After a bad start the 2013-14 season, the New York Rangers have played much better as of late and have shown steady improvement. Despite having lost 3-2 to the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night, the Rangers’ record in their last 10 games is 7-3-0. On Saturday night they head to a place which has not been kind to them as of late in the Bell Centre where they take on the Montreal Canadiens.
Playing against the Canadiens in Montreal is tough for any visiting team for a number of reasons. For the Rangers, their most recent trips to the Bell Centre have not been memorable at all as they have only one once in their last 11 games including having lost their last eight. Yet in order to get back to winning like they have as of late the Rangers will have to find a way to overcome some recent bad history, and it must begin with their play on defense.
The Rangers’ improved defensive play has been a reason for their 7-3-0 record in their last 10 games, but as the loss to the Devils on Tuesday showed there still are times when the Rangers’ defense has had some lapses. In a continuing effort to help improve the focus and consistency from the defense, head coach Alain Vigneault will opt to play Justin Falk over Michael Del Zotto as the Rangers will try to use their physicality to their advantage in order to wear down a smaller Canadiens team who will be coming into the game having won 3-2 in a shootout on Friday night.
In addition to improves defensive play, the Rangers have also seen better play from the goaltending position. Because they play on Sunday backup goalkeeper Cam Talbot will get the start on Saturday night, and in the four games he has played so far Talbot has proven to be a very capable backup. Talbot so far has a 3-1-0 record with a 1.97 goals per game average and a save percentage of .933. As the numbers highlight, Talbot has shown himself to be a capable backup who can help the Rangers win a game.
While the Rangers have not been able to enjoy a win in Montreal for quite some time, they have been able to enjoy some wins as of late here in the season. As they continue to turn their season around Saturday’s game against the Canadiens presents the Rangers with another opportunity at getting back to doing the things that have seen them turn the corner after a bad start and in the process end their suffering of not winning a game in Montreal.