Opponent Blog: A Winning Habit
Fresh off a victory in Toronto 24 hours ago, the New York Rangers are back at it again to face the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre. With their victory last night, the Blueshirts once again took over the #1 spot in the NHL with 60 points — the first team to achieve that feat this season.
New York wasn’t the only team to play last night as the Canadiens dropped a 3-2 contest in a shootout to the surging Ottawa Senators. The Canadiens – who recently traded Mike Cammalleri back to Calgary after insensitive remarks about the franchise – are mired in a dreadful season filled with distraction, currently residing at 12th in the East and trending downward, posting a 3-6-1 record in their last ten games.
The projected lineup and keys to victory after the jump.
Injuries: Michael Sauer (concussion), Steve Eminger (shoulder), and Jeff Woywitka (foot) are all OUT for tonight’s game. Brandon Dubinsky (shoulder) is a game-time decision. Ruslan Fedotenko experienced back spasms during last night’s game and is
questionable to play OUT tonight. C Kris Newbury has been called up from the AHL’s Connecticut Whale to take his spot.
KEYS TO VICTORY
- CONTAIN THEIR SPEED – It’s well known the struggles the Rangers have against teams that possess good overall speed (see Toronto, Ottawa as examples). It goes hand in hand with the old adage you can’t hit what you can’t catch. However, we saw last night that if you forecheck constantly and provide containment, you’ll grind down the opposition. Against the speedy Canadiens, more of the same must happen.
- REVERSE UGLY FORTUNES – The Bell Centre has been a personal hell for the Rangers franchise and Henrik Lundqvist over the years. A 64-197-40-2 all-time record in Montreal, and the team overall has lost its last five visits here. However, the Blueshirts do have one stat on their side today. In the two franchises storied history, they’ve only played each other five times on a Sunday. The last time was Super Bowl Sunday 2008, when the Rangers won 5-3 –also their last regulation win in Montreal.
- WIN THE SPECIAL TEAMS BATTLE – While the Rangers power play continues to struggle, their penalty kill has remained exceptional, ranking 6th best in the NHL (and 6th best on the road). Montreal’s penalty kill is surprisingly better ranking 2nd overall. However they’ve given up five shorthanded goals – tied for 3rd worst in the NHL – while the Rangers have scored 6 short handers so far. Something to keep in mind considering Montreal’s power play – usually electric – is 2nd from the bottom in the league.