Rangers need a big rebound win at home against the Hurricanes
“When you lose one, let alone two, you push the urgency button. Three is not acceptable for a team of our caliber.”
Those were the words that Rick Nash told reporters following the Rangers (16-6-2) following their shutout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden this Saturday, recording just 24 shots on goal, including 14 over the last 40 minutes. They’ll look to avoid a four game losing streak when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes (8-11-4) at the Garden tonight.
The Rangers are closing out the month of November, looking to end it on a high note. It’s been a successful month, with the team posting a 9-4 record, but they have lost three straight games in regulation, two of those coming on home ice. In those games, they’ve been outscored 12-4, with seven of those goals coming in the third period, a big surprise based on the team’s play in the third period all season long.
They’re in the midst of a stretch of nine games in fifteen days, and they’re closing out the final third with three games in the next four nights, with two games against the Islanders and Avalanche waiting for them on Wednesday and Thursday.
This is the second of four games between the Rangers and Hurricanes, and the last that will take place at MSG. The Rangers won 3-0 back on November 10th, getting goals from Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash and Jesper Fast as well as 33 saves from Henrik Lundqvist.
New York have won their last 10 home games against the Carolina Hurricanes, dating back to January, 2011, allowing just nine goals in those games. Overall, they’ve won 17 of the last 18 games against the ‘Canes, outscoring them 61-29.
In the only matchup between the teams this season, the Rangers managed to win despite playing the type of game that has gotten them in trouble lately. New York was outshot 33-23, and only mustered three shots on goal in the first period. However, they scored on two of those shots, and got great goaltending to seal the victory.
The Hurricanes record doesn’t impress, but they are generally pretty competitive in all of their matchups. Historically, the Rangers have dominated this matchup, but the ‘Canes could give them some trouble. Vigneault’s team has really struggled with possession and giving up too many quality shot attempts, and Carolina is an excellent possession team (55.2 CF%).
The problem with the Hurricanes is that they lack a true goal scorer or ‘finisher’ on their team. Justin Faulk is their young, star defenseman, posting 18 points (8-10-18) already, with all eight goals coming on the power play. Kris Versteeg has been a nice surprise, totaling 14 points (2-12-14), and Viktor Rask leads the team in goal scoring, finding the back of the net seven times.
Cam Ward is expected to get the start tonight, looking to bounce back after allowing three goals on 14 shots against the Sabres on Friday. The 2006 Conn Smythe Trophy winner is 7-7-3 with a 2.44 GAA and a .903 save percentage.
Henrik Lundqvist will be back in night for the Rangers tonight after Antti Raanta’s strong performance against the Flyers. Despite allowing nine goals in his last two starts, a lot of the fault going on the horrendous defensive performance in front of him, Lundqvist is still second in the league in save percentage (.936) and wins (12), as well as sixth in GAA (2.05).
In his last 15 games against Carolina, Lundqvist is 13-2-0 with a 1.62 goals against average as well as a .947 save percentage.
As far as offensive production goes, all eyes will be on the second line, particularly Chris Kreider. Kreider has not had a good start to the season, scoring just three times and setting a pace for 10 goals this season. Now, without his usual center in Derek Stepan and a new line, the team will look to him to start supplying some goals. Carolina doesn’t have great defensemen, so Kreider should look to use his speed down the wings.
There is a lot of pressure on his linemates too, Kevin Hayes and Emerson Etem. Hayes has played a lot of center, so he’ll try to use his playmaking and passing abilities to start getting production from his wingers. Emerson Etem has had a massive opportunity presented to him, now a top six winger and an everyday player. If there’s a time for his scoring ability from junior hockey and the AHL to shine through, it’s now. I think this line will break out tonight.
Mats Zuccarello has been outstanding this season leading the team with 10 goals and 21 points. He has been held pointless in the last four games, so I’m expecting that to change. With Rick Nash on his line, who has been scoring a lot lately, I think those two will combine for a goal.
The defense needs to get much better. I wrote a lot about it in my rant article yesterday (HERE), so go check that out if you haven’t already. They’re allowing too many high quality shots, they aren’t getting the puck out of the defensive zone and they’re blowing defensive coverages. Get better.
Special teams will play a huge role tonight. Despite Justin Faulk’s eight power play goals, the Hurricanes rank 30th in the NHL with a 13.0% power play success rate. They’re also 25th on the penalty kill (76.5%), and with the Rangers power play heating up as of late, they need to exploit that weakness.
As for lineup changes, the forwards are the same and the team won’t call anyone up due to cap restrictions. Dylan McIlrath has been very good these last two games, but I don’t think AV will sit Boyle for three games.
The Rangers and the Hurricanes will face off at MSG at 7 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.
Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider-Kevin Hayes-Emerson Etem
JT Miller-Oscar Lindberg-Jesper Fast
Jarret Stoll-Dominic Moore-Viktor Stalberg
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Kevin Klein
Keith Yandle-Dan Boyle
Posted on November 30, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged Alain Vigneault, Antti Raanta, Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes, Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derick Brassard, Derick Stepan, Dominic Moore, Dylan McIlrath, Emerson Etem, Henrik Lundqvist, Jarret Stoll, Jesper Fast, JT Miller, Justin Faulk, Keith Yandle, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Mats Zuccarello, MSG, New York Rangers, New York Rangers blog, Noah Hanifin, NYR, Oscar Lindberg, Rangers, Rangers blog, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Stepan injury, Viktor Stalberg. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.