Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

5 Things Preview: New York Rangers at Colorado Avalanche

New York Rangers at Colorado Avalanche

Home Ice Revenge

When the Colorado Avalanche and New York Rangers met earlier this year at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers thumped the Avs 5-1. The Rangers put 43 shots on goal and Semyon Varlamov had an off night, giving up all five goals. Ryan Callahan led the charge, but he’s no longer on the team. The Avs will likely be looking for revenge in this game after being embarrassed on February 4th. The Avs have been good at home this year, but the Rangers have been just as good on the road, so things won’t come easy on Thursday night.

Figuring Out Alain Vigneault

For years Vigneault tortured the Avs as the head coach of the Vancouver Canucks and he’s already 1-0 against them this season. The kind of success he’s had isn’t a fluke. He just knows how the play against the Avs and draw up a perfect gameplan. No, these aren’t the same Avs that he’s faced over the past few years with the Canucks, but the 5-1 game earlier this year proves that Vigneault still has some kind of secret to his success against the Avs. It’s up to Patrick Roy and this team to finally figure out a way to beat Vigneault.

Line Combinations

Nathan MacKinnon started last game at center with Ryan O’Reilly and Jamie McGinn. He ended the game on the right side with Gabe Landeskog and Paul Stastny. Only Patrick Roy knows whether or not he’s going to put MacKinnon back at center or keep him at wing and have John Mitchell center O’Reilly and McGinn. My guess is that MacKinnon is back at center, but if things aren’t going well and the Avs are generating much, he’ll load up like he did on Tuesday.

Defensive Changes

Andre Benoit was a healthy scratch on Tuesday so Nate Guenin could remain in the line up after his strong play against San Jose. My guess is that Guenin will be out of the line up after his weak play against Columbus. Roy usually lets his players work through mistakes, but when you have a seventh defenseman who has played well all season and the sixth guy has a rough game, it can be an easy call to make.

The Race For Second

The Avs are three points up with one game in hand on the Chicago Blackhawks, who will be without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews for the rest of the regular season. It seems like the Avs are in pretty good control, but you can never count out the defending Stanley Cup champions and a team that has won two cups in four years. Chicago plays Minnesota on Thursday.

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