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NHL Preview from The Sports Network



Thursday, October 3rd (All times Eastern)

New York Rangers (0-0-0) at Phoenix Coyotes (0-0-0), 10 p.m.

(SportsNetwork.com) - The New York Rangers and head coach Alain Vigneault have plenty of time to work out the kinks before making their season debut in front of the home crowd.

The Rangers begin the Vigneault era with a season-opening nine-game road trip, starting on Thursday night versus the Phoenix Coyotes.

New York begins the season on the road for the sixth straight campaign as it won't play its first home game until Oct. 28. The Rangers lost their season opener in Boston to begin the lockout-shortened campaign before playing five of their next six at home.

It will be quite some time before the Blueshirts return to Madison Square Garden, though it will give Vigneault some time to take a polished product home with him.

"I think it's going to be good for our team in the sense that it should give myself and my staff and management a real good read on our group, where we are now and where we need to improve as we move forward," said Vigneault.

"There's not a road way and a home way to play. There's one way to play and that's the right way. That's what we're going to try and do."

Vigneault begins his first season as New York's head coach, replacing John Tortorella, who coincidentally took over for Vigneault in Vancouver. Vigneault got the Canucks to the playoffs in six of his seven years with the club, a run that included six division titles, back-to-back Presidents Trophies in 2010-11 and 2011-12, and a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011.

Vigneault takes over a Rangers club that has been to the playoffs in three straight and in seven of the last eight seasons, but also one that struggled on the power play a season ago. Under new direction, New York is likely to engage in more of an up-tempo style than the defense-first style under Tortorella.

That should bode well for forwards Rick Nash, Brad Richards and Derek Stepan.

Nash led the Rangers with 21 goals and was second with 42 points in his first season with the club after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Stepan led the team with 44 points and was a holdout for much of camp before finally agreeing to a new deal on Sept. 26.

When Stepan returned, Richards moved from his natural center spot to left wing in the hopes of sparking his game.

New York will have to survive this road trip without the speedy Carl Hagelin, who is on injured reserve due to offseason shoulder surgery. Captain Ryan Callahan also had a procedure on his shoulder over the summer and won't play tonight, but could return by this weekend.

The Rangers have a superb top-four at the blue line with the presence of Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Michael Del Zotto and had one of the top goaltenders in Henrik Lundqvist.

Lundqvist, a five-time Vezina Trophy finalist and one-time winner, went 24-16-3 with a 2.05 goals against average and .926 save percentage in 2013.

The Coyotes will play their first regular season game under new management, finally being sold after having been owned and operated by the league since 2009. That should give Phoenix some stability it has not had in some time, though the club still managed to make the playoffs in three straight years before a 10th-place finish to the lockout-shortened campaign.

With an increased ability to spend, the Coyotes inked center Mike Ribeiro to a four-year contract and he'll play on the top line with captain Shane Doan and forward Mikkel Boedker.

Ribeiro had 49 points in 48 games with the Washington Capitals last season, finishing fifth in the league with 36 assists. He is looking forward to opening the season with his new club.

"You want to show them what you can do, show your teammates and the city that you're here for a reason -- to show up every night and help the team win," said Ribeiro.

Offense from the back end is one key to Phoenix's game. Keith Yandle led the club with 30 points off 10 goals and 20 assists last year, while Oliver Ekman- Larsson had 24 points.

Goaltender Mike Smith begins the season with a new six-year contract after going 15-12-5 with a 2.58 GAA in only 34 games last year due to injury. However, he was coming off an excellent 2011-12 campaign in which he had gone 38-18-10 with a 2.21 GAA, .930 save percentage and eight shutouts.

Phoenix is without defenseman Rostislav Klesla due to a concussion, while forward Paul Bissonnette will miss the first three games due to a suspension for his role in a preseason fight with the Los Angeles Kings on Sept. 15.

Bissonnette was originally banned for 10 games after is was ruled he had left the bench to join the altercation, but had the suspension reduced after a hearing.

Phoenix will hit the road for five straight after this contest and has won each of its last five season openers that have been played at home.

The Rangers have won three straight and eight of their last 10 versus the Coyotes, taking both meetings in 2011-12. The clubs did not meet last season.

New York has won three of its last four in Phoenix.

10/03 14:31:09 ET

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
UNC 66
BUT 74
Final
ECU 73
HAW 75
 
5:00pm Tonight
DUKE
FUR
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
POR
7:00pm Tonight
NCSU
RICH
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
CAR
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
BRK
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
GSW
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
POR
7:00pm Tonight
CLE
WAS
7:30pm Tonight
DET
LAC
7:30pm Tonight
DAL
NYK
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
TOR
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
MIL
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
SAC
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
UTA
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
IND
9:00pm Tonight
PHO
DEN
10:30pm Tonight
LAL
MEM
Final
UNC 66
BUT 74
Final
FRES 64
MAR 68
Final
CHAT 61
RMU 46
Final
EMICH 68
ROCH 35
 
Final
MRGST 51
LIB 50
 
Final
HAMP 60
AMER 64
 
Final
BEL 78
DEN 57
 
Final
UMASS 79
NE 54
 
Final
JMU 79
SHU 72
 
Final
KNST 84
SAMF 71
 
Final
ECU 73
HAW 75
 
2nd
CHAM 56
MIZZ 72
 
Final
CCAR 61
LAMON 48
 
2nd
OKLA 59
UCLA 59
 
1st
ELON 15
UNF 25
 
1st
UWMIL 14
ORU 17
 
1st
WCU 1
CHIST 0
 
5:00pm Tonight
DUKE
FUR
5:00pm Tonight
BYU
PURD
6:00pm Tonight
EVAN
USF
7:00pm Tonight
COL
GTDNS
 
7:00pm Tonight
VERM
BRY
 
7:00pm Tonight
OSU
CAMP
7:00pm Tonight
CORN
CAN
7:00pm Tonight
LOU
CLST
7:00pm Tonight
UCF
DAVID
7:00pm Tonight
IONA
DELST
 
7:00pm Tonight
OU
UGST
7:00pm Tonight
TOWS
GOUCHER
 
7:00pm Tonight
ND
GRAM
 
7:00pm Tonight
YALE
LAF
 
7:00pm Tonight
GWU
LONG
 
7:00pm Tonight
VT
UMO
7:00pm Tonight
WAKE
MNTER
 
7:00pm Tonight
NAVY
PSUHARRIS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NCSU
RICH
7:00pm Tonight
MINN
STJ
7:00pm Tonight
JVU
TRINBAPT
 
7:00pm Tonight
YOUNG
UMKC
 
7:00pm Tonight
UAB
WISC
7:30pm Tonight
PITT
KYST
7:30pm Tonight
WVU
VMI
8:00pm Tonight
DEP
LEH
 
8:00pm Tonight
UNT
MVSU
 
8:00pm Tonight
MARS
MORE
8:00pm Tonight
TCU
RAD
 
8:00pm Tonight
SELA
TENT
 
8:00pm Tonight
SMU
TXSOU
 
8:00pm Tonight
UTAH
TXPA
8:00pm Tonight
LMU
UCR
8:00pm Tonight
SCAR
UNCA
 
8:00pm Tonight
SD
WAYNEST
 
8:30pm Tonight
UWGB
FLGC
8:30pm Tonight
IOWA
NILL
9:00pm Tonight
ORST
AUB
9:00pm Tonight
MONT
CARROLLMT
 
9:00pm Tonight
SUTAH
EKENT
9:00pm Tonight
NMST
FAM
 
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
STET
 
9:05pm Tonight
EWASH
NKENTUCKY
 
9:05pm Tonight
IDST
WLVRN
 
9:30pm Tonight
GEOR
UF
9:30pm Tonight
GONZ
UGA
9:30pm Tonight
NIOWA
NW
10:00pm Tonight
SDST
ARZ
10:00pm Tonight
CAL
CPSL
10:00pm Tonight
UCD
UTST
10:30pm Tonight
NDAK
ALAST
11:00pm Tonight
CSNO
PORST
11:30pm Tonight
AKAN
PAC
11:30pm Tonight
OKST
TULSA
7:00pm Tonight
NYI
WAS
7:00pm Tonight
BUF
WIN
7:30pm Tonight
FLA
CAR
7:30pm Tonight
TAM
NYR
7:30pm Tonight
DET
PHI
7:30pm Tonight
PIT
TOR
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
LOS
9:00pm Tonight
COL
CHI
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
CAL