If there's one thing you can't question about this Canucks team, it would be their heart. That was quite apparent on Monday in their latest 'must-win game' against the Wild as Vancouver, despite missing their top defensive pairing of Christopher Tanev and Alexander Edler, managed to squeak out a 3-2 win over red hot Minnesota. Whether the Canucks can continue to have sustained success with half of their top-six defencemen in the infirmary is a question that will be answered by the time this road trip concludes.
Vancouver departed for the Big Apple minus the aforementioned top-two tandem meaning the back end should be exactly the same as Monday night's. Up front, it appears Brandon McMillan will finally make his Canucks debut at the expense of Zack Kassian, who had been one of Vancouver's most productive players in terms of points recently. Tonight marks the return of Derek Dorsett to New York for the first time since he was traded to the Canucks in the off-season. Look for Ryan Miller to get back between the pipes tonight. The Canucks have lost five in a row to the Rangers, and two in a row at MSG.
Puck drop at 4 pm PT – Live on Sportsnet Pacific, TSN 1040, or online at tsn1040.ca.
Regular Season Record
2014.15 Season Series
Last 10 games
Last 10 head-to-head
The Rangers may have had a slight Stanley Cup hangover to begin their campaign but in the last two months they've reclaimed their championship form. Since December 8, the Rangers have compiled a record of 23-6-1 which includes a 5-1 victory over the Canucks back on December 13 at Rogers Arena. They also bring a four-game win streak into tonight's game – a streak backstopped entirely by Cam Talbot who has started the last seven in a row for the Rangers since Henrik Lundqvist went down with injury.
Talbot certainly can't complain about the goal support his team has given him lately. Over their four-game win streak, the Rangers have tallied a combined 22 goals. As for the hottest Ranger during this current stretch, that distinction belongs to defenceman Kevin Klein who brings a five-game point streak (1-6-7) into tonight's contest. But when you're talking about the Rangers and their offensive studs, you can't ignore Rick Nash. The former first overall pick has enjoyed a resurgent campaign and has 35 goals to his credit this season – the most he has racked up since a 40-goal season in 2008.09 with Columbus and just six goals shy of equaling a career-high set back in his sophomore season in 2003.04.
Keys to the Game
The defence holds again. The Canucks proved on Monday they can turn in a solid defensive effort even without some of their top blue-liners but they'll face a much tougher test from the Rangers who are the second-highest scoring team in the entire league. The best thing they can do is to make simply plays and avoid turning the puck over especially in their own end.
Test Talbot. Cam Talbot may be stringing together wins but it hasn't been smooth sailing. Since taking over as the interim number one netminder, he's allowed three-or-more goals in five of seven starts. Vancouver has to take advantage of his shakiness in net.
Strike quickly. No team in the NHL has more wins than the Rangers with 27 when scoring the first goal. A similar start to the one they had last time they faced the Canucks is what the Rangers are hoping to get. That game, for all intents and purposes, was over before it was even seven minutes old with New York up 3-0.
By the Numbers
Win percentage for the Rangers against Pacific Division teams (8-1-0).
Win percentage for the Canucks against Metropolitan Division teams (10-1-0). The lone loss was to the Rangers.
Straight losses for the Canucks to the Rangers in head-to-head meetings dating back to January 13, 2011.
Game point streak for ex-Ranger Chris Higgins (0-6-6) entering tonight's game, tied for his career-high.
Canucks defencemen who have missed time at some point this season with an injury.
Defencemen who have scored a goal for the Canucks this season. Hamhuis and Clendening are the only who have not.