Historically tough opponent, but it was a fairly easy win last time out and with the coaching change still fresh, there's really no excuses tonight.
If I'm Torts, I've got a strategy to put people in Ward's face all night. 'Canes PP absolutely sucks and if you've got to take an interference penalty or 2 in the name of getting in his head, chances are, they won't make you pay.
I think that this game is perfect for the Rangers to a use their new found talent on the 3rd and 4th lines to flourish.
If Richards and the GAS lines get shut down having both Hagelin and Mitchel flank Boyle along with Prust and Avery flanking Dubinsky free to terrorize the opponents 3rd and 4th lines is going to be interesting to watch.
92 points was enough to make playoffs last season. It may take 96-97 this season the way East is.
Here's what every Eastern team is on pace for so far
New York Rangers - 113 pts
Boston Bruins - 111
Florida Panthers - 103
Pittsburgh Penguins- 105
Philadelphia Flyers - 103
Toronto Maple Leafs - 98
Buffalo Sabres - 92
Washington Capitals - 89
Ottawa Senators - 89
New Jersey Devils - 89
Montreal Canadiens - 85
Tampa Bay Lightning - 82
Winnipeg Jets - 75
New York Islanders - 67
Carolina Hurricanes - 63
..so it's not that the Rangers aren't getting separation; it's just that every other team has played more games than the Rangers. The East plays a vast majority of games intra-conference as you know, so they only way you would need substantially more points to get into the playoffs would be a lack of parity or an unusually large number of games going to OT, neither of which we are seeing. Low 90s should do it.
Anyway, gotta win tonight and keep things rolling along.
I'm gonna say 4-2 Rangers. Gaborik, Dubinsky, Del Zotto, and Stepan with the tallies.