With 26 games remaining, the 11th seeded Rangers (27-24-5, 59 pts) know they have their work cut out for them. They'll have to leap over three teams just to qualify for a second consecutive postseason. In order for that to happen, they'll need to continue to take care of business starting tonight in Raleigh against the defending champs. The seventh seeded Hurricanes (29-23-7, 65 pts) are six points clear of the Blueshirts which makes the third match-up of four this season even more vital. The teams split the first two games back in November. After tonight, the final match-up is set for March 11 at The Garden.
Coming off an impressive weekend with back-to-back road wins in Tampa and Washington, the Rangers are aiming for their third straight win. To say two points is a must would be an understatement. With the Islanders and Leafs also ahead of them, any slip up could prove costly.
The keys for Tom Renney's club are simple:
1.Continue to get offensive balance and roll four lines
2.New look power play continues production
3.Defense continues to play better
4.Henrik Lundqvist continues to play like a King
Do these things and they'll have continued success tonight.
Pascal Dupuis will make his Rangers debut tonight on the third line while Petr Prucha shifts to the fourth line in place of Colton Orr.
Meanwhile, the Islanders host the hapless Bruins while the Maple Leafs visit rejuvenated Philly. Sixth seeded Tampa plays host to Washington. Also of note, Eastern leading Buffalo will host Edmonton. They lead the idle Devils by just four points.