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Hurricane Warning; Rangers back at MSG to take on Carolina, Nash “good to go”

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs hurricanes faceoff 1-31

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Rangers (10-2-2) are back on home ice after sweeping their brief two game road trip, facing off against the Carolina Hurricanes (6-8-0), the first of four games between these Metropolitan Division foes.

New York has had tremendous success against Carolina in the past few years, winning all five games against them last season, outscoring the Hurricanes 13-5. Four of the five wins were one goal games, with three of the games ending in a shootout.

The Rangers are off to their best start through 14 games in franchise history, posting an impressive 10-2-2 record with 22 points, sitting atop the Metropolitan Division and winning five straight games. They’ve picked up a point in nine consecutive games, going 7-0-2 following their loss to the Montreal Canadiens on October 15th.

The Rangers +17 goal differential is second in the NHL, behind only Montreal and their absurd +30 differential. They’re averaging exactly 3.00 goals per game, and they’re allowing just 1.79 goals against per game thanks to the goalie duo on Henrik Lundqvist and Antti Raanta.

henrik lundqvist and antti raanta 10-19

These two are a big reason for the Rangers success. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

The Hurricanes got off a rough start to the season, but have rebounded as of late, winning four of their last six games. In their last game, a 3-2 overtime win against the Ottawa Senators, Jeff Skinner tied the game with 3.3 seconds remaining before Jordan Staal sealed the victory in overtime.

Despite trading for Eddie Lack in the offseason, Carolina is going with longtime Hurricane Cam Ward as the starting netminder. Ward is 5-5-0 in 11 games this season, carrying a 2.40 GAA and a .907 save percentage.

The Hurricanes’ leading scorer this season is Kris Versteeg, acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks during the offseason in a multi-player trade. Versteeg is enjoying a bigger role in Carolina on the third line, tallying two goals and eight assists through 14 games. Eric Staal has four goals and five assists.

On defense, Justin Faulk continues to log huge minutes and put up points, already scoring five goals and adding four assists, tied for 14th in the league in defensemen scoring. Rookie and fifth overall pick Noah Hanifin has tallied two assists in just over 15 minutes of ice time. He also has 55.76% corsi for at even strength.

After getting the night off against Arizona, Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be back in goal for the Rangers tonight. Lundqvist has been tremendous this season, allowing more than two goals just once in 11 starts. Lundqvist has won his last three starts, allowing five goals on 89 shots against. His .945 save percentage leads the league, and he’s currently third in the NHL with a 1.80 GAA.

In 30 appearances against Carolina, Henrik is 20-9-1 with a 2.09 GAA, a .926 save percentage and one shutout.

Rick Nash missed the last two games with a strained back, but he said that he’s “good to go” for tonight’s game. Nash, a 42 goal scorer last year, has scored just one goal this season, an empty netter, as well as five assists. He’s still been driving possession, and while he’s clearly not playing up to his capabilities, Nash seems to be right on the cusp on breaking out.

rick nash full body 10-22

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

During the Rangers nine game stretch with at least a point, one of the biggest reasons for the Rangers success has been their depth. The last nine goals scored have been scored by nine different players. Even better is the fact that all four lines have been scoring lately.

Kevin Hayes has been one of those depth players that’s providing Vigneault with scoring from the bottom six. Since being moved back to center, he’s thrived, able to control the flow of play and dictate how the line runs. Hayes has four points (2-2-4) in the last three games, helped by the offensive outburst from Oscar Lindberg. Lindberg is tied with Max Domi for the most goals by a rookie (7), and he’s fourth in points with 11.

Dan Boyle will remain in the lineup on defense, while Dylan McIlrath remains a healthy scratch. Boyle recently discussed what’s going on with his game and why he is struggling, talking about limiting the mental errors and regaining his confidence. Nobody likes to miss games, and AV said that it’s important to keep him fresh, rested, and get McIlrath some games.

Boyle needs to start playing better and scoring points. Not just for the team, but for himself. There’s a legitimate chance that McIlrath could usurp his position and start getting a consistent amount of games. To regain the trust of Alain Vigneault, Boyle needs to start putting up more points, hitting the net with his shots, and executing outlet passes well.

Apart from Rick Nash, AV also surprisingly scratched Dominic Moore today, keeping Emerson Etem in on the fourth line. Vigneault said he wants to see Stoll with two natural wingers, rather than two centers on the line. I don’t really agree with this, since Moore is the better player, both offensively and defensively, and he’s been a huge part of this team for two and a half years. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m not a fan.

The Rangers and the Hurricanes will face off at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG 2.

EXPECTED LINES

Rick Nash- Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-JT Miller

Oscar Lindberg-Kevin Hayes-Viktor Stalberg

Emerson Etem-Jarret Stoll-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Kevin Klein

Keith Yandle-Dan Boyle

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on November 10, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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