The road will continue to get tougher for the New York Rangers, as they continue their long trip. After a semi-homecoming, and a half-heated effort against the New York Islanders, the Rangers begin their Western Canada road trip across the continent in Vancouver.
The Rangers offensive struggles have continued right through from last year, something that will need to be addressed during their upcoming travels.
Tuesday night they will take on a Vancouver Canucks team with plenty of offensive fire power. The team’s third highest point scorer Ryan Kesler will also make his debut against the Rangers, and will be a welcomed addition to the dangerous Canucks line-up. Head Coach Alain Vigneault believes his star is ready to go.
“Ryan came to see me this morning and said he was 100 percent,” Vigneault explained. ”He assured me the injury was behind him and we weren’t going to see him limping and we weren’t going to see any `pain faces.’ He’s ready to go and we’re going to put him in.”
The Calgary Flames are next, who have struggled thus far, and are expected to be bottom feeders in the Western Conference this year. They still the talent to win on any given night especially with Veteran forward Jarome Iginla.
The up-start Oilers have surprised everyone this year with a line-up of top picks who are delivering offensively. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first overall pick in this year’s draft, recorded his first hat-trick the other night, and has fit right into the team’s system.
On the other bench, some Rangers will see a familiar face in Tom Renney, John Tortorella’s predecessor. Last time the two teams faced, the Rangers ran the Oilers out of town, but don’t expect similar results; this is a more mature Edmonton team.
The last time the Rangers played in Winnipeg, the team was just a year removed from raising their fourth Stanley Cup banner. That night, November 17, 2005 the Rangers lost to the Jets (now Coyotes) 6-3. This Jets team (formerly the Thrashers) owned the Rangers last year, and they have to be hoping that the move will shift things in their favor.
Jeff Woywitka, an Alberta native is excited to feel the atmosphere in Winnipeg.
“Having hockey there and back in Canada, it’s always a good atmosphere,” said Woywitka. “It’s so exciting, just remembering what the Jets used to be like.”
The Rangers will have more than a few things to work on, as they continue to look for their first win. Rangers captain Ryan Callahan knows the team has to play better.
“With the way we need to start playing, just getting pucks in and start working down low and getting harder on the fore-check, that’s an easy thing to do on the road,” he said. “So us going on the road trip is going to be a good chance for us to get back to the way we need to play and the way we were successful last year.”
The trip will be a good test for the Rangers, one they hope to pass.