”It is vital to this team to not take it easy and not go lightly on an opponent that is maybe wounded and kind of weak right now,” said John Mitchell, who has a goal and two assists since being recalled from Connecticut last week. “We have to keep the killer instinct going and go, go, go and go hard because every point counts. It doesn’t matter what team we play, we have to make sure to bring it every night.”
- John Mitchell via Blueshirts United
Opponent Blog: Cardiac Cane
Winner of three straight against the upper echelon of the Eastern Conference – the Capitals, Flyers, and Penguins – the New York Rangers head into Carolina to face the Hurricanes in search of their fourth straight victory. The Blueshirts sport the second best goals against average (2.10) in the NHL. However, it will be backup Martin Biron – not seen since a 4-0 loss in Montreal on November 19 – with the start tonight.
Meanwhile, the Hurricanes have made significant coaching changes this week, letting go Paul Maurice to bring in Kirk Muller as well as hiring ex-Devils head coach John MacLean as an assistant. The Canes are 0-3-1 in their last four games, scoring just 5 goals in that span.
Join me after the jump for the complete pre-game report.
Injuries: Wojtek Wolski (sports hernia), Mike Rupp (knee), Marc Staal (concussion) are all OUT for tonight’s game. Andre Deveaux and Anton Stralman are healthy scratches.
KEYS TO VICTORY:
IT’S A TRAP!: Despite Carolina’s sub-par record, they’re not a terrible team by any stretch. Coming off an emotional game against the Penguins and winners of three straight, this has all the makings for a let down by the Blueshirts. They’ll need to have focus and intensity for 60 minutes in order to avoid disaster against a team looking to get its new head coach his first victory.
BOUNCE BACK BY BIRON: His last outing was certainly one to forget, surrendering 4 goals to the Canadiens. It’s been several games in between starts so look for Biron to try and get settled in early. Strong career numbers against the ‘Canes (10-4-1-2 with a 2.53 GAA and one shutout in 19 career regular season games vs. Carolina) could be the confidence boost Biron needs.
NOT-SO SPECIAL TEAMS: Carolina’s special teams haven’t been very good thus far (29th on the power play, 26th on the penalty kill). With power play goals in each of their last three games -including converting 3 out of their last 5 chances – the Rangers need to extend that streak tonight as well.
MAINTAIN YOUR BALANCE: Since both Carl Hagelin & John Mitchell have entered the lineup, the Rangers have had four lines that are playing effectively and creating offense. Richards has goals in three straight and Hagelin has a point in each of his first three career NHL games. It’s that type of balance that helps you win games consistently over an entire season rather going back and forth with wins and losses.
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