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Rangers begin longest road trip of season vs. Flames

New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal (18) and

New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal (18) and goalie Antti Raanta (32) looks to clear the puck as Boston Bruins left wing Matt Beleskey, left, and Riley Nash (20) looks to score during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016, in Boston. Credit: AP / Mary Schwalm

CALGARY, Alberta — The longest road trip of the season so far gets underway Saturday for the Rangers at one of the oldest arenas in the NHL, the Scotiabank Saddledome, which was built in 1983.

The press box, a sort of shaky gondola reached via catwalk, brings much trepidation to writers and broadcasters.

But regardless of the locale, much of this country will be watching, because the game is nationally televised as part of the weekly “Hockey Night in Canada” schedule.

The Flames have lost their last three games and are sixth in the Pacific Division with a 5-9-1 record, but the Rangers (10-4) vow not to take them lightly, having come off a disappointing 5-3 loss at home on Tuesday.

“We were flat,” said defenseman Marc Staal. “We’ve had a few days here, which is pretty rare, hopefully that refreshed everyone’s legs. We’ve played a lot of home games, and when you do that, you kind of get comfortable in what you’re doing. We’ve got to get it back to a simpler game.”

The Blueshirts are 2-2 on the road, which isn’t good enough for center Derek Stepan. “The 41 games that you are not at home, you have to find a way to have success,” he said. “We have three games in four nights against teams that we don’t see a whole lot. We have to be sharp from the puck drop.”

Brian Elliot is in the nets for the Flames; Henrik Lundqvist, who did not face Calgary last season, is between the pipes for the Rangers. Antti Raanta played both games last season, a 4-1 win at MSG on Oct. 25 and a 5-4 overtime loss here on Dec. 12.

Lundqvist last started here in a 5-2 win on Dec. 16, 2014. He stopped 29 shots and Rick Nash, Chris Kreider and Derek Stepan, who have been reunited as a line, scored four goals. Lundqvist has won three of his last four against the Flames.

Coach Alain Vigneault, who said that his team’s play has not been as sharp on both ends of the ice in the last few games, has shuffled his lines, defense pairs and power-play units.

Here’s the projected Rangers lineup:


Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash

Pavel Buchnevich-Mika Zibanejad-Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey-Kevin Hayes-J.T. Miller

Michael Grabner-Brandon Pirri-Jesper Fast


Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Brady Skjei

Nick Holden-Kevin Klein


Henrik Lundqvist-Antti Raanta


The Flames, who want to play strong defense and make the Rangers attack “come through layers” according to coach Glen Gulutzan, are expected to counter with:


Johnny Gaudreau-Sean Monahan-Alex Chiasson

Michael Ferland-Mikael Backlund-Michael Frolik

Hunter Shinkaruk -Sam Bennett-Troy Brouwer

Linden Vey-Matt Stajan-Freddie Hamilton


Mark Giordano-T.J. Brodie

Brett Kulak -Deryk Engelland

Dougie Hamilton-Dennis Wideman


Brian Elliot-Chad Johnson


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