Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers
How to watch
Start time: 7:00 PM EST / 4:00 PM PST
In Canada: TSN2 (English), RDS (French)
In the Rangers region: MSG
Streaming: ESPN+, RDS Direct, TSN+
Confident in their status as a contender, the New York Rangers have added some big names to their roster. Vladimir Tarasenko joined the team on February 9, and while some felt that move precluded the addition of Patrick Kane — including Kane himself — that trade was ultimately made a few days before the NHL Trade Deadline, bringing his 16-year stint with the Chicago Blackhawks to an end.
The addition of two superstars was supposed to propel the Rangers to the top of the Metropolitan Division standings, but that hasn’t happened. Since Tarasenko’s arrival, New York is just 6-5-1, and has two wins in the past eight games. They’re quickly losing sight of the Carolina Hurricanes and New Jersey Devils in the top two spots, with the prospect of home-ice advantage in the opening round slipping away.
They should still make the playoffs, but even that won’t happen if they accumulate points at their current rate. The Rangers have three games remaining on their current homestand, and they’ll want to use it to get their game back on track with a sequence of games versus the teams chasing them in the standings.
Tale of the Tape
|43.7% (29th)||Scoring-chances-for %||49.9% (21st)|
|2.69 (28th)||Goals per game||3.27 (13th)|
|3.56 (27th)||Goals against per game||2.81 (11th)|
|16.0% (31st)||PP%||22.8% (10th)|
|74.3% (28th)||PK%||79.3% (16th)|
Montreal isn’t one of those teams, but don’t bother telling the players that; they’re playing at the best level they’ve reached all season long. The record may show they’re on a streak of four consecutive losses, but that includes one-goal defeats at the hands of the Los Angeles Kings (second in the Pacific Division), the Vegas Golden Knights (topping the Pacific), and the latest a shootout loss versus the second-best team in the NHL, Carolina.
The Canadiens have split the first two games of the season series with the Rangers. Samuel Montembeault played a big role in the victory on January 15, stopping 38 of 39 shots. The game-winning goal went to Cole Caufield, his final of 26 scored in a sophomore season cut short by a shoulder injury.
When Caufield was ruled out, there was a feeling of despair when looking at the roster and wondering which forwards could step up to contribute offence in his absence. The answer was the emergence of Rafaël Harvey-Pinard, much more of a contribution from Mike Hoffman, a return to a dangerous playmaking form for Jonathan Drouin, and the most consistent play we’ve ever seen from Josh Anderson.
It used to be a rare occurrence for Anderson to combine his size and speed into an effective style of play, but that has been a nightly feature of his game for several weeks now. He was one of the most vocal members of the team when it was mired in a long losing streak in late December, and since January 1, he has the most goals of any player on the team (nine) and is three points back of Nick Suzuki for the team lead in the 2023 portion of the schedule.
Anderson is well on his way to hitting the 20-goal mark for the second time in his career, and perhaps setting a new mark in points with the Canadiens as well, needing five more in the final 18 games to achieve that, which should be no problem at his current 0.52 points-per-game pace. If Anderson and the coaching staff can carry this form through to the start of the 2023-24 campaign, Caufield could make his return to action with a much deeper offensive support system around him.