Hard hitting Rangers take on struggling Canucks
The New York Rangers came back from the All-Star Break with a willingness to get rough and rowdy. In Monday’s 5-4 comeback overtime win over the Calgary Flames, Jacob Trouba threw six hits, with two monster bombs that led to fights. Sammy Blais also delivered a bone-cruncher that led to all 10 skaters on the ice mixing it up.
“Wherever that came from I don’t know,” Gerard Gallant joked. “There were big hits and a bunch of a fights going on. I don’t know, first game back maybe the guys were pissed that the break was too short.”
Tonight, the Rangers will host the Vancouver Canucks looking for their third straight win on this four-game home stand.
Editor’s note: Corrected number of games on home stand
Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:
New York Rangers (28-14-8) vs. Vancouver Canucks (20-26-4)
Date/Time: February 8, 2023 at 8:00 PM ET
Arena: Madison Square Garden
Radio: ESPN 98.7
New York Rangers host Vancouver Canucks
While hockey fans and analysts touted the Rangers vs Flames game as one of the best NHL contests this season, it’s unlikely we’ll see the same combustible atmosphere against the Canucks. Vancouver is on a 4-11-1 stretch, have a new head coach in Rick Tocchet, and traded away leading goal scorer Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders during the All-Star Break.
The Blueshirts were led on the ice by their youngsters with Alexis Lafreniere notching the game-winner and Filip Chytil scoring twice against Calgary.
Chytil, 23, is up to 18 goals on the season riding a hot streak of 14 points in his last 12 games. Since January 3rd, his 10 goals ranks 4th in the NHL. Fans also showed their appreciation for his play by chanting “CHYTIL – CHYTIL” during the game.
“I wasn’t sure that was (my name),” Chytil laughed. “Laffy tapped my shoulder and said ‘They’re saying your name’. I was like, ‘maybe, I don’t know?’ But Laffy was the first to hear it… Feels good and it just motivates me to be better.”
Head coach Gerard Gallant reunited the Kid Line on January 23, and they’ve taken off by playing with a boatload of confidence. The Blueshirts are also 3-0-1 since the line changes and although tweaks are expected with the NHL Trade Deadline coming, that trio should remain together for the foreseeable future.
Against the Flames, Gallant also unveiled a new big fourth line with the return of Sammy Blais from his conditioning stint with the Hartford Wolf Pack.
Jake Leschyshyn centered Will Cuylle and Blais to give the Blueshirts a formidable unit with great size and decent speed. Not only did they dish out big hits and got involved in scrums, they even had a few good scoring chances.
“From what we need those players to do, I was happy with their game,” Gallant said. “I really was.”
Gallant did surprise a few people, including me, by starting Jaroslav Halak out of the break. Although he wasn’t great, the veteran netminder recorded his sixth straight win and seventh in his last eight contests.
Expected tonight will be Igor Shesterkin, who has a career record against the Canucks of 0-0-1 with a GAA of 2.89 and a .917 save percentage.
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