RANGERS (7-8-0) at BLUE JACKETS (5-9-0)
TV: NHLN-US, MSG, FS-O
Last 10: New York 6-4-0; Columbus 3-7-0
Season series: This is the first of four games for the new Metropolitan Division opponents. The New York Rangers won the most recent game, 3-2 in overtime on Feb. 19, 2012.
Big story: Each team has several players that once belonged to the other, with two significant trades causing them to switch sides.
"It has the possibilities of an interesting game tomorrow, from a lot of different aspects," Columbus Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards told the team website Wednesday. "Just the number of players obviously that played here, and the number of players that played in New York, makes for an interesting dynamic."
The most significant, Rangers forward Rick Nash, will not play because of a head injury sustained Oct. 8. This will be his 13th game missed.
"You don't want to see him hurt," Richards said of the former Blue Jackets captain, according to The Columbus Dispatch. "But from a very selfish standpoint, I'd rather not play against Rick Nash than play against Rick Nash, just because Rick Nash is a great player."
Rangers: New York, which defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1 at home Wednesday, is 1-1-0 in the second of a back-to-back this season after going 7-4-1 (3-1-0 on the road) in 2012-13.
The Rangers are 4-2-0 since returning from a season-starting nine-game road trip.
"We can obviously draw on this and give us some confidence going forward," defenseman Marc Staal told NBC Sports Network. "We've got another game tomorrow night, we can't have a letdown, and we go into Columbus and try to get another win."
Associate coach Scott Arniel was Blue Jackets coach for 123 games from 2010-12, and defenseman Anton Stralman played for Columbus from 2009-11.
Blue Jackets: Former Rangers Artem Anisimov, Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik make up Columbus' top line and have combined for 26 points. But they have one during the past three games in a four-game losing streak.
"It's definitely one of those games you look forward to, really get fired up for, and go in there with a little bit of vengeance," Dubinsky said, according to the Dispatch. "But given where we're at … it doesn't really matter who we're playing tomorrow. I don't care if it's the New York Rangers or the Carolina Hurricanes, it's the most important game of the season and we have to find a way to get the points."
Richards is hopeful his team, which hasn't led in a game for 219:14 (according to the Dispatch), won't be distracted by the circumstances.
"I think you always are driven by wanting to prove the team wrong, whether it's the players we got from New York or whether it's the players that we had that went to New York," he said. "I think there's some nerves the first time when you do get together. It's like seeing an ex-girlfriend; sometimes you don't know what to say and it makes for a little uncomfortable situation, and I think nerves become part of it."
Defenseman Fedor Tyutin played for New York from 2003-08.
Who's hot: The Rangers have held their opponent to two or fewer goals in eight straight games, and nine of 10. Forward Mats Zucarello has six assists in the past four games, seven points in seven games since he was a healthy scratch Oct. 24. … Blue Jackets defenseman James Wisniewski entered play Wednesday tied for 10th among NHL defensemen with 10 points (one goal). Forward RJ Umberger has six points in his past seven games.
Injury report: Nash (head) is out indefinitely. Forward Dominic Moore (oblique) is out. … Blue Jackets forward Nathan Horton (shoulder) skated Wednesday for the first time since the summer, after an MRI exam the Dispatch described as positive. Forwards Boone Jenner (leg) and Matt Calvert (abdomen) are out. Umberger (neck) was injured in practice Wednesday and is a game-time decision.
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