RALEIGH, N.C. -- The New York Rangers will have a chance to clinch a Stanley Cup Playoff berth Thursday night when they visit the Carolina Hurricanes. One thing they will need is a bigger offensive push than they gave in Tuesday's 3-2 loss against the Florida Panthers.
"We need to forecheck better and establish a net presence," said Rick Nash, who leads the Rangers with 19 goals. "We got a lot of shots (against Florida), but they were from the outside -- no traffic. The goalies in this League are world-class and you've got to be able to put some bodies in front of them."
The Rangers will clinch a playoff spot with any combination of two points gained in their final two games, or a loss by the Winnipeg Jets to the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night. Against Carolina, New York hopes to add some diversity to its offensive game and remove any doubt about the postseason.
"[We want to] get to the dirty areas, maybe spread the offensive zone out and use the points a little bit," defenseman Ryan McDonagh said. "We talked about trying to use our D, and if we don't get the puck on net, at least draw the forwards out and maybe get a quick 2-on-1 in front of the net or something like that. Just try to be a little more creative in the offensive zone."
For Carolina, Alexander Semin will miss the final two games of the season with a concussion.
Here are the projected lineups for the Rangers and the Hurricanes:
Taylor Pyatt – Brad Richards – Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin – Derek Stepan – Ryan Callahan
Rick Nash - Derick Brassard – Ryan Clowe
Darroll Powe – Chris Kreider – Aaron Asham
Dan Girardi – Ryan McDonagh
Michael Del Zotto – Anton Stralman
John Moore – Steve Eminger
Scratched: Brian Boyle, Roman Hamrlik, Matt Gilroy
Injured: Marc Staal, Derek Dorsett, Michael Sauer
Jiri Tlusty – Eric Staal – Chad LaRose
Tuomo Ruutu – Jordan Staal – Jared Staal
Tim Wallace – Jeff Skinner – Patrick Dwyer
Nicolas Blanchard – Kevin Westgarth
Tim Gleason – Justin Faulk
Jay Harrison – Joe Corvo
Bobby Sanguinetti – Jamie McBain/Marc-Andre Bergeron
Injured: Alexander Semin, Cam Ward, Joni Pitkanen, Drayson Bowman, Tim Brent