New York Rangers face Canadiens in obvious trap game

The New York Rangers head to Montreal facing a struggling Canadiens team that has lost nine of its last 10 contests (1-8-1). After a big emotional win over the red-hot Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, everything about this match screams trap game.

“You have to play with that same intensity every single night,” Vincent Trocheck cautioned. “Any NHL hockey team is going to beat any NHL hockey team. We’ve got to go in there with the same mentality that we’re playing a good team and we have to play the right way in order to win.”

Here’s tonight’s game and broadcast info:

New York Rangers (21-12-6) vs. Montreal Canadiens (15-20-3)
Date/Time: January 5, 2023 at 7:00 PM ET
Arena: Bell Centre
TV: MSG
Radio: ESPN 98.7

New York Rangers vs Montreal Canadiens

Artturi Lehkonen Rangers
Oct 16, 2021; Montreal, Quebec, CAN; New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin (31) makes a save against Montreal Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen (62) during the second period at the Bell Centre. Mandatory Credit: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

The Blueshirts have gone 10-2-1 in their last 13 games and are trying to string together some wins in the new year. After a 1-2-1 hiccup around the holiday break, they’ve won their last two and are looking for three in a row.

A rousing third period rally in their last game saw the team rattle off three unanswered goals in the final stanza to snap Carolina’s string of 11 straight wins. The victory also ended the Canes string of 17 consecutive games without a loss in regulation.

“They’ve been one of the hottest teams in the NHL,” Gerard Gallant said afterwards. “It’s a big win and a good win for us. We just have to continue and build off games like this.”

There’s no lineup changes expected tonight which means Igor Shesterkin should be back in between the pipes.

Shesterkin has a career mark versus Montreal of 2-0-0 with a GAA of 1.51 and a .954 save percentage.

Update: Jaroslav Halak gets the start. See lineup projections here.

The big news yesterday coming out of the Rangers optional skate was the 2-year extension awarded to gritty forward Jimmy Vesey with a team friendly AAV of just $800,000.

“It came together pretty quickly,” Vesey said. “It’s a really good feeling and nice to have a little stability. The last few summers have been very stressful for me not having a contract, waIting around and coming to camp on PTOs. It’s a great feeling. I love being here.”

This season, the 29 year-old has posted six goals and 12 points in 38 contests. Vesey’s work on the PK, where he has one shorthanded goal on the year was likely the key reason for the extension. Vesey also ranks second on the team in fewest power play goals against per/60 with a minimum of 50 minutes played on the PK.

Another player to keep an eye on is Kaapo Kakko, who has registered three assists and a +4 rating in his last three games. The young winger’s improved play has caught the attention of his head coach.

“He’s been one of our best players the last three games,” Gallant noted. “He’s been a good player all year but I’ve found the last three games he’s gone to another level.”

Kakko, 21, has 9 goals and 18 points in 39 games this season.

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