Rangers begin important Canadian road trip against Canucks Wednesday night

Rangers head to Canada for road swing
New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider (20) celebrates with teammates K’Andre Miller (79), Barclay Goodrow (21) and Jacob Trouba (8) after scoring a goal during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Vancouver Canucks Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
AP Photos

There isn’t a hockey team in the Eastern Conference playing better than the New York Rangers right now. 

The acquisition of Vladimir Tarasenko has awoken the Blueshirt offense in a way that deadline moves could only dream of. That doesn’t mean New York is done winning. 

Just five points separate the Rangers from the second seed in the Metro division behind New Jersey. Without Jack Hughes for the foreseeable future, now is as good a time as any for the Rangers to overtake the Devils in a key seeding race. And their upcoming road trip through Canada will be as good a chance as any to make up ground, even if it won’t come easy. 

Going up against the Canucks Wednesday night, along with Calgary and Edmonton later in the week, the Rangers won’t be able to squeak through very difficult opponents. All three previous contests against their foes this week have proven that. But that doesn’t mean New York won’t have the edge going into some big matchups.

The Rangers are 20-4-3 since December 5th with an offense that has the second-best goals scored per game average in hockey. Conversely, their defense has allowed the 3rd best goals-against average during that span as well.  

A big reason for the recent swing in momentum? Solid play from role players like Jimmy Vesey and Barclay Goodrow. While both players have been rotating lines throughout the season, each player has brought an important piece to the Rangers’ championship run. 

“I thought his last game was his best game. He made some plays and played a physical game. His hockey IQ is really good. It was his best game since I’ve been here with the Rangers. ” Gerard Gallant said of Vesey after New York’s 6-2 win over Carolina on Saturday.

Even with the play of Vesey and Goodrow stabilizing both the top six and fourth-line, the Rangers have gotten recent success from their star players. Artemi Panarin just completed a four-goal game in Carolina and has skated excellently since the trade for Tarasenko, and the Kid Line has become as sure-fire a line as any in the game. 

That being said, six of the next seven contests for the Rangers will come against teams with winning records. Getting off to a hot start on their road trip will not just continue their momentum, but also help the team in the long run as they prepare for the month of March, and the homestretch of the NHL season. 

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