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Hurricanes vs. Rangers: Game Preview 3-7-14

After a long break and a road trip, the Hurricanes finally return to PNC Arena tonight to take on division rival New York Rangers and their newest addition, Martin St. Louis.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Rangers
March 7, 2014 - 7:00 pm ET
PNC Arena - Raleigh, NC
TV - Sports South
Radio - 99.9 The Fan

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Hurricanes Record: 27-26-9 | 63 pts | 7th Metro | 13th EC
Rangers Record: 33-26-4 | 70 pts | 3rd Metro | 7th EC

Post-Season Picture:
Games Remaining: 20
Minimum Points Needed: 92
Points Back: 29 (1.45 points/game)
Playoff Chances (Sports Club Stats): 7.5%

Welcome back to PNC Arena, Canes fans. It's been almost a month since the Hurricanes played a home game, owing to the Olympic break and a long road trip. With the return back to the east coast, the Canes turn their attentions back to the Metro division, where they will play the next three games against division rivals. Tonight and Tuesday night the Canes and Rangers will square off here in Raleigh. In between, the Canes will travel to Newark to take on the New Jersey Devils tomorrow night.

Tonight marks the second of four meetings between the Canes and Rangers. The Rangers won the first game 5-1 at MSG, and they'll meet there again in April.

What to know about the Rangers:

  • The Rangers are in playoff contention but recently fell from second to third in the Metro division, after losing in overtime to the Leafs Wednesday night to go 0-2-1 over their last three games.
  • They have won their last nine straight games against the Canes and have scored at least four goals in seven of those games.
  • The Rangers pulled off one of the biggest blockbusters at Wednesday's trade deadline, dealing captain Ryan Callahan and a 2015 first round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Martin St. Louis. St. Louis was able to join the team for the Toronto game on Wednesday, where he was reunited with his 2004 Stanley Cup line-mate Brad Richards along with Carl Hagelin. The line gelled well in their first game, and they should prove a formidable opponent. St. Louis has 87 points in 76 games played against the Canes, and Hagelin has nine points in seven games.
  • In a less publicized trade, the Rangers also picked up defenseman Raphael Diaz from the Canucks in exchange for a 2015 fifth round pick. Diaz will join the team in Raleigh.
  • 75% of the sod farm will be present on the ice as Marc Staal faces brothers Eric and Jordan.
  • Ryan McDonagh has goals in consecutive games. Derek Stepan has five points in the last four games.
  • Mats Zuccarello has been out with a broken hand and is a game-time decision.
  • Head coach Alain Vigneault announced that Henrik Lundqvist will be in net tonight. King Henrik has allowed 13 goals in the last three games, but is 15-8-1 with a 2.21 GAA and a shutout in 24 appearances against the Canes.
  • Updates from yesterday's practice via [Ranger Rants].

What to know about the Canes:

  • The Canes are playing in their 16th of 20 back-to-back series this weekend. They are 9-5-1 on the front halves and 4-8-3 in the back halves of those series.
  • After concluding a five-game road trip with a 3-2 overtime win agains the Sharks Tuesday night, the big news was Wednesday's trade deadline deal that brought forward Andrei Loktionov to the Hurricanes roster and sent Tuomo Ruutu to the New Jersey Devils. Loktionov arrived in Raleigh yesterday for his first practice with the team. He skated primarily on the fourth line with Manny Malhotra and Drayson Bowman. According to head coach Kirk Muller, he will likely start out tonight's game on that line but may move as he becomes comfortable with the team and system. He spoke with the media briefly after yesterday's practice [audio].
  • Ryan Murphy also rejoined the team after being recalled from Charlotte. Murphy played in 39 games for the Canes before being assigned to the Checkers in advance of the Olympic break. While in Charlotte, Murphy played in 16 games and tallied 18 points, including assists in 11 straight games. Half of Murphy's points for the Checkers (9a) came on the power play [].
  • Justin Faulk remains out of the lineup with an upper body injury. He is expected to miss at least a week.
  • Alexander Semin did not practice yesterday but is scheduled to be in the lineup tonight.Radek Dvorak skated in Semin's spot in practice but will likely be the healthy extra forward.
  • Kirk Muller did not divulge his plans in net, stating that the decision would be made one day at a time with the goaltender who presented the best shot for a win. Anton Khudobin has never faced the Rangers. Cam Ward is 9-11-3 with a 2.46 GAA and two shutouts, and Justin Peters has one loss and a 3.85 GAA in two appearances.
  • Andrej Sekera, who has points in five consecutive games, will play in his 400th NHL game tonight, and Nathan Gerbe is one point shy of 100 NHL points.
  • Muller spoke about the trade for Loktionov, saying it was an exchange of physical play for skill and speed, and that playing a fast game would be key going forward because the personnel does not support trying to out-muscle other teams [audio].
  • General Manager Jim Rutherford also spoke yesterday with his thoughts on the trade deadline and remaining games [audio]
  • Current lines [ depth chart]

We'll have the game thread up and running by 6:30 pm. See you at the rink.