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Rangers look to start a win streak against the Hurricanes; Kreider questionable

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs hurricanes faceoff 11-30

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After a dominating win over Vancouver on Tuesday, the Rangers (25-16-5) will look to start a win streak for the first time in two months when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes (21-19-8) down in Raleigh for a Metropolitan Division showdown.

What would have normally been an unimportant, throwaway game against the Rangers and a Carolina team that’s usually low in the standings actually has some meaning now. In a weak Eastern Conference, the Canes have managed to bring themselves to within three points of a wild card spot, and they’re only five points behind the Rangers, although New York has two games in hand.

Despite the heavy snow and ice storm in Raleigh, the Hurricanes have announced that the game is still going on as scheduled. Don’t expect a big crowd in the stands though, with many Carolina area fans tweeting out that they wouldn’t be able to make the trip to the game.

This is the third of four meetings between these two teams, and the first matchup in Carolina. The Rangers won the first two games this season, including a 4-3 win in the last game at MSG on November 30th. Seven different Rangers have tallied a goal in the two games, and five Rangers skaters recorded two points.

This game starts a stretch of three games in four nights for the Rangers before the All-Star Break. And while they haven’t been able to string together wins, and they’re near the bottom in points collected since early December, this presents a good opportunity. The next three games (Hurricanes, Senators, Sabres) come against beatable teams, and the next eight games are against pretty weak competition for the most part. The Rangers need to collect as many points as possible in this span.

The Rangers have typically dominated the Hurricanes for the past five years or so. New York has won eight straight meetings against Carolina, and they’re 18-1-0 in the last 19 meetings dating back to February 22 of 2011.

The Hurricanes will be playing the second game of a back-to-back after grinding out a 1-0 overtime win over the Maple Leafs last night. Jordan Staal scored his third overtime goal of the season and Eddie Lack turned aside all 32 shots he faced for his first shutout in Carolina.

Cam Ward is still sidelined with a concussion, which makes tonight’s goalie decision tough for Bill Peters. Lack had a heavy workload last night, but their backup is Daniel Altschuller, who has played just 11 AHL games in his career. The 21 year old netminder has been really good for the Charlotte Checkers, posting a 9-1-1 record along with a .941 save percentage and a 1.72 GAA.

Justin Fault continues to be Carolina’s best player. The defenseman is having a fantastic season, already scoring 14 goals and leading the team with 33 points. Twelve of those goals have come on the power play, so the Rangers will need to be very careful when killing penalties, and area where they’ve struggled this season.

Viktor Rask has turned into one of Carolina’s best young players. The second round draft pick in 2011 is very well rounded, with smart, creative playmaking abilities on offense as well as solid defensive play. Rask has equaled last season’s goal total (11) and sits just five points shy of his 33 point total that he put up last season.

Just like the Rangers have dominated Carolina, Henrik Lundqvist has also dominated the Canes. In his last 16 games against them dating back to January 5, 2011, he’s 14-2-0 with a 1.71 GAA, a 9.945 save percentage and a shutout. He was solid against the Canucks, and is searching for his 22nd win of the season.

Tonight, Dan Girardi will skate in his 800th game as a member of the Blueshirts, becoming the 10th player to accomplish that feat. Girardi had a strong game overall against the Canucks, posting a very good Corsi rating, playing solid defense and moving the puck well. The Rangers need that from him every night, so hopefully he starts playing well consistently.

 

Viktor Stalberg has quietly been playing very well lately. It unfortunately hasn’t translated into stats, where he’s been held pointless for the last five games, but it’s certainly not because of his play. He was robbed by Ryan Miller twice, and both should have been goals. He’s been quick, effective, generating scoring chances and playing very well. He’s my player to watch.

Mats Zuccarello ended his scoring drought when he scored the tying goal in the third period, his 17th of the season, giving him 34 points and two points (1-1-2) in the last two games. This could be exactly what he needed to get going again. Zuccs has also tallied 17 points (2-15-17) in 17 games against Carolina, including an 11 game point streak (1-12-13) dating back to January of 2013.

Chris Kreider skated this morning after missing practice with neck spasms. He said that he skated fine, but his neck was a bit sore still. AV will brief and discuss lineups at 5 PM.

Since Jayson Megna was sent back down to Hartford, Daniel Paille would make his Rangers debut if Kreider was injured. I’d prefer to see him play in place of Tanner Glass anyway, but I’m not sure if that will happen.

The Rangers and the Hurricanes will faceoff at 7 PM at the PNC Arena. The game will be broadcasted on MSG 2.

POTENTIAL LINEUPS (Not Confirmed)

JT Miller-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash

Oscar Lindberg-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Viktor Stalberg

Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Klein

Keith Yandle-Daniel Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on January 22, 2016, in Game Previews, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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