The Rangers will clash with their second straight Canadian opponent Thursday night when the NHL-leading Vancouver Canucks come to the Garden. Here are three factors to focus on when the puck drops.
In the immediate wake of the Michal Rozsival trade, the Rangers seemed to respond well. The slightly thinner, younger blue line didn’t seem overmatched and the newly acquired Wojtek Wolski looked to have some instant chemistry with Marian Gaborik. But how will they look tonight? Averaging 3.40 goals per game, the Canucks are the second-highest scoring team in the league. Those young D-men will certainly get a good test.
The Sedin twins have become the face of the Canucks, but Ryan Kesler has exploded with 24 goals to earn his first all-star appearance this season. Kesler would fit right in on the Rangers in many respects as a player willing to wear the blue collar in order to get the job done on the ice. Sometimes that effort disguises goal-scoring talent and the Blueshirts can’t let that happen Thursday night. They’ll need to be aware of where Kesler is on the ice at all times.
It’s safe to say the Canucks will make you pay for taking a bad penalty. Converting their power play chances at a league-high 24.7 percent, there is no team more lethal with the man advantage. The best way to stop them? Don’t give them the power play in the first place. To do so, the Rangers will likely need to cut back on their penalty minutes per game average, which currently stands at 14.3, the 24th highest in the league.