Tonight, the Hurricanes will meet the New York Rangers for the first time since the bubble where… a certain Carolina Hurricane ended the career of a Rangers defenseman who is now a teammate because of course he is. Anywho, a lot of the Canes will face their former teammates as the New York Rangers come to town to fight the Canes for the lead of the NHL’s Metropolitan division.
In a game that promises a lot of talent, there’s a simple way for Carolina to keep this a winnable fixture. Keep the Rangers star Russian out of the game. Carolina’s forward core is deeper than that of their New York-based opponents and the team defense is stronger for the hockey club from the City of Oaks than it is for the team from the Big Apple. Something the visitors from the concrete jungle will be more confident in is their goaltending.
Carolina will need to break through the New York Russians. With the forward capable of putting this game way out of reach of the Canes, they will need to shut him down, but the Rangers’ Russian netminder is also a key issue the team will need to figure out. If they cannot get through the goalie the Rangers elect to use tonight, they are going to be shooting for a long time. Beat him early and often is the best bet.
Tonight’s winner will claim the undisputed top spot in the Metropolitan division. Unless the Hurricanes lose that is, then we just wait until they win their games in hand and pass the Rangers again. But a win tonight would put the Canes in a commanding position when they look down on the rest of the division. They’re not just one of the best teams in hockey, but tonight could be a platform to show they’re the pride of the Metro.