New York Rangers (44-18-7) at Carolina Hurricanes (26-35-9)
|Date & Time||Saturday March 21, 2015, 7:00 PM (EDT)|
The Line: Carolina Hurricanes +144 / New York Rangers -160 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The New York Rangers still control their own destiny in regards to capturing the President’s Trophy as the team who finished the regular season with the league’s best record. For a club that lost in the Stanley Cup Finals last season because they were unable to win a game in Los Angeles in three attempts, that’s a pretty big carrot to dangle. The Rangers had won five straight games heading into Wednesday night’s contest with the Chicago Blackhawks. A week earlier the two teams met in Chicago and played a scoreless game until Derick Brassard won the game for New York in overtime. This time it was the Blackhawks who snapped the scoreless tie late in the third period when ex-Ranger Brad Richard scored the only goal of the game to snap New York’s winning streak. New York is still waiting on the return of Henrik Lundqvist who has been out since early February with a vascular injury. In his absence the club has gotten tremendous play from backup Cam Talbot. In fact, this recent hot streak that the Rangers have been on has coincided with Talbot’s entry into the lineup. That doesn’t mean that Lundqvist won’t be the go-to guy once he returns, but it does give Alain Vigneault another option if Lundqvist struggles upon his return. This team found itself in the Stanley Cup Finals last season and the expectations are that they return there and win it this time around. Lundqvist is typically a slow starter during the regular season and usually needs a month or more to really find his groove. If Lundqvist doesn’t return until the very end of the regular season there might not be enough time to really get him back to the level he needs to be at. It will be interesting to see how Lundqvist performs and what kind of leash Vigneault has on him.
The Carolina Hurricanes are playing out the string and really struggling in the process. Heading into Saturday night’s match up with New York the Hurricanes have lost seven of their last nine games overall. Thursday night in Montreal they found themselves behind the eight ball early on and were never able to recover. Dale Weise and Brendan Gallagher scored goals less than three minutes apart in the opening period and that would be more than enough for the Canadiens on this night. Carolina was left to play from behind and though they controlled the game over the final two periods they just couldn’t solve Carey Price. The Hurricanes out shot the Canadiens 27-12 over the final 40 minutes but Price made every save as they fell by a final of 4-0. Anthon Khudobin allowed four goals on just 22 shots to take the loss. The Hurricanes are going to have a slim chance during the draft lottery of getting a top two overall pick, which is what they would need in order to be able to draft a franchise changing type of player. Carolina has what it takes to be competitive some nights but they’re also trying to incorporate a lot of younger players at this point in the season. It’s hard to get a feel for the direction that this organization is going in right now but this is going to be a key off season for them.
This is a dangerous spot for New York as they play on Sunday at home against the Anaheim Ducks. It’s a potential look ahead spot and for a club that has really struggled offensively lately that’s not a good thing. Keith Yandle has done nothing to help a struggling power play and the Rangers always seem to play interesting games in Carolina.