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Rangers look to continue home ice success against the Canucks

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs canucks 2-19

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Home sweet home.

That’s what the Rangers (24-16-5) must be thinking after another unsuccessful road trip, going 1-2-0 and failing to win back-to-back games yet again. While the road trips have not been successful, they’ve been much better on home ice, which is where they will face the Vancouver Canucks (19-17-10) for the final time this season.

The Ranger’s 5-2 loss in the nation’s capital gave them a record of 2-9-2 in their last 13 road games, but they’ve been really good at home despite their mediocre play since early December. In the last seven games, at MSG, the Blueshirts are 5-1-1. Going back even further, they’re 15-4-1 in their last 20 home games. Needless to say, being back at MSG is a good thing for a struggling Rangers team.

This is the second and final matchup between these two teams this season, and the only one at MSG. The Canucks won the first game back on December 9th, and that really kick started the Rangers downfall. Alexander Edler and Daniel Sedin both had a goal and an assist and Ryan Miller made 32 saves to guide Vancouver to the win.

The Canucks are also playing pretty well recently too, posting a 5-2-1 record in their last eight games. But with the Colorado Avalanche surging in the standings, the Canucks find themselves on the outside of the playoff race, sitting one point out of the final Wild Card spot. So they’ll be looking to get every point possible.

And the Canucks are very good at getting points at every game. Vancouver has gone to overtime in 17 of their games this season, and the fact that 10 of their losses have come in overtime is a big reason why they’re still in the playoff race.

When thinking of Vancouver, the Sedin twins always come to mind. Daniel and Henrik have led the team for years, and they’re the top two scorers again this year. Daniel has scored 19 goals and 41 points while Henrik leads the team in assists (28) while also adding nine goals.

A few weeks ago, Emerson was playing under Alain Vigneault for the Rangers. Now he will be playing against the team he started the season with, and playing under his coach from junior hockey. Etem has skated in four games so far with no points, but he’s getting upwards of 12 or 13 minutes a night in a much more consistent role. Since he’s a former Ranger coming up against the Blueshirts, he’ll probably score a goal because that tends to happen a lot.

Ryan Miller schooled the Rangers in the first matchup, turning aside 32 of the 33 shots he faced for the win. Miller is 11-12-6 along with a 2.68 GAA and a .913 save percentage in 30 starts.

Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net for the Rangers after getting Sunday night off, and he’s been showing signs of getting back on track. Lundqvist has been fantastic in his last three starts, stopping 95 of the 100 shots that he’s faced, including a 34 save performance in the win against the Flyers. Henrik made 23 saves in the loss to Vancouver in December.

The Rangers are finally starting to get some steady production from Chris Kreider, something that they’ve desperately needed from the Boston College product. Kreider scored two goals against the Capitals and looked effective all night long playing with JT Miller and Mats Zuccarello. When he’s at his best, defenses can’t handle his speed and strength and he creates breakaways at will. Kreider will look to extend his point streak (3-1-4) to four games.

His linemate Derek Stepan hasn’t fared as well lately. Although he has an assist in the last two games, Stepan hasn’t scored in five games, but he has just five points (2-3-5) in the last 14 games. He’s a big money player and the second line center. The Rangers need more from him.

It’s also time for Rick Nash and Mats Zuccarello to break out of their goal droughts. Both of them have been held off the board since December 30th. While Nash has five assists in those last seven games, and he’s been contributing in other ways, but Zuccarello has been very quiet lately, posting just two assists in those games. Those two are my players to watch for today’s game.

As for lineup changes, it is unsure if Kevin Klein will play at this time. It could be a game time decision similar to the situation in the game against the Capitals on Sunday. McIlrath skated in his place, logging 13:09 of ice time and finishing with no points and a plus one rating.

Also, Derick Brassard did not participate in the morning skate because of an illness. He will likely be a game time decision.

The Rangers and the Canucks will face off at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. The game will take place on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINEUP

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash

JT Miller-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Oscar Lindberg-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Viktor Stalberg

Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Klein

Keith Yandle-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on January 19, 2016, in Game Previews, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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