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Beasts of the East face off as the Rangers take on the Montreal Canadiens

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs canadiens faceoff 10-15

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After taking down a strong but struggling Nashville Predator’s squad on Monday, the Rangers (16-3-2) take on the Atlantic Division leading Montreal Canadiens (16-4-2), a battle of two teams tied for the league lead in points.

Montreal and Boston has always been a heated rivalry, but the disdain between the Canadiens and Rangers is starting to grow. Following the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals, where Carey Price got injured and the Rangers won in six games to reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 20 years, these teams have played some close games with hard hitting, fights and a lot of fun action.

This is the second of three games between these two Original Six teams, and the first at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers were shutout 3-0 at the Bell Centre, and Henrik Lundqvist’s 29 saves were not good enough to fend off a ferocious Canadiens attack.

Carey Price made 25 stops in that game for his first shutout of the season, and Montreal’s fifth straight win to begin the season. He suffered an injury during the season, forcing Mike Condon to step into a starting role for a brief time, but Price is back and healthy for today’s game.

The Habs suffered a massive injury in their most recent game against the Islanders, losing Brendan Gallagher for an undetermined amount of time after the winger broke two of his fingers blocking a shot. The 23 year old forward was tied with PK Subban for third on the team in scoring with 19 points (9-10-19).

Luckily for the Canadiens, they have a lot of options when it comes to scoring goals, and they’re tied with the Dallas Stars for the most goals in the league (78). Captain Max Pacioretty leads the team with his 11 goals, and Tomas Plekanek is tied for first with 20 points (7-13-20). PK Subban leads the team with 18 assists.

Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie on the planet right now. He leads the NHL in wins (12), goals against average (1.74), and save percentage (.946) after picking his second shutout of the season in a 31 save performance against Nashville. Henrik has bailed the Rangers out quite a few times this season, covering up turnovers and poor decisions. He’ll play a major part in this game as well.

henrik lundqvist side profile 10-22

Carey Price vs. Henrik Lundqvist. Should be a good one. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Rick Nash looks to be returning to the form he was in last season. He’s been using his strength to get to the front of the net, and is finally scoring from medium range with his wrist shot. His goal against Nashville was an example of what he can do when he uses his size along the boards and then gets down the ice quickly.

If Rick Nash starts scoring consistently again, it will be Derick Brassard and Mats Zuccarello that benefit the most. Brassard has a modest four points (2-2-4) in the last nine games, and he’s long overdue for a big game. Mats Zuccarello was held pointless on Monday, and that doesn’t happen much either. So I think he’ll collect a point or two.

Vigneault is still looking for someone to fulfil the scoring role needed on the second line right wing. Kevin Hayes took that spot again, coming through with a goal and an assist. Hayes is immensely talented, but hasn’t played to his full capabilities yet this season. If Chris Kreider isn’t going to do anything, Kevin Hayes needs to step up in a big way.

kevin hayes goal celebration 11-23

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

If the Rangers want to win, STAY OUT OF THE BOX. Montreal has the third best power play in the league (24.4%) and even though New York has the third best penalty kill (86.1), it’s not something you want to rely on.

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

EXPECTED LINES

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Kevin Hayes

JT Miller-Oscar Lindberg-Jesper Fast

Jarret Stoll-Dominic Moore-Viktor Stalberg

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on November 25, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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