The Blueshirts are in Vancouver for their first of three games in Western Canada (10:00 P.M. on MSGSN).
|7th||NHL Standing Rank||27th|
Rangers vs Canucks
The Rangers are set to begin a three-game road trip in western Canada starting in Vancouver. The two teams met exactly a week ago in New York where the Rangers came out with a 4-3 victory. But things have changed since then on both teams. Most notably, New York acquired Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola from the St. Louis Blues. The Blueshirts have yet to lose a game with the new additions in the lineup.
While the Canucks are towards the bottom of the league in the standings, they are still a threat at scoring goals. The Canucks rank eleventh in the league in goals for and their power-play is also eleventh. Despite trading their captain and leading goal scorer Bo Horvat at the end of January, the Canucks are still averaging over three goals a game with 16 goals in five games since the trade. Elias Pettersson is now the Canucks leading goal scorer with 25 goals on the season. The Swedish centerman has 64 points as he looks to surpass his previous career high of 68.
Vancouver has had goaltender issues since Thatcher Demko went down with an injury. Demko is getting very close to returning, but he won’t be available against the Rangers. Spencer Martin was Demko’s backup and he split the net with Colin Delia in Demko’s absence. But, a change was made on the Vancouver side of the rink in that Martin, who gave up four goals in Madison Square Garden, was placed on waivers and ultimately sent to the AHL. Delia started the team’s last game against Detroit and he allowed six goals on 23 shots.
Delia will yield the net to the NHL debut of rookie netminder Arturs Silovs. The 21-year-old was a sixth-round pick in 2019 by the Canucks. The Latvian-native had a record of 21-9-4 with a .906 save percentage in the AHL this season.
Silovs should have his hands full with the Rangers coming to town. New York has slowly climbed up the standings in terms of offense. The Rangers now are ninth in the league with goals for per game and are now 12th in the league on the power-play. The Blueshirts power-play has often struggled this season and since the trade, they have balanced out the power-play units more and are not leaving the first unit on the ice for the entire man-advantage. The Canucks average four-goals against per game and have the worst ranked penalty kill in the league.
Igor Shesterkin is expected to start for the Rangers on Wednesday night. Jaroslav Halak made the last start in Carolina and he had another solid outing in a 6-2 victory. Shesterkin is coming off a 6-3 win over the Kraken and he will look to win his third straight game. If the Rangers can lock down defensively on Wednesday night, they should be able to win this game without much of a hassle.
One change Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant made in their previous game, was changing Artemi Panarin and Chris Kreider. The change sparked the Blueshirts offense and Panarin as the Rangers exploded for six goals against the Hurricanes. Panarin recorded a four-goal game and his second career hat-trick as a member of the Rangers. The Russian Leftwinger is expected to open the game with Vincent Trocheck and Jimmy Vesey – just as the Blueshirts left off.
In other Rangers news, Vitaly Kravtsov has requested a trade for the second time. Kravtsov is likely to be dealt before the trade deadline according to New York media. The likely return to expect for the Russian winger is a day two draft pick (Second or third-round pick) or a prospect who is also seeking a change of scenery.
What to Watch
The Blueshirts have won five-in-a-row and are 6-0-1 in their last seven. New York are heavy favorites in this game, but this game lines up to be a trap game. The Rangers were heavy favorites against Montreal in mid-January and they suffered a 2-1 defeat in a game in which many thought they would dominate. Wednesday night is a similar scenario which will make it interesting to see how the Rangers handle the game. Blueshirts fans would like to see the Rangers take care of business and prove they are just the better team and continue their quest towards the playoffs.
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