With the first month of the 2013-14 NHL season in the rearview, its time to take a look at what lies ahead for the New York Rangers in the first week of November. Things certainly appear to be status quo for the blueshirts as they are enjoying their first win streak of the season.
Happy to see October gone, the Rangers have started out November with a bang and a big win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Derek Stapan enjoyed his second career hatty and Henrik Lundqvist appeared to be himself again in goal stopping 27-of-28 in the victory.
Taking a look at the rest of the week for Rangers, their work will be cut out for them for sure.
Monday November 4th vs. Anaheim Ducks (11-3-1, 23pts 2nd in Pacific)
The Anaheim Ducks are wrapping up a long 8-game Eastern Conference road trip (4-3-0) when they take on the Rangers Monday night. Coming off a nice 6-3 drubbing of the Buffalo Sabres, the Ducks look to continue that momentum into the showdown with the Rangers.
Leading the way for the Ducks in scoring so far this season is Ryan Getzlaf (6-10-16). Getzlaf has registered a point in four of his last five games. Obviously it is too early to really speculate but Getzlaf is on pace for a 30-goal season. Jonas Hiller (6-2-1, 2.52) has been the other player of note for the Ducks. Hiller has been in net the past three games so we will find out Monday if he will start his fourth straight.
One thing for the Ducks that is going to need vast improvement has to be their special teams. Anaheim is 30th in the league on the power play and 29th in the league in penalty kill. Combined is a recipe for disaster. Coach Boudreau is going to have to turn that around if they want to be serious contenders come March or April.
Wednesday November 6th vs. Pittsburgh Penguins (11-4-0, 22pts 1st Metropolitan)
The Metropolitan Division leading Penguins make their first visit to the vastly improved Madison Square garden on the heels of a 4-game win streak. The Penguins offense as usual is a strongpoint with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but the scoring from Chris Kunitz and Jussi Jokinen has also helped the Penguins get to top of not only their division but of the entire Eastern Conference.
Marc-Andre Fleury (10-2-0, 1.83) has been very good in goal so far for the Penguins and leads the NHL in wins (10) and is second in goals against in the Eastern Conference (1.83) behind Boston’s Tuuka Rask (1.73). Crosby leads the team and the NHL in points (23).
It is going to be a tough game against the Pens, but with the recent play of the Rangers it really could be anyone’s game.
Thursday November 7th @ Columbus Blue Jackets (5-8-0, 10pts 6th Metropolitan)
The Columbus Blue Jackets are making their first ever appearance to MSG as members of the Eastern Conference thanks to the new re-alignment. Struggling to find their way, the Blue Jackets are in the midst of their second losing streak of 3 or more games already this season after being shutout by the other Eastern Conference newbies the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday night.
Columbus is 19th in the league in scoring and is also struggling on special teams. Former New York Ranger Marian Gaborik leads the way in scoring with just 5 goals (5g-5a) while Sergei Bobrovsky is the teams go to guy in net (4-7-0, 2.79). Defensemen James Wisniewski is tied with Gabroik for most points (1g-9a).
So the Rangers have won four out of their last five games, allowing five goals while scoring fifteen. The Rangers special teams have vastly improved in the last couple of weeks. Once hovering near the bottom in both powerplay goals and penalty kills, the Rangers are right smack dab in the middle of the pack in an upwards direction.
It is going to be an interesting week as they close out their home stand against two quality opponents before heading out on the road for a quick one game trip.
John Is a contributor with The Hockey Writers covering the Buffalo Sabres. He is also a Senior Writer and Editor at MetsMerizedOnline.