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Coyotes face Rangers, Raanta faces the past

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The Coyotes take on the New York Rangers before heading in to their bye week.

NHL: Nashville Predators at Arizona Coyotes Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

The undefeated in 2018 Arizona Coyotes are taking on the New York Rangers tonight.

View From New York

For more information on the New York Rangers and their preview, visit Blueshirt Banter.

The Rangers are coming off a 5-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks and every point counts in the Metropolitan Division. They are fighting to hold on to a wildcard spot when only 6 points separates them from first and 5 points from last in their division.

Tonight’s game will be the first of a back-to-back for the East Coast team as they will be playing the Vegas Golden Knights tomorrow. This is also their first Western Conference road trip of the season.

View From Arizona

The Arizona Coyotes are coming ff a big win against the Nashville Predators meaning they are currently undefeated in 2018. The team will be looking to build on that win by playing a consistent game tonight so they can take that undefeated feeling in to their upcoming bye week.

The game could be particularly emotional for goaltender Antti Raanta as it will be the first time he gets to face his former team and potentially his former mentor Henrik Lundqvist.

Three Questions

Can they get a second win before the bye week?

The Coyotes won’t be able to play or officially practice during the team’s bye week so it’s important to go into it with a good mindset. Winning against the Original Six team

Can Goose keep his point streak going?

Alex Goligoski has points in each of his last four games. He is also tied for second in assists and is third in points.

How will Raanta handle his former team?

The night could be emotional for the 32-year-old netminder as it’s the first time facing his former team this season. Also he could potentially be going head-to-head with one of the best goalies in the league and his former tandem partner. To be fair it’s not the first time Raanta has been through this as he had similar experience after departing from the Blackhawks.

Players to Watch

Arizona: Christian Fischer - He’s been one of the most solid and dependable forwards for the Coyotes this season. Also he has the knack for stepping up in big moments as evidenced by his leading the team in game winning goals and overtime goals.

New York: Pavel Buchnevich - He leads the team in points per 60 at 1.65 for players with 5 games or more. He was just promoted to first line duties so he’ll be getting more minutes.

Injury Report

Arizona:

Niklas Hjalmarsson (upper body) has been practicing with the team but is not expected to return until after the bye week.

Zac Rinaldo (suspended) will be serving the fourth of his 6-game suspension for punching an unsuspecting opponent during the game against the Colorado Avalanche on December 23.

New York:

Chris Kreider (upper body) is already out with a blood clot in his arm and will undergo surgery to have a rib resected and will remain out indefinitely.

Puck Drop

Puck drop is at 6 p.m. AZ time at Gila River Arena. The game can be viewed on Fox Sports Arizona and Fox Sports Go. You can also hear the call by Bob Heethius and Paul Bissonnette ‘Heeter and Biz’ on AZ Sports 98.7 FM.