Game #6 Preview: (St)Rangers

Ballard and his hips are taking their talents into Rexall Place tonight to face the Oilers.
He’ll probably get a penalty for that hit, though.
(Photo by by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

Game Day Recon: Game #6 – Rangers @ Canucks

The Rangers don’t visit Vancouver often, but when they do, you can expect the start of the game to be pre-empted by baseball. Or CFL. Or poker. Or a repeat of the 2007 X Games. Or a spelling bee.

Keep up the good work, TSN. Your ability to plan a game schedule rivals that of an unconscious Daschund.

Broadcast Info

Game Time: 7:00 PM PT

TV: TSN Radio: Team1040

The Setup

The Rangers have been strangers in a strange land lately. Or at least, strangers on an airplane. They’ve started the season playing only four games, in three different countries and have travelled over 10,200 km. The Rangers haven’t been in Vancouver for almost two years (Nov 3, 2009), and this is only the third visit to Vancouver for the Rangers in the last 9 years.

Can you say heated rivalry?! Yeah, no. The ghosts of the 1994 Stanley Cup Final have long since disappeared from this matchup.

The Rangers haven’t exaclty set the league standings on fire so far, going 0-1-2 in their first three games, and only scoring 5 goals. Don’t they have Brad Richards and Marian Gaborik? Well, Richards and Gaborik have 3 of the Rangers’ five goals… so that’s something, right? Yeah, secondary scoring is going to be a problem for the Rangers this season.

As for the Canucks, they’re coming off of an inspired game, yet managed to escape with a 4-3 win on Canada’s newest holiday, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Day (sponsored by the CBC). Tonight though, they start the game under much more serious tones. The Canucks will honour former teammate Rick Rypien before tonight’s game

The Three Keys

Here are the three keys for the Vancouver Canucks tonight:

  1. Pressure the defence. The Bluehirts are hurting on the blue line, as Marc Staal remains out of the lineup. Their defence now features Jeff Woywitka, Steve Eminger, Tim Erixon and Michael Sauer. Not exactly Murderer’s Row at the back end there. The Canucks need to keep forechecking, keep pressuring, keep hounding for pucks in the offensive zone. Maybe as Sturm is scratched, he can spend his spare time explaining to his teammates what a blitzkrieg is. Now that I think of it… can you imagine if Christian Ehrhoff was still on the Canucks, and Sturm and Ehrhoff did a one-act play for their team, explaining the virtues of a WWII-style assault on your opposition? That would have been pretty awesome.
  2. Come out flying and banging. The Rangers have flown over 10,000 kms in the last 9 days. The Canucks have to hammer the Rangers with a fast-paced game to start. The Rangers have to be tired, so shell shock them, especially given their weakened defence. The Canucks haven’t exactly started off their 5 games with a bang thus far, so they’ll need to get their head in the game early. And lest we forget the aforementioned Richards and Gaborik, they of the "made-of-glass" vintage. The Canucks need to hit those two every chance they can. Odds are, Gabby will go down with a groin injury if you hit him two or three times. Now I am picturing Salo crushing Gaborik into the boards, and thousands of shards of NHL player bits spraying and sprinkling all over the ice, like tiny little diamonds. Ok, so anyone but Salo should hit the crap out of Marian Gaborik. Salo can go back in his protective bubble-wrap container.
  3. Ryan Kesler. Everybody’s favourite stripteasing nudiepants returns to the lineup after off-season surgery to repair his torn hip labrum. And based on his SI photoshoot, his hips are looking great! AMIRITE, LADIES?! Ok, so Sexy Man is back on the ice tonight, looking to get his campaign off on the right foot. Look for Kesler to have a montrous night tonight. The second line of Higgins, Kesler and Hodgson should provide a legit seconadary scoring threat, given the good start that Higgins and Hodgson have had to this season. Are they the wingers for whom Kesler has been looking for the last two years – turning the Helicopter Line into an actual second line? Well, they can’t be any worse that Mikael Samuelsson and Marco Sturm, who were Hodgson’s "wingers" when they "played" on the "second line". And now Samuelsson’s been demoted to the third line and Sturm has been benched.

The Links

Here are your top 5 links for today’s game:

  1. Tale of the Tape (Vancouver Canucks)
  2. Rick Rypien: the one everyone leaned on (Vancouver Sun)
  3. Kesler ready for war with Rangers (The Province)
  4. Tanev and Sturm demoted with Kesler’s return (The Province)
  5. Hodgson ready to wing it (The Province)