banner

NHL

more stats

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

Other Stories

Hurricanes

Canes top NHL’s-best Ducks in shootout, 3-2 12
Canes bench under-performing Alexander Semin

"Right now, he is not in the lineup," Carolina Hurricanes head coach Bill Peters said Friday about the status of winger Alexander Semin.

Related Stories
  • ACC: North Carolina vs. Miami

    Today at 12:25 pm on WRAL-TV

  • NFL: San Diego vs. Miami

    Today at 1:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Florida vs. Georgia

    Today at 3:30 pm on WRAL-TV

  • CFB: Notre Dame vs. Navy

    Tonight at 8:00 on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Duke at Pittsburgh

    Today at 12:00 pm on 620am

  • Big Ten: Maryland at Penn State

    Today at 12:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • ACC: NC State at Syracuse

    Today at 3:00 pm on WRAL-FM

  • NHL: Carolina Hurricanes vs Arizona Coyotes

    Tonight at 7:00 on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
12:00pm Today
PITT
DUKE
12:00pm Today
TEMPL
ECU
12:30pm Today
MIAMI
UNC
3:00pm Today
SYR
NCSU
4:00pm Today
BCOOK
NCCU
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
ARI
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
MEM
 
Final
IND 89
MEM 97
Final
CHI 108
CLE 114
Final
MIL 93
PHI 81
Final
SAC 103
POR 94
Final
PHO 94
SAN 89
Final
LAL 111
LAC 118
7:00pm Tonight
NOP
DAL
 
7:00pm Tonight
CHA
MEM
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
MIA
 
7:00pm Tonight
WAS
MIL
 
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
TOR
 
7:30pm Tonight
DET
BRK
 
7:30pm Tonight
ATL
IND
 
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
BOS
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
CHI
 
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
DEN
 
9:00pm Tonight
UTA
PHO
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
LAL
 
Final
TULA 14
CIN 38
Final
MEM 40
TULSA 20
11:30am Today
ARMY
AFA
12:00pm Today
PITT
DUKE
12:00pm Today
TEMPL
ECU
12:00pm Today
PSU
MD
12:00pm Today
IOWA
NW
12:00pm Today
ISU
OKLA
12:00pm Today
FIU
RICE
12:00pm Today
UCONN
UCF
12:00pm Today
TEXAM
LAMON
12:00pm Today
RUTG
WISC
12:30pm Today
VT
BC
12:30pm Today
MIAMI
UNC
1:00pm Today
EMICH
CMICH
1:00pm Today
COL
WASH
2:30pm Today
UMO
WMICH
3:00pm Today
SYR
NCSU
3:00pm Today
LATU
WKENT
3:30pm Today
MTST
BYU
3:30pm Today
UGA
UF
3:30pm Today
APPST
GASTATE
3:30pm Today
MICH
IND
3:30pm Today
NEB
PURD
3:30pm Today
WVU
TCU
3:30pm Today
GT
UVA
4:00pm Today
SFLA
HOU
4:00pm Today
BAY
KU
4:00pm Today
MIZZ
KENT
4:00pm Today
NMST
TXST
4:30pm Today
WASU
USC
5:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
ARKST
5:00pm Tonight
LALAF
SALABAMA
5:30pm Tonight
UNLV
NMU
7:00pm Tonight
MISS
AUB
7:00pm Tonight
SJST
COLST
7:00pm Tonight
VANDY
ODU
7:00pm Tonight
FATL
UAB
7:15pm Tonight
MSST
ARK
7:30pm Tonight
OREG
STAN
7:30pm Tonight
SCAR
TENN
7:30pm Tonight
TTU
TEX
8:00pm Tonight
OSU
ILL
8:00pm Tonight
NAVY
ND
8:00pm Tonight
KST
OKST
8:00pm Tonight
UTEP
SMISS
10:30pm Tonight
UCLA
ARZ
10:30pm Tonight
ORST
CAL
10:30pm Tonight
NEV
SDST
10:45pm Tonight
FRES
WYO
11:00pm Tonight
HAW
UTST
11:00pm Tonight
ARST
UTAH
Final
CLB 1
TOR 4
Final
DET 5
LOS 2
Final
DAL 1
ANA 2
Final
CAL 4
NAS 3
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
ARI
 
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
BUF
 
7:00pm Tonight
TOR
CHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
NJD
CLB
 
7:00pm Tonight
BOS
OTT
 
7:00pm Tonight
FLA
PHI
 
7:00pm Tonight
TAM
WAS
 
7:00pm Tonight
NYR
WIN
 
8:00pm Tonight
STL
COL
 
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
DAL
 
10:00pm Tonight
EDM
VAN
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
NYI
 
4:00pm Today
BCOOK
NCCU