The Metropolitan Division-leading Hurricanes will storm into Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night looking to continue their surge toward the top of the NHL as winners of 11 straight games.
It’ll be the first meeting between the Hurricanes and Rangers since the two clubs battled it out for position in the standings and then squared off in the second round of the playoffs last season. For Carolina, which will certainly be seeking vengeance for the Rangers ending their 2021-22 season, they’ll have to face their former teammate, Vincent Trocheck, in order to do so.
“I thought all the games were good,” head coach Gerard Gallant said of Rangers’ seven-game series against the Canes, in which they battled back from down 2-0. “I thought we played a great series against them. I thought we played some of our best games, obviously, in that series. It was outstanding. I don’t think there was any one key, I just thought it was a homer series. But the first two games of the series, I thought we should have won both those games in Carolina.
“They were great games, it was back and forth. That series went seven games, it was a battle and we found a way to win that Game 7 in their building.”
The Rangers got a good look at Trocheck during that postseason series. After he scored three goals and dished five assists in seven games against the Bruins, Trocheck scored a goal in each of the last three games against the Rangers, including a shorthanded tally that helped propel Carolina to a 3-1 win and 3-2 series lead in Game 5.
Trocheck has found his stride for the first time since pulling on a Rangers jersey. Over the past 12 games, the 29-year-old center has collected 15 points in the form of five goals and 10 assists. Trocheck has also posted multi-point efforts in six of those games.
Most of Trocheck’s recent success came while playing on a line with Chris Kreider and Jimmy Vesey, but Trocheck has since been moved back to the second line — where he’s spent most of the season — next to Artemi Panarin.
Mika Zibanejad had a maintenance day on Monday and sat out of practice. Jonny Brodzinski filled in for the Swedish center, which indicates he will be scratched for a second straight game Tuesday night. The rest of the lineup looked the same as it did against the Panthers on Sunday.
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