Montreal Canadiens vs. New York Rangers Pick & Prediction JANUARY 6th 2024

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The Montreal Canadiens have a quest to make home a happy place again.

As they prepare to play host to the New York Rangers on Saturday, the Canadiens are coming off a 6-1 home loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday, leaving Montreal with only two victories in its last 11 home affairs (2-7-2).

“(The) home record should be good,” Canadiens captain Nick Suzuki told Postmedia. “We definitely play well on the road, but we got to find better ways to win at home. Teams are psyched up to play here with the building and the crowd. We definitely have to be better at home.”

The Canadiens simply need to be better than they have of late regardless of the arena and in all areas. As the league-leading Rangers arrive, the Canadiens have lost four of five games.

Injuries are definitely impacting the Canadiens, who learned a couple of days ago that Christian Dvorak will be out for the season. Montreal is on a long-term basis without three key centers in Dvorak, Kirby Dach and Alex Newhook, while forwards Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Tanner Pearson and defenseman Chris Wideman are also sidelined.

Even so, the Canadiens know they must find a way to battle through adversity if they expect to return to the playoff mix. Just as they know their struggling penalty kill, ranked 31st overall, must be improved.

“Sometimes it’s just individual mistakes that kind of cost us,” defenseman David Savard said of the short-handed struggles. “I don’t think it’s our system or anything. I think we just got to figure out a way to kill those. Everybody’s got to do their job, and we’ll be fine if we do that.”

The Rangers are north of the border riding high in the standings and coming off Thursday’s 4-1 home win over the Chicago Blackhawks, but also in need of a shot in the arm.

The Rangers have won two of three games, but by their standards have been scuffling along the past month (8-6-0).

Their saving grace has been an ability to bounce back from defeat. New York, which headed into the clash with Chicago on the heels of a 6-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, boasts an outstanding 10-1-0 record in games after a loss.

“There’s all those cliches, great teams don’t lose two in a row, and we take pride in that,” forward Vincent Trocheck said. “Obviously, we focus on some things after losses. Like the other night, we go to the drawing board, we watch the tape and we made some adjustments to whatever we thought we were doing wrong.”

While Trochek netted three points for the second time in three games and goaltender Igor Shesterkin had a bounce-back performance, the Rangers broke open the game with a pair of early third-period goals by Jacob Trouba and Jimmy Vesey.

“It was good, right out of the gate,” coach Peter Laviolette said of the third-period push. “I liked the fact that we came out with the right intent right away. We started playing fast, playing in their end, putting pucks at the net.”

Rangers forward Chris Kreider scored his 20th goal of the season and joined elite company. Kreider has nine seasons with 20 or more goals, tied for second in Rangers history with Jean Ratelle and trailing only Rod Gilbert (12 seasons). Kreider is also riding a career-best eight-game point streak in which he has collected four goals and 11 points.

–Field Level Media

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