rangers on the Lightning roster to five with Ryan Callahan, Anton Stralman, Dan Girardi, Miller and McDonagh. The five players combined to play 2,277 combined games in a Rangers sweater.
While Callahan, Stralman and Girardi, who signed as a free agent with Tampa Bay this summer after being bought out by the Rangers, have all faced their former team before, Thursday’s meeting will be the first for Miller, who has two goals and five points in four games with Tampa Bay since the trade.
But the Rangers’ blue line could get a boost with the possible return of Kevin Shattenkirk, who has been out since Jan. 22 after surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Shattenkirk took part in the team’s morning skate on Tuesday and is expected to join the team for the two-game trip through Florida, though no time table for his return has been established.
“Obviously we’re looking at the next couple weeks here,” New York head coach Alain Vigneault told the New York Post. “Won’t be a lot of practice time, but he is coming along real well, he’s been skating for a long time, his rehab is right where he is supposed to be.”
“I’ve gotten frustrated just for the fact that it feels like I always got to be the fall guy and every other guy has been deserving,” Lillard told ESPN.com. “In the past, the thing has been, ‘All right, my team has been 10 games under .500 or not in the playoffs,’ but every year we’ve found a way to be in the postseason, and this year I think we’re in much better position than we have been in the past two seasons that I didn’t make it.
“I think I’ve gotten over the emotional part of it the last few times that I didn’t make it. Now I’m kind of like expecting it to go that way, but I feel like I should be there.”