Wednesday, January 8, 2014
W2W4: Rangers at Blackhawks
By Katie Strang
At a glance: Following a brief stop-over in New York, the Rangers are back on the road as they face the defending Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Windy City on Wednesday. The 21-20-3 Blueshirts are coming off a 4-3 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets Monday night while the Blackhawks have surrendered two of their last three games. Despite the slight stumble, the Hawks are riding a season-long 10-game point streak and still boast the top-rated offense in the league with a whopping 3.62 goals per game.
Carcillo comeback:Daniel Carcillo returns to Chicago, where he played from 2011-13, in what is expected to be his Rangers debut. New York acquired the on-ice antagonist from the LA Kings last weekend in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2014. At the time, coach Alain Vigneault called the transaction a “low-risk move” considering the injury to gritty fourth-liner Derek Dorsett (broken fibula, out 4 to 6 weeks). Carcillo had only two points in 26 games for the Kings this season, though he managed to rack up 57 penalty minutes.
Olympic caliber: Three Rangers are less than 24 hours removed from the thrill of earning a bid on their respective country’s Olympic team. Star winger Rick Nash was announced as a member of Team Canada’s Sochi-bound squad – he played on the team’s gold medal-winning team in Vancouver four years ago – while goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and winger Carl Hagelin secured spots on the Swedish national team. Seven Rangers will compete in the 2014 games; Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh and Derek Stepan will play for the U.S. while Mats Zuccarello will be the headliner for the Norwegian squad. The Blackhawks will have ten players at the Olympics.
Stepping up: The Blackhawks recently announced that goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin will miss four to six months after undergoing surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff, but the Hawks don’t appear to be sweating their goaltending situation. That is much in part to the emergence of 24-year-old Antti Raanta. The Finnish netminder has been impressive in backing up Crawford during Khabibulin’s absence, with a 11-1-3 record, 2.27 goals against average and .911 save percentage.