Tonight the Rangers begin their three game tour of the Pacific Division and they will face no steeper challenge on the road trip than their matchup with the Vancouver Canucks tonight at 10PM EST. The Canucks are currently third in the Pacific despite a record of 4-6-3 in their last ten games, but like the Rangers they are coming off of a definitive victory and are looking to build off of it.
The Canucks have an average GF/G and a below-average GA/G which is thanks in part to the over-the-hill Ryan Miller who has another year left on his contract before he is an unrestricted free agent. Even with the Sedin twins still making some magic and Daniel Sedin having five power play goals on the season the Canucks' power play has not been the threat that it has been known to be in the past.
Of course the Canucks and former Ranger Brandon Prust grabbed some headlines in the hockey world after Brad Marchand suffered an assault directly to his nether regions from Prust that earned the bottom six player a $5,000 fine.
What did Prust have to say for himself after the incident and the subsequent fine?
For Canucks Coverage: Nucks Misconduct
Injuries: Luca Sbisa is day-to-day with a hand injury and has missed the last few games for Vancouver and Brandon Sutter is out until as late as mid-January thanks to a sports hernia.
The Rangers "won" the season series in 2014-15 by going 1-0-1 against Alain Vigneault's former team. Both teams won their games against one another last season on the road and Mats Zuccarello had three points in the season series. The Canucks' victory came in the shootout at the Garden. The key to victory for tonight's late road game for the Rangers will be making life difficult for Ryan Miller and shutting down the Sedin twins who, although they are no longer fleet of foot, have a combined 58 points this season. To put that number into perspective, the Rangers' top three scorers (Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, and Rick Nash) have 60 combined total points.
Tonight's game against the Canucks is the first of three games that the Rangers will play on the road in the next four days. On Friday the Rangers will cross sticks with Taylor Hall and the Edmonton Oilers and on Saturday night the Blueshirts will visit the Calgary Flames. Finding two points tonight to start the road trip that is perilously close to the Arctic Circle will go a long way in getting the Rangers back on track. The Blueshirts are coming off of a 4-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators and have the opportunity to beat four straight Canadian teams this week which feels like it must be a rather rare occurrence.
Thanks for reading. Let's go Rangers.