The New York Rangers' schedule hasn't been overly forgiving, and tonight's matchup against the Stanley Cup runner-ups is no different. The Vancouver Canucks will pose yet another difficult test for the already injury-riddled Rangers. With that said, a win tonight will do quite a bit to calm the storm that's currently brewing over the Rangers' 0-1-2 start.
Here are the keys to tonight's matchup:
Stay Out Of The Penalty Box: It's a pretty simple concept, but one that the Rangers haven't been able to avoid all year. The Rangers are already down Marc Staal and they will be without Michael Sauer tonight as well. Those are two of the more consistent penalty killers on the team, so the unit is already going to be shorthanded. So to replace the two, John Tortorella has had to lean on guys like Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan to log extra minutes when the Rangers are a man down. Which, in turn, has caused both to be tired when they are needed to actually produce goals, not stop them. Want to know how this can all be avoided? By staying out of the box.
Join e after the jump for more keys to the game and official pregame notes from the New York Rangers.
Please Be Wary Of The Sedin Twins: If you add together Henrik and Daniel Sedin's points on the year (14) you have more points than the entire Rangers team combined. Both are prolific passers, and can put the puck into the back of the net before you can bat an eye. Normally, keeping the two (and their winger) off the scoresheet would be delegated to Staal and Dan Girardi. Now it's going to be delegated to Girardi and Ryan McDonagh. Although both have filled Staal's shoes admirably, they're going to have their hands full tonight. The Rangers' forwards are going to have be ready to hustle back and help defend all night, or else this game will get out of hand quickly.
Come Out Swinging: The Rangers have come out flat in all three games so far this season. Now it's time to change that trend. The Rangers are going up against one of the best teams in the league, and won't have much of a chance if they can't hit the ground running. Tortorella is aware of the issue, and the team has presumably been working on it in practice. Now it's time to put words into action.
Keep Henrik Lundqvist Clean: Presuming Lundqvist starts -- and there is no reason to assume otherwise -- the Rangers need to keep his crease clear. The Canucks have more than a few players who are adept at finding loose pucks and banging them into the back of the net. The best way to avoid that is by keeping them away from Lundqvist in the first place.
Here are the Rangers official pre-game notes:
The Rangers will face-off against the Vancouver Canucks tomorrow, Oct. 18, at Rogers Arena (10:00 p.m.), to begin a six-game stretch against Canadian opponents including four on the road to begin the set. The Blueshirts enter the contest having been defeated by the New York Islanders, 4-2, on Saturday at Nassau Colieseum, and are now 0-1-2 (2 pts) to begin the season. New York ranked third among Eastern Conference teams vs. the Western Conference last season, posting an 11-7-0 record including a 4-3-0 mark against Northwest Division opponents. The Canucks enter the contest with a 2-2-1 (5 pts) record, having defeated the Oilers, 4-3, on Saturday at Edmonton. Following tomorrow's contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Calgary Flames on Thursday, Oct. 20, at Scotiabank Saddledome (9:30 p.m.), in the second game of their four-game Canadian road trip.
RANGERS PRACTICE SCHEDULE
The Blueshirts are scheduled for an 11:30 a.m. morning skate tomorrow, October 15, at Rogers Arena.
-TV: MSG Network
9:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show with Bill Pidto and Ron Duguay
10:00 p.m. - Rangers at Canucks
Broadcasters: Sam Rosen (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), John Giannone (In-Game Reporter)
-Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
9:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show
10:00 p.m. - Rangers at Canucks
Broadcasters: Joe Tolleson (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. CANUCKS:
-All-Time: 72-30-8-0 overall (39-13-5-0 at home; 33-17-3-0 on the road)
-2011-12: Tonight marks the first and only meeting this season.
-Last Season: New York was 1-0-0 overall, having won their only meeting, 1-0, on Jan. 13 at Madison Square Garden. Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves for the shutout, and Wojtek Wolski tallied the lone goal, his first as a Ranger, on the power play at 7:18 of the second period. Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik each recorded an assist.
-New York ranks 19th with a 0-1-2 (2 pts) record on the road; Vancouver ranks 22nd with a 0-0-1 (1 pt) mark at home
-The Rangers have not faced a Northwest Division opponent this season; the Canucks are 0-1-1 vs. the Atlantic Division
-Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 1-3-0 record with a 3.24 GAA and one shutout in four career regular season contests vs. Vancouver; Martin Biron is 3-3-1-0 with a 2.85 GAA in eight career regular season games vs. the Canucks
-Marian Gaborik leads the Rangers with 18 goals, 14 assists and 32 points in 38 career regular season contests vs. Vancouver; Brad Richards has tallied 16 points (eight goals, eight assists) in 16 games vs. the Canucks, and Wojtek Wolski has recorded 13 assists and 18 points in 27 games against Vancouver
-New York lists no former Canucks on their roster
-Vancouver lists four former Rangers on their roster: Chris Higgins (2009-10); Manny Malhotra (1998-99 - 2001-02); Mikael Samuelsson (2001-02 - 2002-03); Dale Weise (2010-11)
-Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in four power play opportunities (7:06) on Saturday at Long Island, and are now 0-12 through three games. The Rangers are 0-1 (0:08) in five-on-three situations (last 10/8 at ANA), and 0-1 (0:40) when four-on-three (last 10/8 at ANA). Shorthanded goals allowed (0).
-Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts surrendered two goals to the Islanders in eight shorthanded situations (11:33) on Saturday at Long Island. New York ranks 16th overall (16-19, 84.2%) and 15th on the road (16-19, 84.2%). The Rangers are 2-2 (0:44) in three-on-five situations (last 10/15 at NYI), and 0-1 (1:17) when three-on-four (last 10/7 at LAK). Shorthanded goals for (0).
-Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in one four-on-four situation (0:54) on Saturday at Long Island, and are now even in seven four-on-four situations (11:54). Four-on-four goals for (0). Four-on-four goals allowed (0).
The Rangers completed their first of 14 back-to-back sets this season with a 2-1 shootout loss against the Anaheim Ducks on Oct. 8 at Ericsson Globe Arena. New York has posted a record of 0-0-1 (0-0-0 at home, 0-0-1 on the road) in the first game of the set, and are 0-0-1 (0-0-0 at home, 0-0-1 on the road) in the second game. Since 2009-10, New York is 21-8-3 in the back-end of back-to-back sets, including a 9-3-1 mark at MSG and 12-5-2 on the road over the span. The Rangers' next back-to-back set is Nov. 5-6 vs. Montreal and Winnipeg, both games to be played at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers lead the league with a 57.3% faceoff winning percentage, winning 94-of-164 faceoff attempts this season. Brad Richards leads all NHL players with an 80.0% faceoff winning percentage (24-30).
O CAPTAIN! MY CAPTAIN!
Ryan Callahan notched the Rangers first goal of the season at 15:22 of the first period on Oct. 7 against the Kings, while making his debut as the teams captain. He also led all skaters with a career-high, 11 shots and led all team forwards with 20:30 of ice time. Callahans 11 shots established a Rangers record for most shots in a season opener, and were the most by an NHL player in a season-opening game since Pavel Bure on Oct. 3, 1997 vs. Anaheim (11 shots). The last Ranger to register at least 11 shots in a game was Brendan Shanahan on Apr. 4, 2008 vs. the Islanders (12 shots).
The Rangers had three players make their Rangers debut in the team's season opener on Oct. 7 against the Kings - Tim Erixon (NHL debut), Brad Richards (one assist) and Mike Rupp. In addition, defenseman Jeff Woywitka made his Rangers debut on Saturday at Long Island.
Forwards Brandon Prust and Mike Rupp both reached NHL milestones on Saturday at Long Island. Prust skated in his 200th career NHL game, while Rupp made his 500th career NHL appearance. Prust has registered 47 points (20 goals, 27 assists) and 461 penalty minutes with the Rangers, Calgary Flames and Phoenix Coyotes. The five-year NHL veteran has tallied 15% of his career points while shorthanded (five goals, two assists). Rupp has recorded 89 points (49 goals, 40 assists) and 661 penalty minutes in nine seasons with the Rangers, New Jersey Devils, Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins.
-The Rangers have posted a record of 281-271-93 all-time in the month of October, including a 176-117-48 mark at home and a 105-154-45 record on the road. New York (0-1-2) is scheduled to play 10 games during the season's opening month in 2011-12, with three games being contested at MSG and seven scheduled on the road.
-Legendary Rangers' defenseman Brian Leetch holds the franchise record for most points in the month of October, having registered 43 goals and 130 assists for 173 career points in the season's opening month.
-The Blueshirts' all-time leader for most career wins in the month of October is Mike Richter, who registered 40 career wins during the season's opening month. Henrik Lundqvist has recorded 33 career wins during the month of October.
-New York has posted two, seven-game winning streaks in the month of October, winning seven consecutive games during the season's opening month in 2009-10 (Oct. 3 vs. Ottawa to Oct. 17 at Toronto) and 1988-89 (Oct. 16 vs. Vancouver to Oct. 30 vs. Pittsburgh).
COUNTDOWN TO 2,500 WINS
The Rangers are currently 16 wins shy of 2,500 wins, having won 2,484 games all-time in franchise history.
GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
Brad Richards currently leads the team in scoring with three points, and enters the contest with a three-game scoring streak (one goal, two assists over the span). He has registered a point in each of his first three games as a Ranger to begin the season. In addition, Richards has also won 24-of-30 faceoff attempts for an NHL-leading 80.0% faceoff winning percentage.
MILESTONES IN SIGHT:
-Brian Boyle: 8 games from 200th NHL career
-Steve Eminger: 9 points from 100th NHL career
-Brad Richards: 2 assists from 500th NHL career
-Wojtek Wolski: 6 games from 400th NHL career; 9 goals from 100th NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
-Tim Erixon: 1st career NHL game (10/7 at LAK)
-Brandon Prust: 200th career NHL game (10/15 at NYI)
-Mike Rupp: 500th career NHL game (10/15 at NYI)
-Marc Staal (concussion, IR on 10/5) - 3
-Wojtek Wolski (groin, 10/7) - 2
-Michael Sauer (shoulder, 10/8) - 1
Total Man-Games Lost: 6
-Oct. 15 - Recalled forward Kris Newbury from Connecticut (AHL)
-Oct. 15 - Assigned forward Mats Zuccarello to Connecticut (AHL)
-Oct. 16 - Recalled defenseman Brendan Bell from Connecticut (AHL)