The Canucks look for their third straight win tonight as they continue their road trip in the Big Apple taking on the New York Rangers in The World's Most Famous Arena.
It's hard to argue with the results the Canucks have picked up over the last two games on this road trip even if the methods leave something to be desired. On Sunday, Vancouver squeaked out a 2-1 shootout victory in Brooklyn despite being out-shot 48-26 by the Islanders. It was the same story two nights prior to that as Vancouver managed to secure a 3-2 overtime win over the Hurricanes despite being out-shot 40-22. While the Canucks hope they won't have to go down the unconventional route again to victory, they know their line-up will be unconventional as it won't feature Captain Henrik Sedin, who was injured in Sunday's win after taking a hit-from-behind from the Islanders' Mikhail Grabovski.
Henrik's absence means the Canucks will be turning to a pair of young centres to try and carry the offensive load, namely Bo Horvat and Jared McCann, the latter who saw a significant increase in his ice-time on Sunday as a result of Henrik's injury. Look for Jake Virtanen to return to the line-up tonight as well likely in place of veteran Brandon Prust, while Adam Cracknell will also slot back in after sitting out Sunday's contest. Ryan Miller is expected to start tonight for the Canucks going up against Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers.
Puck drop at 4 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2015.16 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
On December 22, the Rangers posted a 3-2 overtime win over the Ducks to snap a season-high three-game losing streak. They undoubtedly hoped that win would spur them on a streak in the positive direction. Unfortunately, 'consistently inconsistent' would be the best way to describe the Blueshirts who have alternated wins and losses over their past 10 outings. It's hard to pinpoint one area that has been the reason for their inability to string together wins aside from their struggles on special teams, specifically the power play which has been a sore spot for them lately after a torrid start to the season. At the start of the run, the Rangers were routinely putting up goals on the scoreboard but had trouble keeping them out. In their last four games, however, the offence has dried up a bit scoring just seven combined goals while giving up 11 combined tallies.
Although the Rangers have had a hard time streaking in a positive way as a team, they do have some individual players who have been able to string together strong performances. Chris Kreider heads that list as he brings a team-leading three-game point streak (3-1-4) into tonight's game which also includes three goals scored over his last two outings. Rick Nash (0-2-2), Derek Stepan (0-2-2), and Ryan McDonagh (0-2-2) each have points in two straight but the Rangers know they need more from the likes of team-leading goals and point scorer Mats Zuccarello (two assists in last seven games), second-leading goal scorer Derick Brassard (no points in three straight), Keith Yandle (no points in three straight), and Dan Boyle (no points in seven straight). Getting King Henrik on a roll is also at the top of their priority list. As hard as it is to believe, Lundqvist has not strung together consecutive wins since November. He's hoping tonight will be the night that finally comes to an end. Lundqvist made 34 saves on 36 shots in a 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers in his last start on Saturday. He made 23 saves on 25 shots in a 2-1 loss to the Canucks back on December 9.
Keys to the Game
Bring on the controversy. On Friday it was Markstrom turning in a sensational performance to steal a win over Carolina. On Sunday, it was Miller standing on his head to do the same against the Islanders. Clearly there's no wrong answer in net for the Canucks right now. Miller gets the call so he'll be looking to continue this intriguing internal battle.
Etem has his moment. Emerson Etem had few memorable moments in his brief stint as a Ranger. He'd love to make a grand one tonight in his return to MSG for the first time since the trade. The 23-year-old is still seeking his first points as a Canuck.
Discipline needed. The Rangers aren't known as frequent visitors of the penalty box but back on December 9 they basically handed the third period to the Canucks by taking penalty after penalty. Considering their PK woes this season, they had better not aim for a repeat tonight.
Canucks Gameday Road Report, Presented by Toyota
By the Numbers
Straight head-to-head wins for the Canucks over the Rangers (five straight losses prior).
Games missed by Henrik Sedin this season. Canucks went 1-0-1 in those games.
Straight road wins for the Canucks entering play tonight, first time since 3-game win streak from Oct. 7-13.
Straight games the Canucks have allowed 40-or-more shots (3-3-2 this season when allowing 40+ shots).
Percent power play success rate for the Rangers over their last nine games (1-for-26). They went 0-for-5 vs Vancouver on December 9.
Games played by Emerson Etem as a Ranger this season. He had three assists.