NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, November 30th
(All times Eastern)
Vancouver Canucks (13-9-5) at New York Rangers (13-13-0), 2 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - A highly anticipated battle between teams that swapped
head coaches during the offseason is on tap Saturday, as John Tortorella and
the Vancouver Canucks visit Alain Vigneault's New York Rangers for a clash at
Madison Square Garden.
One of the most intriguing storylines of the offseason began with Tortorella
and Vigneault being fired last May by the Rangers and Canucks, respectively.
Before the end of June both coaches landed on their feet by taking each
other's former job, with Vigneault landing in the Big Apple and Tortorella
moving from the East Coast to the West to lead the Canucks.
Tortorella is the one making a homecoming on Saturday, as he returns to New
York for the first time since being fired. He led the Rangers to the playoffs
in four of five seasons, but was only able to get the club past the second
round once, when the Blueshirts lost to New Jersey in the 2012 Eastern
"Quite honestly, we've beaten this thing up. We're going there (and) it's
another game on the schedule. It's a very important game for us to try and
gain some traction," said Tortorella.
"We're going in there to coach, be with the team, try to win a hockey team and
get the hell out of there."
Vigneault, who will have to wait until April 1 for his return to Vancouver,
led the Canucks to 30-or-more wins in six straight seasons before the lockout-
shortened campaign helped ended that streak. He also got Vancouver to within
one win of the franchise's first Stanley Cup title in the spring of 2011, only
to lose a home Game 7 to the Bruins.
Vigneault was fired after the Canucks lost for the second straight time in the
opening round during last spring's playoffs.
Under Tortorella this season, the Canucks are off to a 13-9-5 start, while the
Rangers are 13-13-0 with Vigneault behind the bench.
The Canucks enter today's tilt in New York coming off a win, but Thursday's
5-2 rout in Ottawa was just the second victory in nine outings for
Daniel Sedin's 300th career NHL goal highlighted a second-period barrage on
Thursday. The Canucks had found scoring to be a difficult task of late, but
they pumped home four in the second against the Senators, including three in a
Sedin, David Booth, Jason Garrison and Mike Santorelli each had a goal and one
assist for Vancouver, which had totaled two goals or less in seven of its
previous eight games. Not surprisingly, the Canucks posted only one win during
"We wanted to create more offense and we did," Garrison said. "It was nice to
get one. We responded in the second after a poor start."
Roberto Luongo made 37 saves in Vancouver's sixth straight win over the
Senators. Luongo is 7-11-1 with a tie and a 2.73 goals against average in 21
career outings against the Rangers.
New York has taken the last two encounters in this series, but the Blueshirts
and Canucks haven't faced each other since Oct. 18, 2011, when Tortorella led
the Rangers to a 4-0 victory in Vancouver.
Despite losing the two most recent matchups, however, the Canucks have still
claimed nine of the past 12 meetings in this series. Vancouver also has won
four of six and six of the last nine encounters in NYC.
Vigneault and the Rangers will try to rebound from their second loss in three
games when they take the ice today. The Blueshirts visited Boston on Friday
afternoon and were handed a 3-2 regulation loss despite carrying a 2-1 edge
into the third period.
Boston's Patrice Bergeron tied the game at 2-2 when he scored just 1:35 into
the third period and Zdeno Chara provided the winning tally for the hosts with
8:55 remaining in regulation.
Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash scored for the Rangers, who had won three of four
heading into Friday. Henrik Lundqvist turned aside 25 shots in defeat.
"We got exactly what we deserved today because we gave a "B" effort," said
Beginning with Saturday's test, the Rangers are playing two straight and 11 of
their next 12 games on home ice. New York is 4-5-0 as the host this season and
9-8-0 on the road.
11/30 10:31:11 ET