At a glance: The 13-5-3 Rangers look to extend their winning streak to four games against the new-look Hurricanes in Carolina. The Blueshirts will face the struggling ‘Canes for the first time since former Islander and Devil Kirk Muller replaced Paul Maurice as head coach.
Beating the best: The Rangers square off against the lowly Hurricanes ( three straight losses, 3-6-1 in their last ten games) after knocking off three of the best teams in the East: Washington, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. The Rangers currently rank 5th in the Eastern Conference with 29 points, only three points behind the first-place Penguins.
Biron back between pipes: Backup goaltender Martin Biron will make his first start since giving up four goals in the team’s 4-0 shutout loss in Montreal November 19. Biron has been otherwise spectacular in his three other starts; he is 3-1-0 with a .937 save percentage, 1.68 goals against average and one shutout in five appearances this season. The 34-year-old netminder is 10-4-0 in 16 career starts against Carolina.
Sticking around: John Mitchell and Carl Hagelin, who were called up from the AHL’s Connecticut Whale last Thursday, will play in their fourth straight game since being summoned Thanksgiving night. Both players enter the game having recorded a point in each of the last three contests.
Special teams: The Rangers have tallied a power-play goal in each of their last three games; during that span they have gone 4-for-13 (30.8%) with the man-advantage.
Staal speaks: Marc Staal spoke for the first time since training camp this September, when he revealed he was still battling post-concussions symptoms from a hit delivered by older brother Eric in a game last February. Staal, who began skating lightly on his own Monday, said he expects to play this season but not anytime soon. “It’s a long ways away,” he told reporters after the team’s morning skate in Raleigh, N.C.
Deveaux clears waivers, sent to Connecticut: 27-year-old forward Andre Deveaux cleared waivers and has been assigned to the team’s minor-league affiliate in Hartford, CT the Rangers announced Thursday afternoon. Deveaux, who recently served a three-game suspension for his elbow on Florida’s Tomas Fleischmann last week, had one assist and 29 penalty minutes in nine games for the Rangers this season.
Bottom line: During their two-game Southeast swing , the Rangers have an opportunity to beat up on two struggling teams – Carolina and Tampa Bay – and position themselves among the leaders in the Eastern Conference.