The New York Rangers head into Vancouver tonight in search of their first win on the season and facing a Canucks team that is getting reinforcements on the ice and emotion from the pre-game ceremonies. The return of Kesler to the lineup adds a completely different dimension to the Canucks lineup as it is no longer a one line team, but adds to the team defensively and their edge as well. The pre-game ceremonies to honor the late Rick Rypien will only add to the energy in the building. According to Marian Gaborik and Jeff Woywitka via Blueshirts United the Rangers are well aware of how critical the start of the game will be tonight.
The start is going to be huge, they always come out strong in this building. So we need to bang some bodies, be physical, and play a quick game. We need to try and play five-on-five and play in their end, shoot as much as we can, and hopefully play with a lead. We need to get our first win.
Before the Islanders game it was Christensen talking about the sense of urgency and how the rivalry must fire up every player on the team and now we have Gaborik talking about banging bodies. Like Christensen the other day, Gaborik is exactly right that the Rangers need to do those things, but it is still weird having it come from his mouth. The Rangers do need to get back to playing their style and establishing the game in Vancouver’s end early and often.
We're going to make sure we are respectful and pay our respects to a guy who was a good teammate here in Vancouver and whose loss was a tough one in the hockey world, but once the whistle blows and it's time to get going, we know that crowd will be energized and we're going to have to make sure we match their intensity. The first ten minutes or so we know they will be charged up, so we will have to match that, weather the storm, and then get rolling.
Vancouver will certainly have energy, but I expect that the Rangers will have a tinge of desperation to get off to a fast start as they search for their first win. The best way to “weather the storm” of emotion that will be in the building is to take the play to the Canucks, get an early lead and take the crowd out of it.