The Canadiens (10-4-1) are in the Big Apple Tuesday night to face the Rangers (8-5-1) hot off the heels of their fourth straight victory, a 3-0 shutout over the Carolina Hurricanes. The game is set to start at 7:00 and can be seen on RDS and TSN-Habs.
This is the first of three meeting between the Habs and Rangers, they’ll meet again in Montreal this Saturday. Last year the teams split their four meetings, with each team picking up a pair of wins on home ice.
What to Watch:
Although it probably wasn’t his best shot of the season, Max Pacioretty scored his first goal this year in Monday’s win against the Hurricanes. Patches lobbed a puck towards Cam Ward’s net from beyond the red line but the bouncing puck fooled the former Conn Smythe winner. Although he hasn’t been scoring much, Pacioretty has remained productive, he now has 9 assists in 11 games.
Carey Price has missed the last two games for the Habs while he recovered from the flu, but Peter Budaj has filled in admirably in his absence. Budaj has allowed just one goal against in his last two games, so Michel Therrien may be tempted to let Price have another day of rest before bringing him back into action.
The Rangers have plenty of marquee players to watch out for this season. Big names like Rick Nash, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards lead the way for the Blueshirts, the trio has scored 12 of New York’s 37 goals this season. Sophomore Carl Hagelin has looked good recently as well, he has 5 goals and 2 assists in his last 4 games. Hagelin’s 6 goals on the season puts him in second place on the team, just one goal shy of Gaborik.
What’s at Stake:
The Canadiens are riding a 4-game win streak that has moved them into top spot in the Northeast division and has them challenging for first place in the East. It’s a turnaround nobody was really expecting after last season, but the Habs show no signs of slowing down anytime soon. Montreal’s defense has been impressive recently after a series of meltdowns that saw them blow two third period leads a couple of weeks ago, not to mention the 6-0 beating handed down to them by the Leafs to finish off their worst string of games this year.
But the Canadiens seem to have put all that behind them, they’ve given up just 1 goal in their last 9 periods of play.
Despite the slew of players that weren’t able to finish Saturday’s game, only Brendan Gallagher (concussion) didn’t suit up for Monday’s victory. Petteri Nokelainen (back) is also out for the Habs.
The Rangers are missing Darroll Powe (concussion) and Michael Sauer (concussion). Powe was injured in New York’s win over the Caps on Sunday, Sauer on the other hand was injured in December 2011.
With Monday’s win over the Hurricanes, the Habs improved to 8-0-0 against teams outside their division. They’ve now beaten every team in the Southeast and will get a chance to accomplish the same feat against Atlantic division teams in the coming days.
Montreal has already beaten the Devils and the Flyers, and after facing the Rangers on Tuesday they’ll be hosting the Islanders this Thursday. If their perfect record is still intact at the beginning of March, the Habs will get the chance to complete their sweep of out-of-division teams Saturday, March 2, when they host the Penguins.
Be sure to tune into the Montreal Hockey Talk Pregame Show an hour before the puck drop and the Post Game Show 5 minutes after the final siren.