The Carolina Hurricanes storm Madison Square Garden Wednesday night. Here are three factors to focus on when the puck drops.
The Little Things That Kill
The Rangers have dropped their last two games and scored just one goal between both contests. Rick Carpiniello pointed out a few days back that the Rangers had started slipping, playing sloppy at times and making the sort of mistakes that lead to losing streaks. Lazy passes, failing to cleanly exit the defensive zone and blue line turnovers have all piled up and, guess what, the Rangers are on a losing skid. Look for the Rangers to pay a little more attention to those key details tonight.
A New Spark Plug
With Ryan Callahan sidelined, most expected the Rangers to fall off in the energy department. The epitome of the team’s blue-collar, grinding work ethic, Callahan’s absence didn’t seem to hurt the team too much at first, but these past two games it’s been clear he’s been missed. The team needs someone to ratchet up the juice and set a tone tonight. My money’s on Brandon Dubinsky.
The First 20
Speaking of energy, the Rangers will need to get out of the gates fast. The Canes love to jump on opponents early and are lethal when they take a lead into the first intermission. Carolina’s winning at a .909 clip after taking the lead into the locker room following the first period, the fifth best mark in the league. That’s a testament to goalie Cam Ward and underrated D-man Tim Gleason who make those leads stand up over 60 minutes.