“Let’s Play Two!”
While the old-time Baseball saying isn’t completely spot on, you get the idea.
Just 24 hours after the Rangers eked out a win over the worst-in-the-NHL Coyotes, they will take on the best-in-the-West Golden Knights. Quite the contrast right?
And if the Blueshirts’ performance against Arizona is any indication, the visitors could be in for Trouble with a capital “T.”
Thankfully the 7th Avenue Skaters have three things going for them:
One, they beat the Golden Knights back on Halloween at MSG; using a four-goal third period to seal their 6-4 comeback win.
Two, history says the Blueshirts are 21-5-3-0 the first time they face a new franchise on the road.
And three, the Rangers are 67-29-6 in the second half of back-to-back sets since the start of the 2010-11 season.
What does all that mean?
It could mean nothing. Or it could mean everything.
Only the Blueshirts know the answer to that — at least until game time.
DEEP ROOTED CONNECTIONS
Oscar Lindberg started his career playing three seasons with the Rangers (2014-2017). Then, on June 21, 2017, Lindberg was claimed by Vegas in the NHL Expansion Draft.
Vegas General Manager George McPhee opened his NHL career with the Rangers, playing parts of four seasons in New York (1983-1987).
There will be a family feel to this game as the Smith brothers — Brendan and Reilly — face-off.
Mats Zuccarello: Arguably the best playmaker on the Blueshirts, Zuccarello is one assist away from 200 in his career.
Henrik Lundqvist: The King is the Ranger’s franchise wins leader, and he’s set to add another milestone to his legacy. Lundqvist’s next win will be the 20th of his season; becoming the first goalie in NHL history to win 20 plus games in each of his first 13 seasons. And no goalie has ever won 20 plus games in 13 straight seasons at any point in their career.
PLAYER TO WATCH
GOLDEN KNIGHTS: JONATHAN MARCHESSAULT. The 27-year-old centre just signed a six-year/$30 million contract extension to stay in Vegas. His strong season, coupled with his recent stretch of 13 points in nine games suggests the Golden Knights got him at a very team-friendly rate.
RANGERS: RICK NASH. The 33-year-old winger is in the midst of a contract year and that’s important. But unlike most athletes — generally athletes have career-best seasons in contract years — Nash is having the worst campaign of his career. He’s gone nine straight games without a point and has just two goals in his last 22 contests. He’s also registering points at the worst rate of his career with a 0.43 points per game mark. Nash is too talented to be this bad for much longer right?
Mats Zuccarello unexpectedly missed the Blueshirts’ game in Arizona with the flu; no word on whether he’ll be recovered in time for the second half of this back-to-back set.
Henrik Lundqvist started and won the first half of the Rangers’ back-to-back against Arizona; no word on whether Alain Vigneault will send him back out there for Game Two against Vegas.
The rest of the lineup should remain the same as it was against the Coyotes.
WHERE TO WATCH
The game will be broadcast on MSG Network at 9:30pm ET. For in-game coverage follow our Twitter account @NYRBlueBulletin.
Remember, the first rule of Vegas; “the house always wins.”
The Blueshirts want to be the exception to the rule.
In the city built on games of chance — and partially on skill — the Rangers hope to flip the script on their gritty yet glamorous hosts.