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Rangers take on the Montreal Canadiens with Raanta in net

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs canadiens faceoff 10-15

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After securing two solid home-ice wins this week, the Rangers (42-24-8) are back on the road for one game, taking on the Montreal Canadiens (34-35-6) at the Bell Centre, one of the toughest stadiums to play in the NHL.

Most years, this would be a battle between two playoff teams. But the Canadiens have had to deal with injuries, a falling out between players and coaches and lackluster play, putting them in the midst of one of their worst seasons in recent history. Carey Price hasn’t played since November and that definitely hurt the Canadiens, but that injury shouldn’t affect the play of everyone else.

The Rangers are in a much better position than Montreal, winning their last two games and having the Penguins and Islanders lose on their off-days. Both teams have a single game in hand, and the Penguins and Islanders are four and five points behind the Rangers, respectively. With just eight games to go for the Blueshirts, every point is important. Read the rest of this entry

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Quick Hits: The Florida Panthers are legit, Winter Classic, Changing the Playoff format

Bobby Bevilacqua

Welcome back to Quick Hits, a series where I talk about anything and everything around the NHL. The NHL is approaching the halfway mark of the season, and there are some really interesting storylines. The Panthers are in first place in the Atlantic, the Ducks are one of the worst teams in the league, and the Canadiens can’t win without Carey Price.

If there’s anything you want me to talk about in the next edition of Quick Hits, leave it in the comments section below.

The Florida Panthers are legit

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 1: Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Florida Panthers celebrates his goal with teammates Aaron Ekblad #5 and Brian Campbell #51 the Tampa Bay Lightning at the BB&T Center on March 1, 2015 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

Photo courtesy of Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images.

Before the season started, I predicted that the Panthers would make the playoffs as a wild card team. I didn’t foresee the Canadiens falling off without Carey Price, or the Lightning struggling, or Detroit playing around .500 hockey.

So to the surprise of just about everybody, it’s the Florida Panthers that lead the Atlantic Division. Dave Tallon has constructed a team with an excellent blend of youth and veteran leadership, constructed through the draft and some smart offseason acquisitions. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers drop third straight, blanked by Flyers at home

Alexandra Russo

rangers vs flyers 11-28

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After two pretty disappointing effort against the Canadiens and Bruins, the Rangers (16-6-2) continued their losing streak to three straight with a 3-0 loss at the Garden with Raanta in net. It was the second meeting of these teams. The Flyers took the 3-2 win in the last game in a shootout in Philadelphia and have now gone 2-0-0 on the season. They broke an eleven game losing streak at the Garden with the win.

In Friday’s matchup against Boston, Derek Stepan took a hard hit, and two of his ribs were broken. He is out indefinitely as of right now. Coach Vigneault’s decision was to give Hayes a chance at center in Stepan’s absence, with Kreider on the left and Etem on the right.

A bitter rivalry between the Rangers and Flyers reared its head in Saturday’s contest. The fighting started early when McIlrath dropped the gloves with Luke Schenn early in the period. But the physicality didn’t stop there. The Rangers, who aren’t a very physical team, recorded 15 hits in the first period alone to the Flyers’ 11. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers take on Flyers in first game without Derek Stepan

Bobby Bevilacqua

Rangers vs Flyers 10-24

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After two disappointing losses, the Rangers (16-5-2) were handed another tough pill to swallow, losing center Derek Stepan for an indefinite amount of time after he broke some ribs following a late hit from Bruins winger Matt Beleskey.

That means that Vigneault will have to adjust his squad accordingly as they prepare to take on the Philadelphia Flyers (8-10-5) for the second of five matchups between the longtime rivals, and the first of two games at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers did have their nine game home win streak snapped against the Canadiens on Wednesday, but they still have been superb at MSG, posting a 10-3-1 record. They have not lost three consecutive games in regulation since very early last season, a stretch from October 11 to the 14, so they’ll aim to end their mini slide today. Read the rest of this entry

Rangers lose the game and Derek Stepan in Boston

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs bruins 11-27

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

After a shockingly poor performance against the Canadiens, the Rangers (16-5-2) came out and played better, but could not win as the Boston Bruins (13-8-1) secured their fifth consecutive win by a final score of 4-3, with some help from the officials.

It was an intense back-and-forth affair with a lot of aggressive play, typical of a rivalry matchup we’ve seen from these two teams over the years. Despite an improved performance and steadfast play, a pair of late goals swung the game in Boston’s favor.

Part of the reason why the Rangers loss was due to a dirty, late hit from Matt Beleskey on Derek Stepan. Beleskey hit the Rangers center well after a pass and into the boards headfirst. The Rangers were without him for the last 38 minutes of the game, which really hurt late in game on defense. Read the rest of this entry