New York Rangers (27-28-1-4) vs. Montreal Canadiens (22-29-5-3)
When: 7:30 PM ET, Thursday, February 22, 2018
Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec
Two teams, that both have lost at least four games in a row, are facing off against each other, as the Montreal Canadiens (6th in Atlantic Division) are hosting the New York Rangers (8th in Metropolitan).
Bad Run Continues For Rangers
The New York Rangers (27-28-5) are returning to action after having extended their losing skid to four consecutive games (0-4-0) after dropping both outings of a back-to-back set with a combined score of 13-7 last weekend. The Blueshirts finished off a four-date road trek (1-3-0) with a 6-3 defeat against the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre on Saturday, being clobbered 7-4 by the Philadelphia Flyers at Madison Square Garden just 22 hours later. That leaves the Rangers with just two wins in their last 10 games (2-8-0) and with just three victories in their past 14 outings (3-11-0).
With goalie Henrik Lundqvist (23-21-4 for the season with a 2.89 GAA and a .914 save percentage) featuring in each of New York’s games in February so far, 22-year-old prospect Alexandar Georgiev is set to give him a well-deserved rest, starting between the pipes in his first ever NHL game on Thursday. He has gone 12-11-2 for the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack this season, posting a 2.97 GAA and a .908 save percentage. The Rangers, meanwhile, are 13th in least goals scored per game (2.83), 9th in most goals allowed on average (3.12), 13th in power play (20.8%) and 7th in penalty kill (82.4%).
Canadiens Lose Another Game
The Montreal Canadiens (22-29-8) stretched out their own losing streak to six straight outings (0-4-2) after rounding off a four-date road trip (0-3-1) with a 3-2 overtime defeat against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday. the performance by the Habs wasn’t half bad, as they were outshot just by a small margin (33-27), blocked 27 shots and had two separate leads before the Flyers tied the game with 1:25 remaining in the third period and notched the winner at 1:26 of the extra session. Jeff Petry (9 goals, 28 points this year) and Paul Byron (14 goals, 24 points) lit the lamp, while Jordie Benn (4 goals, 10 points) blocked a team-high four shots.
Goalie Carey Price (15-22-6 for the season with a 2.98 GAA and a .904 save percentage) made 30 saves, but is ruled out of the clash against the New York Rangers after taking a hit to the mask with the puck in Philadelphia. Antti Niemi (2-6-1 on the year with a 4.18 GAA and a .880 save percentage) is expected to guard the cage, having gone 3-4-1 against the Blueshirts historically with a 3.07 GAA and a .896 save percentage. The Canadiens are scoring the 3rd lowest quantity of goals per game (2.53), while conceding the 8th highest amount on the defensive end (3.14). They are 7th in power play (21.5%) and 25th in penalty kill (77.2%).
- Rangers are 0-5 in their last 5 vs. Eastern Conference.
- Rangers are 2-8 in their last 10 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
- Rangers are 11-27 in their last 38 road games.
- Canadiens are 41-20 in their last 61 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400.
- Canadiens are 15-6 in their last 21 meetings with Rangers in Montreal.
Although both teams have struggled quite a fair bit lately, with the Canadiens doing so for the whole season, it is actually the Habs who have played the better hockey of late. With the rebuild having already started and with seemingly no one (apart from Henrik Lundqvist) safe before the trade deadline, it is not surprising to see the Rangers performing below their usual standard. Alexandar Georgiev, their goalie prospect, who is set to get his first NHL start in Montreal, has not really been performing spectacularly in the minors either, so expect the Canadiens to have that little bit of extra to record their fifth victory in the past six regular-season meetings with the Blueshirts…