(SportsNetwork.com) – The struggling Colorado Avalanche will try for their
second win this month when they continue a road trip by visiting the New York
Rangers for Thursday’s clash at Madison Square Garden.
Last season’s Central Division champions have struggled mightily so far in
2014-15, as the Avalanche are currently sitting tied for last in the Western
Conference with just 13 points through 17 games. Colorado also has dropped the
first two tests on a four-game road trip and is just 1-4-1 in November.
Patrick Roy’s club suffered its most lopsided loss of the season its last time
out, losing 6-0 to the New York Islanders on Tuesday. Earlier this season,
Colorado had its biggest margin of victory against the Isles, posting a 5-0
home win over New York on Oct. 30.
Semyon Varlamov wasn’t the problem for Colorado. The goaltender made 40 saves
as the Avs were badly outshot in the game by a 46-20 margin.
The game marked the third time Colorado was shut out this season and the first
time since getting blanked by Minnesota in two straight outings to begin the
“I’ll say this: They played really well. I have to give them credit,” Roy said
of the Islanders. “They were really intense. They were jumping at pucks,
putting pucks at the net. It was a game where we were not at our best, without
a doubt, and we know we need to be better.”
The blowout loss dropped Colorado’s road record this season to 1-5-3. The Avs
will complete their current swing Saturday against New Jersey.
Varlamov will get the start again for Colorado and he is 3-2-0 with a 3.36
goals against average in five career outings against the Rangers.
Roy also is expected to plug veteran forward Danny Briere back into the lineup
on Thursday. The 37-year-old Briere has been a healthy scratch in seven
straight games and has two goals and an assist in 10 tilts this season.
While the Avs hope to put a disastrous result in the rearview tonight, the
Rangers will try to build off their most impressive win of the season.
The defending Eastern Conference champions slammed visiting Pittsburgh by a
5-0 score on Tuesday, ending the Penguins’ winning streak at seven games. It
was the first meeting between the Metropolitan Division rivals since New York
beat Pittsburgh in seven games during last spring’s conference semifinals.
Mats Zuccarello, Martin St. Louis and Kevin Klein all scored during a three-
goal first period to help the Blueshirts pound the Pens at MSG.
Rick Nash recorded a goal and two assists and Henrik Lundqvist turned back all
33 shots he faced as the Rangers bounced back strongly from back-to-back
defeats over the weekend. New York suffered consecutive losses against Toronto
and Edmonton before returning to the win column on Tuesday.
Derick Brassard added a goal and both Derek Stepan and Marc Staal had two
assists to help New York deny the Penguins a chance at revenge after
Pittsburgh coughed up a 3-1 series lead in the recent playoff meeting.
“We knew that to be able to compete against a team like Pittsburgh, who are on
the top of their game, we needed a total team effort and that’s what we got
tonight,” said Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault.
The victory was New York’s second win in its last five home games. The
Rangers, who are sporting a 5-3-2 record at MSG, are completing a three-game
homestand tonight before visiting the Pens for a rematch on Saturday.
New York expects to have defenseman Dan Boyle in the lineup for the first time
since he broke his hand in the season opener versus St. Louis on Oct. 9. The
veteran blueliner signed a two-year, $9 million deal to join the Rangers in
Colorado has had a great deal of success against the Rangers in recent years,
winning four of five and 14 of the last 18 games in this series. New York did
post a 5-1 win when the Avs last visited the Big Apple on Feb. 4, but Colorado
has still claimed five of the past seven encounters at MSG.