While Monday night’s game against the Senators was certainly a reunion of sorts, it definitely did not have as much meaning for the New York Rangers as Wednesday night's match-up with the Vancouver Canucks will.
The Rangers’ 4-2 victory over Ottawa on Monday night featured Wade Redden getting to see several of his old teammates from his days north of the border. The same could be said for Markus Naslund on Wednesday, who will be reunited with the team he captained for seven seasons.
However, this meeting will hold much more significance, because Naslund was the face of the Canucks franchise and its true leader.
It will now be up to the Rangers' alternate captain to block out all the hype that will be created by the media, and lead his team to a fourth-straight win. The Rangers (14-5-2, 30 points) have won back-to-back shootout contests, and surely want to end this one in regulation and get some rest.
However, that might not be so easy, considering they’ll be facing one of the best teams in the Northwest Division.
The Canucks (10-6-2, 22 points) fell into second place with the Wild’s win over the Penguins on Monday night and will be looking to right their ship after a weak 2-1 shootout loss to the Islanders on Monday night. Vancouver is a much better team than that, and they will certainly have their work cut out for them against a significantly-stronger Rangers squad.
The biggest thing this game will come down to is goaltending.
You can’t ask for a much better match-up in net then Roberto Luongo and Henrik Lundqvist. With Marty Brodeur out, these two will be the likely two vying for the Vezina Trophy this year.
Goals will be at a premium in this game, and the first team to score could be the team that comes out on top. However, the Rangers have proven lately that they won’t give up no matter how much they fall behind.
I expect this to be a close game, featuring dazzling performances again by both goalies. It wouldn’t surprise me if this game had to go longer than 60 minutes, but the Rangers are too hot to fold right now.
My Prediction: Rangers 2, Canucks 1 (OT)