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Rangers head to the desert to take on Coyotes; Hayes and Hagelin developing chemistry

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers hi five line 2-4

The Rangers will look to close out their Fathers Trip with a win in Arizona in the first meeting between these first two teams this season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers (32-16-5) will spend Valentine’s Day in Glendale, Arizona, where the annual Fathers Trip will conclude following a matchup against the Arizona Coyotes (20-29-7). Rangers Head Coach Alain Vigneault is just one win shy of 500 for his career, a milestone that he would love to reach before heading back to New York.

The Coyotes are coming off of a loss to the San Jose Sharks last night, giving up four straight goals and losing their sixth consecutive game at the Gila River Arena.

Mark Arcobello, playing for his fourth team this season, scored his first goal as a member of the Coyotes last night, with Martin Erat adding the other goal for Arizona that night. Mike Smith started in net for the Coyotes, and the loss dropped his record to 10-24-5 this season.

Because Smith started last night, Arizona could go with Louis Domingue, who has made just one start in his NHL career. Domingue won that game, stopping 18 of the 20 shots he faced to take down the Montreal Canadiens. However, this has not been confirmed, so Smith could be back in net for the second time in two days.

The Coyotes, although they do not score a lot of goals, get a lot of production from their defensemen. Keith Yandle leads the team in points, with 40 points (4-36-40) this season. All-Star Oliver Ekman-Larsson has the most goals by a defenseman in the league, with 16 goals to go along with 12 assists.

Antoine Vermette is still a Coyote, put might not be for much longer. With an expiring contract and the Coyotes very unlikely to make the playoffs, he makes an attractive rental piece for many contending teams. Vermette is a faceoff specialist, has 12 goals and 22 assists this season, with half of those coming on the power play.

The Rangers are coming off of a crazy 6-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, their second straight win on the road trip. Cam Talbot had his best game since taking over as starter, and Kevin Hayes was the star of the night, recording his first career multipoint game and finishing with a +4 rating. Rick Nash scored an insurance goal to take over the league lead in goals with 34.

cam talbot 12-21

Cam Talbot had a really good game against the Avalanche, making 26 saves for his seventh win of the season. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Alain Vigneault confirmed that Cam Talbot will make his sixth consecutive start for the Rangers against Arizona. Talbot had a really strong showing against the Avalanche, making 26 saves en route to his seventh win of the season. Vigneault and the team has a ton of confidence in him, but they need to play better in front of Talbot, limiting the amount of open shots that he faces.

The Rangers got goals from Mats Zuccarello and Rick Nash on Thursday, who are both playing very well on the Rangers top line. Nash leads the NHL with 34 goals, and is having a really consistent year, scoring goals in 27 different games this season. Zuccarello’s goal against Colorado extended his point streak to 7 games, with four goals and five assists in that span.

Derick Brassard, the center on that top line, has also been playing very well, with seven points (1-6-7) in that span. Brassard is just one assist shy of tying his career high of 30, and is second on the team in points with 42 (13-29-42).

derick brassard 2-4

Derick Brassard is having what could be the best season of his career, anchoring the Rangers top line and sitting in second place on the team in scoring. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos,

 

Kevin Hayes had the best game of his young career on Thursday, scoring a goal and two assists and finishing with a +4 rating over the Avalanche. Hayes is playing his best hockey this season, with points in four straight games (2-4-6), and in six of his last seven games (3-5-8), as well as four goals in his last 10 games. Both Vigneault and Hagelin pointed out that he is playing with more pace in his game, and he is creating scoring chances for him and his linemates.

Hagelin has also benefited from Hayes’ increased production, and has played extremely well ever since scoring the overtime goal against the Ottawa Senators. Hagelin has a three game point streak, and has scored four times in the past eight games, as well as adding four assists in that same span. Hagelin’s shots on goal have greatly increased, and he has been part of a dangerous third line alongside Kevin Hayes and JT Miller, who has slotted in nicely on the right side.

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Carl Hagelin has been producing a lot more lately, picking up four goals and four assists in his last 10 games. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Vigneault said that he is still not sure who will be the sixth defenseman for tonight, part of the luxury of having seven healthy, effective defensemen. If I had to guess, it would be Matt Hunwick, who played really well alongside Dan Boyle on Thursday.

The Rangers and the Coyotes will face off at 8 PM tonight at the Gila River Arena. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINES (Not Confirmed)

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-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

Cam Talbot

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Posted on February 14, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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