Rangers look for season series sweep in Carolina; Talbot in net for New York
Following Wednesdays 1-0 home ice loss to the Blackhawks, the Rangers (44-18-7) are in Raleigh, North Carolina to take on the Hurricanes (26-35-9) for the fifth and final matchup of the season, and the first game of a back-to-back for New York.
While the Rangers have been streaking, fighting for the top spot in the NHL, the Hurricanes have struggled for most of the season, sitting in last place in the Metropolitan Division and third to last in the Eastern Conference, and scoring the third fewest goals in the entire league.
With that in mind, Saturday is almost a must-win for the Rangers, presenting an opportunity to earn a huge two points in the standings, and keep them in a fighting chance in the President’s trophy race, and the top spot in the Eastern Conference.
This is the fifth and final meeting between these two times, with the Rangers winning all four of those games, outscoring the Canes 10-4 in those games. The last game was on January 31st, the game that Henrik Lundqvist took a puck to the throat. The Rangers won that game 4-1, with Dominic Moore scoring shorthanded, and Rick Nash, Chris Kreider, and Dan Boyle adding the other three goals.
Cam Ward will probably be the goalie for Carolina tonight. Ward is having a decent year, posting an 18-21-5 record alongside a .910 save percentage and a 2.44 GAA. He has been sitting with flu-like symptoms, and his last start was March 14th, where he got a loss despite allowing just one goal.
Justin Faulk, Carolina’s 22 year old defenseman, is having the best season of his young career, turning heads in the Norris Trophy race despite being on a bad team. Faulk has 45 points (14-31-45) this season, which is really solid for a defenseman, and tied for 10th in the NHL in scoring for defenseman. Faulk also has seven power play goals, helping boost Carolina to 9th in the league on the man advantage (19.3%).
Cam Talbot will be back in net for the Rangers, making his 20th start in the last 22 games, and posting a 13-3-3 record since taking over as starter. The Rangers are 6-1-1 in the last eight games, and has allowed more than one goal in a game in regulation in the month of March, with a lot of that a direct result of Talbot’s play. He has the chance to pick up his 18th win of the season tonight.
Derek Stepan has been struggling as of late, going without a goal in 13 straight games, and without a point in the last 11. Alongside Rick Nash and Chris Kreider, who are in seven and four game goal droughts, respectively, Stepan had a good game on Wednesday, firing six shots on goal. This trio is too good to stay quiet for long, and I think tonight is the night they can break out for some points. Getting Stepan in top form for the playoffs is crucial. Stepan has 17 points (8-9-17) in 18 career games against Carolina.
JT Miller will be skating alongside Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello, with Kevin Hayes shifting back to the center position. Brassard and Zuccarello also haven’t been scoring a lot of goals lately, but continue to rack up assists. Both are excellent playmakers, and should be able to get Miller some quality chances today. A goal or two, as well as more minutes, could boost Miller’s confidence, and he is my player to watch tonight.
The Rangers and the Hurricanes will face off at the PNC Arena at 7 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG+.
EXPECTED LINES (Not Confirmed)
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
JT Miller-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast
Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-James Sheppard
Marc Staal-Ryan McDonagh
Keith Yandle-Dan Girardi
Matt Hunwick-Dan Boyle
Posted on March 21, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged Alain Vigneault, Cam Talbot, Carl Hagelin, Carolina Hurricanes, Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, Henrik Lundqvist, James Sheppard, Jesper Fast, JT Miller, Justin Faulk, Keith Yandle, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, King Henrik, 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. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.