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Rangers set for surging Hurricanes team at MSG

Bobby Bevilacqua

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The Rangers will look to end their two game losing streak when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes at Madison Square Garden. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

With two straight losses since the All Star Break, the Rangers (27-15-4) will continue their homestand against the last-place Carolina Hurricanes (17-25-6), a team that has been playing much better as of late, with a 7-2-1 record in the team’s last 10 games.

It will be the fourth matchup between the teams this season, and the Rangers will look to remain perfect against Carolina this season after winning the first three games. The Rangers picked up their first home win of the season against Carolina on October 16th, edging the Canes 2-1 in a shootout. New York then swept both games of a home-and-home, winning 3-2 in a shootout in Raleigh before picking up a 1-0 shutout victory at Madison Square Garden.

Carolina was plagued with injuries to begin the season, but since getting both Staal brothers back in the lineup, as well as other pieces, the entire team has benefitted. In 11 games since returning to the lineup, Jordan Staal, the younger brother of Carolina Captain Eric Staal and Rangers defenseman Marc Staal, has tallied eight points (1-7-8), as well as four points in the last two games. Jordan Staal is a strong defensive forward and a four-time 20 goal scorer, so he is certainly a player that will have an impact on the ice.

The Captain Eric Staal leads the team with 30 points (16-14-30) in 43 games, but the play of All Star defenseman Justin Faulk has been even more impressive. The 22-year-old has accumulated 29 points (10-19-29) in all 48 of the Hurricanes games this season, providing the production from the back end that is important to every team.

Tonight’s game marks the start of a four game road trip for the Canes after losing a heart breaker at home last night, falling in the shootout 3-2 to the St. Louis Blues. Anton Khudobin started last night, but was pulled in favor of Cam Ward after allowing a pair of early goals. Hurricanes Head Coach Bill Peters did not say who would get the start on Saturday night.

After flying through the month of December, as well as early January, the Rangers have struggled mightily in their past seven games, scoring one goal or fewer in four of those games, and posting a 3-4-0 record in that span. The Rangers will be looking to avoid their first three game losing streak since early November.

New York lost to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday by a final score of 1-0, giving the team just one goal in their last six periods of play. Henrik Lundqvist took the blame for the team’s only goal, despite playing extremely well throughout the night.

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Henrik Lundqvist was strong against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, but the one goal he allowed was too much for the Rangers to overcome. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Alain Vingeault attempted to make lineup changes to the third and fourth lines to try and generate more production, but to no avail. The bottom-six forwards generated just four shots on goal on Thursday, and were largely unnoticeable throughout the night. Vigneault mentioned that he may make some lineup changes, but did not elaborate.

One of the lineup changes that should be made is reinserting JT Miller into the lineup. Alain Vigneault decided to stick with Tanner Glass against the Montreal Canadiens, as well as against the Islanders, and he continues to contribute nothing to the offensive part of the game. JT Miller has five goals, one of them coming against the Hurricanes, and 5 assists this season, and could contribute to the struggling power play.

Speaking of the power play, which was very effective throughout the month of December and early January, has floundered lately, scoring just twice in their last 22 opportunities. The Rangers will need players like Dan Boyle, Martin St. Louis, and Derick Brassard to cash in on the power play opportunities that are handed to them against Carolina.

One player that could really help out the Rangers is their leading goal scorer, Rick Nash. Nash enters tonight’s game with 28 goals, tied for first in the NHL, but has scored in just one of the last seven games, when he tallied two goals against the Penguins on January 18th. Nash has been held without a goal in all three games against the Hurricanes this season, but will be looking to change that tonight.

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Rick Nash leads the team with 28 goals, but has not scored in the last three games. The struggling Rangers could really use a big night from Nash to get back on track. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Rangers will also be looking for Mats Zuccarello to contribute, with just one goal in his last 18 games. Zuccarello is skating on the top line, and needs to start playing like a first liner.

Henrik Lundqvist is likely to start tonight for New York.

The Rangers will face off against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Networks.

I will be at the game wearing my Derick Brassard Heritage jersey, and will be sitting in Section 207, Row 4, Seat 13. If you’re at the game, feel free to come and say hi!

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Posted on January 31, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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