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Rangers look to continue strong play and rebound against Colorado

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs avalanche 2-12

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Despite their strongest performance in at least a month, the Rangers (17-6-3) came up on the short end of the stick against the Islanders, and they’ll look to get back on track with a win over the Colorado Avalanche (10-14-1), sitting in last place in the Central Division.

The Rangers will be playing the second game of yet another back-to-back series, losing in the shootout in their first game at the Barclays Center. The Avalanche won their last game on Tuesday, coming away with a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils.

This is the second and final meeting between these two teams this season, and the only one at Madison Square Garden. New York came away with a 2-1 win in a goalie battle, as Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 29 shots while Avalanche goalie Reto Berra allowed just two goals on 35 shots. Derek Stepan and Oscar Lindberg scored for the Rangers, Ryan McDonagh had two assists, and Nathan McKinnon scored for the Avs.

Berra was in net for the Avalanche win against the Devils, turning aside 27 shots for his fifth win of the season. Semyon Varlamov has really struggled this season, and has gotten the majority of the starts lately. However, with his 3.28 GAA and a .887 save percentage, they may stick with Berra in this instance. In 13 appearances, 11 starts, Berra has a .927 save percentage and a 2.26 GAA.

November’s third star of the month was Colorado center Matt Duchene, leading the league with 11 goals that month and ranking second with 20 points, becoming the first Avs player to record 11 or more goals in a calendar month since Milan Hejduk scored 12 in February of 2003. Duchene carried that success into December, scoring the first goal of the game against the Devils. Look for his speed down the wings. Duchene leads the team with 13 goals and five power play goals.

Former Calder Trophy winner Nathan Mackinnon has picked up his production after a down season last year, already posting 24 points (10-14-24) through 25 games and leading the team in production. Captain Gabriel Landeskog has added 20 points (7-13-20), and seasoned veteran Jarome Iginla has contributed 16 points (8-8-16) and three power play goals.

After Henrik Lundqvist’s 36 save performance last night, Antti Raanta is expected to make his sixth start of the season. Raanta last started against the Flyers at home, making 31 saves in the first regulation loss on home ice in his career. Raanta has been superb this year, with a 1.36 GAA and a .952 save percentage, and he’ll be counted on again tonight.

antti raanta save 11-28

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Last night showcased the strength and depth of the bottom six. The top line had a rough night with possession and scoring chances, but the fourth line shined.

Jarret Stoll shadowed John Tavares effectively the entire night, and didn’t allow him to do anything at even strength. The forechecking was excellent, they generated some good chances, and Viktor Stalberg scored the lone goal.

The third line was also phenomenal, with Tanner Glass taking Emerson Etem’s spot, playing alongside JT Miller and Oscar Lindberg. All three players finished positively in corsi for, and the trio executed some excellent passes that led to good scoring chances.

Tanner Glass played the best game of his Rangers career, posting a +7 in corsi for, recording three shots on goal and five hits in 10:01 of ice time. If he was a better shooter, he would have had a one-timer goal from the right circle. He played well enough to warrant a start tonight as well, but he needs to play like THAT Tanner Glass every single night. No more possession black hole, bad defensive coverage fourth liner anymore, because a young prospect with a lot of potential is sitting in the press box as a result. So play well.

Rick Nash has now been held without a point in three straight games after scoring in four consecutive games. The top line wasn’t that strong last night, and they need to be counted on to score more goals. Last night is a perfect example of a game that could have been won if the top guns came to play.

Kevin Hayes is the second line center until Derek Stepan, and he hasn’t been all that effective. It’s a bit of a sophomore slump for the second year player, and he isn’t having the same impact as he had last season. Hayes needs to be an impact player.

kevin hayes backhand pass 12-2

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

Both teams are horrible possession teams, so it should be interesting seeing who comes out on top. New York was positive last game, and they could really dominate tonight if they play a similar style in the Islanders game.

The Rangers and the Avalanche 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-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass-Oscar Lindberg-JT Miller

Dominic Moore-Jarret Stoll-Viktor Stalberg

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Dylan McIlrath

Antti Raanta

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Posted on December 3, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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