Special teams at center of Rangers-Canucks matchup
The red-hot Rangers, winners of seven of their last nine games, will face former coach John Tortorella and the Canucks on Tuesday night in what should be a special teams battle.
The Blueshirts' penalty kill (90.7%) ranked first in the NHL for March and sixth overall (84.5%) on the season.
It is especially surprising that the penalty kill has improved following the deadline trade that sent former captain Ryan Callahan to the Lightning, as he was known for his grit, shot-blocking, and shorthanded prowess during his seven-plus seasons with the Rangers.
Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, who also comprise the Rangers' top defensive pairing, lead the team with 2:50 and 2:43 per game on the penalty kill, respectively.
Although the Canucks have had a tough season and are currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, they have revived their power play of late. While it ranks 27th in the NHL at just 15.0% on the season, it was 22.0% in March, the third-best in the league. Talented scorer and two-time U.S. Olympian Ryan Kesler leads Vancouver with nine power play goals on the year.
Also worthy of note on the Rangers' side is center Derek Stepan, who had 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in 16 games during the month. He also led the team with three power play goals.
The Rangers have 88 points this season, fifth-most in the Eastern Conference, and will look to add two more in Vancouver as they look to solidify their playoff spot over their final six regular-season games.