The Rangers are in Carolina tonight with a chance to clinch a playoff spot, but the focus of the pregame will be on Eric Staal and his return to Raleigh. There will be big things planned, as the Hurricanes put up a #ThankYouEric wall for Staal to walk past on his way to practice. His teammates also tricked him into taking the ice by himself for practice.
Aside from the Staal fanfare, the Rangers can clinch a playoff spot with a win in regulation or overtime. At this point, a playoff spot is virtually guaranteed, and the Rangers are just jockeying for position. A win gives them a bit of breathing room for home ice against the Penguins, their likely first round opponent.
Under Bill Peters, the Canes play a passive 1-2-2 on the forecheck and look to trap up the neutral zone. In their own end they run your standard low zone collapse. Not the most exciting of systems. On special teams, they run an umbrella powerplay, and a diamond/box hybrid PK. For more on the systems, click here.
Joakim Nordstrom-Jordan Staal-Elias Lindholm
Jeff Skinner-Viktor Rask-Chris Terry
Nathan Gerbe-Jay McClement-Brad Malone
Sergey Tolchinsky-Derek Ryan-Patrick Brown
PK: Staal, Nordstrom, Lindholm, McClement, Gerbe, Malone, Hainsey, Slavin, Pesce, Faulk
Cam Ward gets the start.
PK: Stepan, Moore, Nash, Fast, Glass, McDonagh, Staal, Klein, Girardi
Henrik Lundqvist gets the start.
Crazy Prediction: No tears from any of the Staals, including parents.