Rangers look for a more complete effort in Colorado; Top line of utmost importance
With some of the player’s fathers along for the ride, the Rangers (31-16-5) will continue their road trip out in Denver, Colorado where they will take on the Avalanche (22-21-11), a team that is trying to stay relevant in the Western Conference.
The Annual Father’s trip started off pretty well, albeit it a rollercoaster game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, with the Rangers coming away with a 4-4 victory. Mats Zuccarello was the Rangers best player, scoring two goals, including a perfect wrist shot for the game winner. Rick Nash, who is normally the one scoring goals, was the playmaker for the night, tallying three assists, the first time he has done so since 2009. Derick Brassard also added two assists, breaking the 40 point mark in arguably the best start to a season in his NHL career.
Cam Talbot started in net for the Rangers, but did not have his greatest outing. He surrendered four goals on 33 shots, and admitted to wanting the second goal back in a postgame interview. However, he was able to hold down the fort well enough for the win, getting his second win since starter, and picking up five out of a possible eight points in that game. Tonight Talbot will likely be more focused, trying to sharpen up his game and earn his seventh win of the season in the process.
This is the second and final game of the season between the Rangers and the Avalanche. Back on November 13th, the Rangers surrendered a third period lead, and lost in a shootout by a final score of 4-3. Eight different Rangers picked up a point, with Kevin Hayes, Dan Girardi, and Derek Stepan scoring the goals. Stepan also added an assist in the contest.
The Avalanche’s playoff hopes are dwindling, currently sitting eight points out of the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. The have losses in their last three games, two by shutout, outscored 9-3, and are in the midst of a 0-27 streak on the power play. With this in mind, the Avs may be vulnerable, but they will certainly be playing with some desperation.
Under second year head coach Patrick Roy, the Avalanche can also play an up-tempo game, especially with a player like Matt Duchene, who has 33 points (14-19-33) this season.
One of the surprise standouts in Colorado is Jarome Iginla, who is second on the team in points with sixteen goals, the most on the team, and 19 assists. He was brought in primarily for veteran leadership, but instead has been a force on offense. He may not be the quickest player, but his 19 NHL seasons have given him quite a good understanding of the game, and he plays smart.
Although his numbers are not as good as last season, Semyon Varlamov is a very good goaltender, and will likely be tough to score against. Varlamov is 14-13-7 with a 2.58 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
The Rangers will need to match Colorado’s desperation if they want to come away with another road win. The Rangers have fared well away from Madison Square Garden, going 14-9-1 on the road this season, including seven wins in their last 10 road games (7-3-0).
The Rangers top line of Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, and Mats Zuccarello was reunited for the game against Toronto, and they did not disappoint. Zuccarello’s goals extended his point streak to six games, tied for a career high, with three goals and five assists in that span. Brassard has six points (1-5-6) in his last five games, and 24 points (7-17-24) in his last 28 games. Simply put, Rick Nash has been incredible, tied for the league lead in goals with 33, and totaling 52 points (33-19-52) in 52 games.
This trio was also kept together on the top power play unit, with Zuccarello sliding into the slumping Martin St. Louis’ slot. Needless to say, they will be extremely important today.
Kevin Hayes is also in the midst of a point streak, with his eighth goal of the season on Tuesday extending it to three games. Hayes continues to improve throughout the year, making better decisions on both sides of the puck, and playing well defensively too. He has also found chemistry alongside Carl Hagelin, who has stepped up his game lately.
Against the Maple Leafs, the Rangers fourth line was very strong, including a shorthanded goal from Dominic Moore. They were able to create extended offensive chances off of the forecheck, and had a few good chances. I expect that to continue against the Avalanche, with either Dominic Moore, Lee Stempniak, or Tanner Glass scoring a goal in the game.
Although Dan Boyle’s season has been disappointing at times, marred by injuries and inconsistencies, but he has gotten it together lately, with three goals in his last six games. He has discussed how he is still working on fitting into the system, where defensemen are asked to make outlet passes rather than carry the puck themselves, but with his defensive play starting to get better as well, Boyle could become a bigger threat down the stretch. He was also demoted to the second power play unit, which will hopefully light a fire underneath him to perform there as well.
The only lineup change is on defense, with Matt Hunwick likely to slide into the third pairing for John Moore. Hunwick spent parts of four seasons with the Avalanche.
The Ranger and the Avalanche will face off at the Pepsi Center at 9 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.
EXPECTED LINEUP (Not Confirmed)
Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Chris Krieder-Derek Stepan-Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-JT Miller
Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Lee Stempniak
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Kevin Klein
Matt Hunwick-Dan Boyle
Posted on February 12, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged Alain Vigneault, Cam Talbot, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Colorado Avalanche, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, Henrik Lundqvist, James Reimer, Jesper Fast, John Moore, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, King Henrik, Lee Stempniak, Mackenzie Skapski, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Hunwick, MSG, MSL, New York Rangers, NHL, NHL 2014-2015 Season, NY Rangers, NYR, Rangers, Rangers Nation, Rangerstown, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Tanner Glass, The Ranger Zone, Toronto Maple LEafs. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.