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Blueshirts Excited to Begin Four-Game Road Trip

Lines Changed at Practice

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

CALGARY -- The Rangers are month into the regular season and yet are embarking on the first real road trip of the season.

The Rangers opened the season with 10 of the first 14 games at Madison Square Garden, with visits to St. Louis, Washington, Carolina and Boston sprinkled in, all of which were one-game trips.

New York now begins a four-game, eight-day trip to western Canada to face Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver with a final stop in Columbus.

"It's a good challenge for us," Henrik Lundqvist said Thursday. "We haven't traveled much. We've played a lot of home games, which has been a good test. Now, I think it's going to be a good test to go out on the road here and face some desperate teams."

The Rangers have faired well on the road over the last handful of seasons, with its 74 victories away from The Garden being tied for second in the NHL, and most in the Eastern Conference. Derek Stepan said a good road record often correlates with a strong overall record.

"I think this is a good time for us to get out on the road," Stepan said. "Obviously there's huge points on the line. We need to have a good road trip and that's our main focus. We have to find a way to put a road game together. Our last few have been better but we've really got to find a way because it's really hard to win, especially going to other people's buildings. Good road teams usually have success."

The trip also allows for the Rangers' new faces to get to know one another better. While the team is 14 games into the season, a road trip allows players to spend more time together than they would during a home stretch.

"Road trips are always fun," said Brandon Pirri, in his first year with the Rangers. "You get to hang out with the guys and get to know them better. This is one of our longer ones of the year, so it's going to be a lot of fun. Things gel very quickly after road trips like that. Guys have a lot more fun. It's going to be a good time."

Head coach Alain Vigneault said at this point in the season teams are still figuring out their identities, and the Rangers are no different.

"For our group, get together and get away. We've got four good games. we're still int he phase here of finding out about our group," Vigneault said. "There's no better way than going on the road and being together and preparing and trying to win games."


Vigneault changed up his lines a defensive pairing Thursday at practice, but was quick to say he was unsure if they are the lines he'll deploy Saturday night against the Flames in Calgary.

One of those changes was moving Brady Skjei to the right side with Marc Staal and having Nick Holden paired with Kevin Klein. Vigneault praised the rookie's play as of late.

"I just wanted to get a look," Vigneault said of Skjei on the right side, before adding he'll decide on his lineup after watching the Flames take on the Stars tonight. "I do want him to practice there, get a little bit more comfortable. I really like his progression and his skating and puck abilities."

The Rangers' forward lines had Mika Zibanejad between Mats Zuccarello and Pavel Buchnevich, Stepan between Chris Kreider and Rick Nash, Kevin Hayes centering Jimmy Vesey and J.T. Miller, and Pirri between Michael Grabner and Jesper Fast.

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