TV: MSG Network 7:30 PM Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
The New York Rangers will look to make it six victories in a row as the Carolina Hurricanes arrive on Broadway for the first time this season. During their five-game win streak, the Rangers have climbed to 4th in the Eastern Conference, trailing the Atlantic Division-leading Pittsburgh Penguins by only 2 points.
The team will be looking to ride its newly formed first line of Derek Stepan, Marian Gaborik, and Artem Anisimov once again after having a breakout performance Wednesday night against the Ottawa Senators. The G.A.S. line, as they’ve been labeled, will hope to throttle the offense once again.
Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes come into Madison Square Garden after a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night. Their 13 points puts them at 13th place in the East with only the Winnipeg Jets and New York Islanders in worse positions. In their last ten games, the Hurricanes are 3-5-2 and sport a 2-4-2 record on the road.
Join me after the jump for the full pre-game report.
Injuries: C Mike Rupp (knee surgery), LW Wojtek Wolski (sports hernia), D Marc Staal (concussion), D Anton Stralman (healthy) are all out for tonight’s game.
KEYS TO VICTORY:
- THICK SKINNER-ED: The rookie sensation of last season Jeff Skinner makes his first visit to the Garden and hasn’t missed a beat, scoring 14 points (6G, 8A) in 15 games. Skinner has done damage against the Rangers in a small sample with 5 points (3G, 2A) in 4 career games. On a team having difficulty scoring, Skinner is their main offensive threat so shutting him down is imperative.
- TAKE ADVANTAGE: In the early going, Carolina has been one of the worst defensive teams, allowing the 5th most goals in the NHL with 49, allowing 32.3 shots per game (also 5th worst), and a goal differential of -0.80. Cam Ward, usually a stud in between the pipes, has average numbers (2.87 GAA, .912 sv %) at best. Could be easy pickings if the Rangers force the play.
- HIGH OCTANE: The newly formed GAS line of Gaborik/Anisimov/Stepan has exploded for offense over the past 3 games, scoring 19 points (6G, 13A) while being defensively sound at +17. It’s a balanced offensive attack Tortorella covets and having a first line that’s a threat to score each shift is exactly what the coach wants. Imagine when Brad Richards & Brandon Dubinksy get going on their line…
- SKIP THE REVENGE: This will be the first time the Rangers and Canes play each other after knowing that Eric Staal’s hit from last season gave his brother Marc Staal a concussion. It’s clearly weighing on Staal (3 G, 2 A and a horrific -16) so trying to seek out revenge for Marc would be futile. Concentrating on winning the game is more paramount.
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