Tale of the tape for Rangers vs. Hurricanes heavyweight bout

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Danny Wild-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes will square off against one another for the final time in the regular season on Tuesday night. These two Metropolitan Division heavyweights are separated by only four points for the division lead, held by New York for the majority of the season. Tuesday night’s contest has “main event” written all over it.

Tale of the Tape: Rangers vs. Hurricanes

NHL: Carolina Hurricanes at New York Rangers
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Season series

11/2/2023 – NYR 2 – CAR 1
1/2/2024 – CAR 6 – NYR 1

The Rangers and Hurricanes have split their season series, so far. Chris Kreider has two goals for New York in the two games and Andrei Svechnikov also has scored a pair for Carolina. Brady Skjei, the former Blueshirts defenseman leads all players with three points (all assists). The Hurricanes are 3-for-6 on the power play

The second match up was a nightmare for New York. The Hurricanes dominated the Rangers, winning 6-1, and caused the start of New York’s worst month this season. They posted a record of 5-7-2 in the month of January, lowlighted by a four-game losing streak.

Winner: TBD

Forwards

On paper, the Rangers have the edge in terms of offensive production from their top five forwards. As a team, Carolina has three more goals on the season than New York, but the Rangers have the edge in goal differential by one.

NYR – Top 5 Forwards CAR – Top 5 Forwards
Panarin – 87 pts Aho – 68 pts
Trocheck – 61 pts Guentzel – 52 pts
Kreider – 59 pts Jarvis – 50 pts
Zibanejad – 55 pts Teravainen – 47 pts
Lafreniere – 39 pts Necas – 45 pts

Depending on his status, Jake Guentzel could very well make his Hurricanes debut against the Rangers on Tuesday. He, along with Evgeny Kuznetsov, are two forwards acquired by Carolina at the trade deadline that gives them some serious depth.

The Rangers made some moves of their own. Alex Wennberg and Jack Roslovic have fit in nicely since being acquired by New York before the deadline. These two teams have great depth at forward, and are very close in terms of production. It is gearing up to be a close contest.

Winner: New York Rangers

Related: Matt Rempe faces suspension for Rangers

Defensemen

New York’s defense is highlighted by the top pairing of Adam Fox and Ryan Lindgren. Fox has 51 points (10 goals, 41 assists) in 53 games, along with a plus-16. Lindgren is right beside him at plus-16, and has been solid defensively all season. They will be without Jacob Trouba, who is expected to miss 2-3 weeks with a lower-body injury, leaving a hole on their blue line. Zac Jones has filled in well. But it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the relentless Hurricanes forecheck.

Carolina does not have a single starting defensemen in the negative in terms of plus/minus. Their top two pairs of Jaccob Slavin and Brent Burns, along with Brady Skjei and Brett Pesce, are among the best in the NHL. Carolina’s experience and depth on defense gives them the edge in this one.

Winner: Carolina Hurricanes

Goalies

With Jonathan Quick getting the start Monday night against New Jersey, expect Igor Shesterkin to start Tuesday. Shesterkin has rebounded nicely after struggling in January. In the month of February, Shesterkin was a perfect 7-0-0 with a .953 save percentage and a 1.72 goals-against average. On the season, he is 27-13-2, and has a .912 save percentage along with a 2.60 GAA.

For Carolina, Frederik Andersen has just returned from an extended stay on the injured list. He was in net in the 2-1 Rangers victory and played well, making 24 saves on 26 shots. He is 6-1-0 with a .904 save percentage and a 2.49 GAA this season. The Hurricanes may elect to go with Pyotr Kochetjov, who is in the conversation for the Calder Trophy this season. He holds a 17-11-3 record with a .910 save percentage and 2.39 GAA.

Winner: New York Rangers

Special teams

Powerplay Penalty Kill
CAR – 26.4% (3rd) CAR – 85.0% (3rd)
NYR – 25.4% (6th) NYR – 83.7% (5th)

The Rangers led the league in power-play percentage for quite some time to start the season. At one point, they were hovering around an incredible 32 percent. They’ve been up and down since, though did score three power-play goals on Saturday against the St. Louis Blues. Their PK has been excellent all season and is now fortified with the addition. Carolina has only three power-play goals in its past nine games but maintains a slight edge over New York in both categories. Expect special teams to have a large impact in the game Tuesday and if these rivals meet in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this spring.

Winner: Carolina Hurricanes

Coaches

Of course, Peter Laviolette of the Rangers and Rod Brind’Amour of the Hurricanes have history together, as Laviolette coached Brind’Amour to a Stanley Cup championship with Carolina in 2006. Now, they go head-to-head as coaches of teams battling for first place in the same division.

Simply, they are two of the best coaches in the NHL. Each is legit Jack Adams Award candidate this season. It’s splitting hairs as to which is better.

Winner: Tied

Without question, this will be the most important game of the season for both the Rangers and Hurricanes to this point. The two teams are very evenly matched. Should they meet in the playoffs, it could easily go seven games. Tuesday night should be a great battle to determine who wins the season series between these divisional favorites.

A win in regulation by the Rangers extends their lead in the Metro to six points with 17 games to play. A Hurricanes victory in regulation cuts that Blueshirts lead to two points.

Game On!

Dane Walsh is a life-long fan of the New York Rangers. Growing up in the tri-state area, Dane has... More about Dane Walsh

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