NHL Preview- Vancouver Canucks @ New York Rangers. 12:00 (AM)

Tonight’s NHL preview involves a cracker off a game. We have a cross-country matchup as the Pacific’s Vancouver Canucks seek to get a W on their record in the first of a five game road trip versus opposition from the Metropolitan division. They travel to Manhattan to take on the New York Rangers in what is sure to be an entertaining game at Madison Square Garden.

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The ‘Nucks’ have been one of the Canadian teams to have shown a resurgence in Hockey quality this season, along with the Flames and the Jets, and it’s nice to see a team so used to success getting back to familiar ways. They’ve arguably been better and more consistent on the road this season, earning 16 of a possible 28 wins when on their travels (ninth best in the league), but this is a large stretch to take for a first game. They’re currently sitting 14th in the league, 7th in the West, and 3rd in the Pacific meaning their playoff hopes are alive for now, however they have the San Jose Sharks and the defending champs, the Los Angeles Kings hot on their tails, both sitting a single point behind the Canucks.

The squad they have on the road however is looking slightly problematic. The offence is all in check other than Nick Bonino who has been out for the last four games and is probably not going to play tonight, however they will be without a massive THREE of their top 4 defence. Alexander Edler, Kevin Bieksa and Chris Tanev are all injured, and this means they’re going to be relying on a bunch of call-ups from the AHL to anchor their blue line for this stretch. Ryan Miller gets the start between the pipes tonight who has gone 26-15-1, and has a respectable 2.46 GAA and .913 SV% on the season. The Canucks have fared incredibly well against Metropolitan opposition this season, going 10-1-0 against them.

The Rangers, after a slow start out of the gates this season, have returned to their usual fine form. The Stanley Cup runners-up have established the Garden as their stomping ground this season to be feared by all travelling teams, as they’ve gone 17-7-4 on the home rink this season (eleventh best in the league). The Rangers are currently sitting in a solidified 9th spot in the league, 5th in the East, and 2nd in the Metropolitan division. They sit 1 game in hand and 1 point behind the Red Wings, 3 games in hand and 4 points behind their rivals the Islanders (whom they beat in their last game), and 5 games in hand and 5 points behind the Tampa Bay Lightning, meaning once those games get made up, the Rangers could see themselves in an optimum position in the Eastern conference.

They have the benefit of having a fully fit squad tonight which has gotten them their current four game win streak and the seven wins in their last ten games. The only notable injury is elite goalie Henrik Lundqvist who has been out for eight games now. Cam Talbot took the reigns and makes his eighth start tonight. Talbot has gone 5-1-1 since taking over from Lundqvist which isn’t backed up by his rather un-pretty numbers of a 3.01 GAA and .900 SV%, but fortunately, the goal support in front of him has been fabulous, averaging over 4 goals in those seven games. You also have to consider his season numbers of 2.51 GAA and .915 SV% which is satisfactory and on par with his opposing tendie tonight, Ryan Miller. Just like the Canucks, the Rangers have been fabulous against the opposing team’s divisional counterparts this season, boasting a major 8-1-0 record against Pacific opposition.

I personally think with how both of these teams have been playing, this game has the potential to be a battle of offences, however that being said, the Rangers are playing better Hockey, and the offence has been outstanding as of late. I mentioned that the Canucks have gone 10-1-0 against opponents from the same division as the Rangers this season. Who did they lose to? They lost to the very team they’re playing tonight, in front of their home crowd, losing by a major margin of 5 goals to 1. That was when this Canucks team had a full defence and the Rangers weren’t playing their best Hockey, this time round, the Canucks are without three key pieces of their blue line jigsaw, and the Rangers are playing some of their best hockey this season. Travelling across the country to Madison Square Garden is no easy task for any team, and for that reason, I think the Rangers can get the job done stylishly tonight.

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Categories: NHL, NHL Tips, Preview, USA Sports
Tags: nhl tips, sport

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