LOS ANGELES - Marc Staal, who began Monday night's game two points shy of 100 in his NHL career, is getting a real opportunity on the first power-play unit under coach Alain Vigneault.
Staal, in his seventh season with the Rangers, is healthy after a concussion and an eye injury limited him to 67 games the past two years. He had only six power-play goals in his career before scoring from the point at Phoenix in the Rangers' opener.
"I like his shot and I like the fact that he's been able to sneak into the holes in the right areas," Vigneault said.
Staal scored in that fashion, creeping into the zone, taking a pass from Rick Nash and beating Mike Smith at 3:38 of the second period. Brad Richards is manning the other point on that unit. "With Brad you've got a guy who can shoot and pass," Vigneault said. "With Marc right now, we're giving that a look."
The second half
Tuesday's game in San Jose completes the first of 13 back-to-backs. Last season, the Rangers were 3-1-0 on the road in the second game of such a series. Henrik Lundqvist for his career is 41-17-7 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .932 save percentage in second games. But Vigneault is considering giving backup Martin Biron a start in one of the next three games, against the Sharks, Ducks or Blues.
Coach knows West
The Rangers don't play an East team until Oct. 16 at Washington. "What it does for me now, the teams that we're playing I know," said Vigneault, who coached Vancouver for seven years. "As far as preparing our team, I've got a good handle on what's coming and that should help our team. I don't know the East, so it's a good thing we haven't played them."