Last spring, the Carolina Hurricanes were defeated by the New York Rangers in a tight, seven-game series. The elimination was a disappointment in an otherwise successful season.
Shaking off the disappointment, the Hurricanes have responded well this season under Rod Brind’Amour.
The Rangers have taken a step back thus far but still, have plenty of firepower.
Tonight, Carolina visits the world’s most famous arena to take on the division rival. Days after the ball dropped in Times Square to ring in the New Year, the Hurricanes look to continue a record-winning streak.
Although the Rangers have played inconsistently to start the season, they are 7-2-1 in their last ten games.
The last game against the Florida Panthers was another high scoring match up as the Rangers won by a score of 5 to 3.
The two prior games were losses to the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Washington Capitals.
The Rangers have struggled on home ice this season, having an 8-7-4 record. On the other hand, the Hurricanes have had much success on the road with a 13-3-5 record.
The Hurricanes have made some breathing room in the division, pulling ahead of the New Jersey Devils by 7 points.
Having 10 points less than Carolina, the Rangers sit with 46 points and sole possession of the top wild card spot.
The Rangers have a strong power-play with the skills of Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Adam Fox leading the way.
Panarin leads the team with 43 points and 33 assists. Right behind him is Zibanejad with 41 points and 11 power-play goals.
Chris Kreider has continued to score goals after a strong season, having lit the lamp 17 times this season.
From the blue line, Fox continues to rack up the assists with 30 and 13 of those helpers have been on the power-play.
After this group of players the production has decreased for some disappointing youth in former first round picks, Alexis Lafreniere and Kaapo Kakko.
Old friend, Vincent Trocheck, has quietly had a strong season in New York with 30 points and 13 goals.
The reigning Vezina Trophy winner, Igor Shesterkin, has played well with 17 wins and a 2.41 GAA in 28 games played.
The Rangers speed and skill at the top will be a handful for the Hurricanes’ defensive group, but the Jordan Staal line will have a lot of the responsibility keeping those players quiet.
With the Rangers speed and skill comes a weakness for the counter-attack. The Hurricanes will need to stay out of the box and pick their spots to make a rush.
It will be interesting to see if Brind’Amour stays with Antti Raanta against his former club or re-enter Pyotr Kochetkov after a long rest.
My guess is Raanta gets one more start, while Kochetkov is ready for a home contest against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.