Rangers take on the Canucks as road trip continues; Nieves expected to make NHL debut

Bobby Bevilacqua


Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

Following a grind-it-out type of win over the Oilers with just 17 skaters being used, the Rangers (12-4-0) continue their road trip in western Canada as they take on the Vancouver Canucks (6-9-1) in their search for a three game win streak.

The Rangers have been red hot lately, winning 11 of their last 14 games (11-3-0), including seven of their last eight games. Michael Grabner’s two goals against Edmonton gave him 10 on the season, and Dan Girardi netted his third of the season. Antti Raanta made 38 saves in a spectacular performance to improve to 4-0-0.

The Rangers only loss in their last eight games came at the hands of the Canucks, who beat the Rangers, 5-3, at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 8. Pavel Buchnevich had three points (1-2-3) while Rick Nash scored his 400th goal as a Ranger and Mika Zibanejad scored in the dying minutes. Henrik Sedin had a goal and an assist, and Loui Eriksson scored his first goal of the season. Jacob Markstrom made 23 saves in the win.

The Canucks split their goalies’ starts pretty evenly, so it’s not known if Ryan Miller or Jacob Markstrom will start. Miller played in the Canucks’ 5-4 overtime winner against the Stars, making 17 saves in the win. Miller is 2-7-0 with a 2.92 GAA and a .899 save percentage, while Markstrom is 4-2-1 with a 2.23 GAA and a .915 save percentage.

The Canucks have had a lot of trouble scoring, but it helps that Loui Eriksson is starting to figure things out. He finally scored a goal, and has two in his last three games. After scoring 30 goals and 63 points last season with the Bruins, he’s being counted on as a big piece of Vancouver’ offense.

Despite being 36 years old, the Sedin twins remain one of the top offensive talents in the league. Henrik, the Canuck’s captain, leads the team with five goals and five assists, and he has totaled four points (1-3-4) in the last three games. While he’s known more for his passing and his brother, Daniel, is the goal scorer (3-2-5 in the last five games), the two have to be monitored throughout the night.

After getting Sunday night off, Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be back in net tonight. His last start was a masterful 35 save performance in a 4-1 win over the Calgary Flames. In his career, he is 5-5-0 with a 2.22 GAA and a .928 save percentage and two shutouts against the Canucks.

It’s been a while since Mika Zibanejad has been the best player on the ice. The first-year Rangers has been a bit quiet as of late, partially overshadowed by surprise performers like Michael Grabner and Pavel Buchnevich, but Zibanejad still has 11 points in 16 games. He scored against the Canucks this season, and has six points (3-3-6) in his last four games against Vancouver. I’m expecting him to have an impact tonight.

Cristoval “Boo” Nieves was recalled yesterday from the Hartford Wolf Pack. Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich were healthy scratches against Edmonton, leaving Vigneault with just 11 forwards since Josh Jooris hasn’t been cleared for contact. It seems like Nieves will make his NHL debut tonight. Kreider was sent for further evaluation of his “upper body injury” and Buchnevich’s back spasms were a serious issue in October.

The 22-year-old has a goal and five assists with the Wolf Pack this season, including four assists/points in the last seven games. Nieves is an excellent defensive player with a ton of speed, so it’ll be interesting to see how he plays tonight. I expect him to play on the fourth line with Grabner and Fast.

The Rangers and the Canucks will faceoff at the Rogers Arena at 10 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.


Jimmy Vesey-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash

Michael Grabner-Mika Zibanejad-Mats Zuccarello

Brandon Pirri-Kevin Hayes-JT Miller

Oscar Lindberg-Boo Nieves-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Brady Skjei

Mick Holden-Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Posted on November 15, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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