Each team has won on their home ice, with Jimmy Vesey and Chis Kreider scoring the game-winners for the Rangers at The Garden. However, these teams are heading in reverse ways when considering the postseason. The Blueshirts are solidly placed, at worst case, in the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, while Carolina is a distant eighth.
The Rangers have won back-to-back games against Tampa Bay and Florida. Henrik Lundqvist and Rick Nash proved to be important participants in the win over the Panthers, but will not suit up tonight. Both are listed day-to-day due to injury.
Micheal Grabner, Jesper Fast, Dan Girardi and Kevin Klein remain sidelined as well. Health is an issue with every team at this point of the season. It is imperative that each team be as healthy as possible come playoff time. The Rangers are no different.
Antti Raanta will get the start in goal. He is coming off a spectacular 1-0 overtime win against the Lightning in his last appearance. The Rangers goaltending tandem is about as good as it gets in the league, but may become vulnerable with the addition of Las Vegas next season. Raanta’s continued good play would certainly force the Golden Knights to consider selecting him in the June expansion draft.
3 KEYS TO RANGERS-HURRICANES
1. Expect a Battle
Don’t be fooled by the record. This Carolina team is one that battles for 60 minutes and has won 18 games at home. For reference, the Rangers have won 19 at home. The Hurricanes are a totally different team on home ice.
2. Work the D
The future core of Carolina resides on its blueline. While that bodes well for the future, they are vulnerable to youthful mistakes. Chip and chase will be something that will produce results with the young Carolina back end.
3. All Hands on Deck
Nash and Lundqvist will be out of the lineup tonight, joining Girardi, Klein, Fast and Grabner. That is six important pieces that are not available. A sum of tonight’s total is imperative.
Catch the Rangers-Hurricanes tilt tonight on the MSG Radio Network, ESPN 98.7 FM and the MSG Television Network. Pregame at 6:30, puck drop a little after 7.
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