Rangers begin Western Canada trip against Canucks
Tuesday, 11.03.2009 / 4:00 PM
RANGERS (9-5-1) at CANUCKS (8-7-0)
New York 5-4-1; Vancouver 6-4-0
This is the only meeting between the squads this season. The Canucks took the only meeting last season, 6-3, at Madison Square Garden as Alex Burrows scored twice and Roberto Luongo
made 39 saves.
Both teams are coming off home shutout wins on Sunday after road losses Friday. For the Rangers, it's the first of three this week in Western Canada while the Canucks are heading out for five straight on the road after tonight's game. They won't play again at GM Place until Nov. 20.
Marian Gaborik was back in the lineup Sunday and scored a goal while Henrik Lundqvist stopped everything Boston threw at him. For one game, all was right in the Rangers' world again.
Well, maybe not all. They still only scored one goal against the Bruins and have just four in the last three games. Lately they've looked more like Tom Renney's Rangers than John Tortorella's Rangers.
New York scored 30 goals during its seven-game winning streak last month, but has just 18 goals over its last seven games (2-4-1). Christopher Higgins, who the Rangers were hoping to get between 20-30 goals, hasn't scored yet this season but was actually bumped to the top line with Gaborik and Vinny Prospal in Monday's practice because he's been playing better of late. He played 23 shifts totaling 16:17 Sunday. That's the most he's played in seven games.
The good news for the injury-depleted Canucks is captain and goalie Roberto Luongo
skated Monday for the first time since going on injured reserve with a cracked rib. He won't play against New York, but he could join the club on its upcoming road trip. The other good news is that Luongo's replacement, Andrew Raycroft, made 18 saves in Sunday's 3-0 win over Colorado after giving up four goals on 22 shots before being pulled in Friday's 7-2 loss to Anaheim.
The bad news is that Henrik Sedin
has gone cold with only one assist and a minus-2 rating in the last three games. And winger Michael Grabner injured his ankle prior to Sunday's game, adding to Vancouver's lengthy injury list that already includes Luongo, Daniel Sedin
, Pavol Demitra, Ryan Johnson, Jannik Hansen
and Alexandre Bolduc
Lundqvist is coming off his first shutout of the season. He made 29 saves to best the Bruins. Prospal has assisted on the Rangers last two goals and has points in 13 of 15 games. Ryan Kesler
had a goal, an assist and was a plus-2 in Vancouver's win over Colorado. Mason Raymond has goals in each of the last two games.
The Rangers could be without Enver Lisin (foot), who did not participate in Monday's practice. The Canucks will definitely be without Luongo, Daniel Sedin
, Demitra, Johnson, Hansen, Bolduc and Grabner.
Raycroft is 4-3-1 with a .895 save percentage and 3.28 goals-against average in 10 career appearances against the Rangers. Lundqvist is 0-2 with a 5.65 GAA in two career appearances against the Canucks. … The Rangers haven't won in Vancouver since Oct. 1, 1997.
The Canucks brought back an old friend Monday when they signed free agent Matt Pettinger, who had six points in 20 games with Vancouver at the end of the 2007-08 season after getting traded from Washington. Pettinger played 59 games with Tampa Bay last season, but was playing on a 25-game pro tryout contract with the Canucks' AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. He had four points in seven games.
"I said Matt, we have a lot of injuries right now and you've got an opportunity to play and you've got to make the best of it," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. "I said last year, guys outplayed you for a position and if you come in, outplay those guys, then you're going to stay."
-- Dan Rosen, NHL.com