Hmm, which way will this game go?
Will the Rangers win? Or will the Hurricanes emerge victorious?
You might ask, how is this any different from any other game?
Well, the Rangers have won 14-straight contests at MSG against Carolina. That streak stretches back to January 5, 2011 and is the longest such streak in franchise history against any one opponent.
If this were any other year, you would do well to think the Blueshirts will come out on top. But this isn’t any other year.
The ‘Canes are in the thick of the playoff race, while the Rangers are cellar-dwellers.
Talk about your role reversal.
What will the outcome be?
If you’re too impatient to wait for the game then flip a coin. If not, then turn your television channel to MSG and watch.
DEEP ROOTED CONNECTIONS
The Staal Brothers — Marc (Rangers) and Jordan (Carolina) — along with Eric (Minnesota), are the only trio of brothers in the history of Big Four Sports (NHL, NFL, MLB and NBA) who were all selected 12th overall or higher in their respective Drafts.
With the 157th overall pick (sixth-round) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft the Rangers selected Jesper Fast. They were in possession of the pick thanks to a trade with Carolina.
Mats Zuccarello: The scrappy winger is two goals away from 100 in his NHL career.
Mika Zibanejad: The Rangers’ top-line center is two goals away from 100 in his NHL career.
Zibanejad is also four games away from 400 in his career.
Kevin Hayes: The Blueshirts’ do-it-all-center is three assists shy of 100 in his NHL career. Hayes is also three games away from 300 in his career.
PLAYER TO WATCH
HURRICANES: JORDAN STAAL. Emotionally and mentally Jordan Staal is having the toughest year of his career. But, Staal does have three points in five games since returning from a personal leave of absence to deal with a family tragedy. Nobody should have to go through what Jordan has dealt with and he can expect a rousing ovation when he’s introduced at MSG.
RANGERS: KEVIN HAYES. The Rangers’ second-line center is having one odd year. He started the season off as a checking-center. But since the Trade Deadline he’s been shooting the puck more. And because of that, he now has 20 goals in a season for the first time in his career. The sky’s the limit for the talented-center.
Kevin Shattenkirk has been rotating in during practice for awhile now and is set to return very soon. How soon? Only the team doctors and Kevin can answer that.
David Desharnais is out with kidney stones. And for his sake, we hope they pass quickly.
Meanwhile, some line shuffling appears to be the only change to the lineup.
WHERE TO WATCH
The game will be broadcast on MSG Networks at 7 pm ET. For in-game coverage check out our Twitter account @NYRBlueBulletin.
What a turn of events.
The last time these teams faced-off, the Rangers were in the thick of the playoff race and Carolina was a cellar-dweller.
These teams didn’t see that coming when they last met.