With the inaugural BEARD Hockey season about to kick-off, we thought it fitting to provide a preview of the Rangers first-ever game that actually counts.
Here is how the teams stack up and a quick prediction for who will come out on top. The game will be played on Wednesday night.
Please note: these lines are projected lines only and could easily switch if either GM mixes things up for their first game.
Line 1 Matchup: O’Reilly/Mangiapane/Pastrnak vs. McDavid/Kreider/Silfverberg
This matchup goes to the Rangers as the team has put their best 3 players on one line. The interesting thing here is that the O’Reilly line for the Canucks could be more of a shut down line with the exception of Pastrnak who could obviously score on his own. Look for Guentzel to find his way onto this line if the Canucks are overmatched. Still the edge goes to the Rangers.
Line 2 Matchup: Danault/Guentzel/Oshie vs. Hischer/Drouin/Zadina
This matchup is not going to go well for Blue Shirts as a veteran line with skill and physicallity is going to really challenge the kid line for the Rangers. Something tells me that Guentzel will slide up to the top line with Zucker playing LW on this line while Mangiapane drops down to line 3. Even if this happens I like the matchup for the Canucks.
Line 3 Matchup: D. Ryan/Zucker/Garland vs. Anisimov/Foligno/Cogliano
As it stands I like the matchup better for the Canucks as Zucker is the best player here but if Mangiapane drops down I like the experience of the Rangers line as all three players are versatile and can play well in all three zones.
Line 4 Matchup: Acciari/Motte/Fast vs. Paul/Stewart/Hinostroza
Fourth lines don’t factor in much and both of these teams are likely to use their third lines as shut down lines. However, I like the checking ability of the Canucks 4th line better while Paul and Hinostroza offer a little more offensive ability and Stewart can punch people in the face…..if he can catch them. Still I give the edge to the Rangers.
D Pairing 1 Matchup: Suter/DeAngelo vs. E. Johnson/Sergachev
These are very similar pairings with a veteran with a complete game and a younger D man with offensive flare. Will give the slight edge to the Rangers as Sergachev has a more well rounded game However, if Pionk moves to the top pairing the balance of power could well shift.
D Pairing 2 Matchup: Pionk/Niskanen vs. Dillon/Hronek
Edge goes to the Canucks here as Niskanen offers slightly more than Dillon who has footspeed issues while Hronek and Pionk is a saw off. If Pionk moves to pairing 1 and DeAngelo to this pairing it could see-saw as well. Moral of the story? Top two pairings are really even.
D Pairing 3 Matchup: Miller/De Haan vs. Dunn/Boqvist
Finally, some contrast. Miller and De Haan are a veteran duo that plays steady defense but offers not much else while Dunn and Boqvist are both offensively focused and could get some PP time. We will give the edge to the Canucks but it could easily go the other way if the young Rangers duo is successfully sheltered.
Goalie Matchup: Bishop / Varlamov
This is a tie in skill and also in injury history. Interestingly both teams have high quality backups in Halak and Lundqvist if a groin pull or knee strain does occur.
Conclusion: After all this line by line analysis, the conclusion is that it is really tough to draw a conclusion. These two teams are very very comparable, and it will likely be a close first game for both franchises. Ultimately it comes down to the Rangers speedy youth vs the Canucks veteran know-how.
We will give the win to the Rangers (kind of have to, it’s my article) with a 4-3 win in overtime. Winning goal is McDavid (who else) from Sergachev and Kreider after Suter get’s stuck on a 3 minute shift in OT and McDavid takes advantage and blows by him for a breakaway winner.