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4:30 PM PT5:30 PM MT6:30 PM CT7:30 PM ET23:30 GMT7:30 4:30 PM MST6:30 PM EST3:30 UAE (+1)19:30 ETNaN:� BRT, October 4, 2018
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York  Attendance: 17,117

Rangers can make early statement vs. Predators

Nashville Predators at New York Rangers

  1. The Predators finished 53-18-11 last season, their best record in franchise history, netting them their first-ever division title and the Presidents' Trophy. A win over Colorado in the first round made them one of three teams (Washington and Pittsburgh) to advance to at least the second round in each of the last three seasons.
  2. The Rangers went 34-39-9 last year, finishing in last place in the Metropolitan and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2009-10. The last time the Rangers finished in last in their division was 1992-93 in the Patrick Division. They would go on to win the Stanley Cup the following season.
  3. New York is 5-2-0 against the Predators in their last seven meetings, including a 4-0-0 record at Madison Square Garden, where the Rangers have outscored them by a combined 15-6 in those games.
  4. Filip Forsberg led the Predators with 64 points, tying his career high, and set a new career high with 38 assists. He's reached at least 58 points in each of his four full seasons in the league.
  5. Mats Zuccarello led the Rangers with 53 points, the lowest total by any team leader in the league. He joined Jaromir Jagr (2005-06 to 2007-08) and Wayne Gretzky (1996-97 to 1998-99) as the only Rangers in the expansion era to lead the team in points in three consecutive seasons.
  6. The Predators got a combined 56 goals from their defensemen, five more than any other team in the league, led by P.K. Subban's 16. The Rangers had just 20 from their blueliners -- only Buffalo (19) had fewer.

NEW YORK -- The Nashville Predators are widely considered one of the teams likeliest to contend for the Stanley Cup this season. The New York Rangers are ... not.

But the Rangers will get an early opportunity to prove the prognosticators wrong Thursday night when they host the Predators in the season opener for both teams at Madison Square Garden.

The Rangers embarked upon a rebuilding project late last season, finishing 34-39-9 and in last place in the Metropolitan Division. New York shipped off several veterans at the trade deadline, including Rick Nash and captain Ryan McDonagh.

Immediately after the season, the Rangers fired head coach Alain Vigneault, who directed the team to playoff berths in his first four seasons at the helm and steered them to the Stanley Cup Finals in his first campaign in 2013-14.

Vigneault's successor is David Quinn, who arrived from Boston University to oversee the type of youth movement rarely undertaken in the Big Apple. But Quinn is not ready to concede the season, even though the Rangers' uphill task is made taller by their placement in the Metropolitan Division -- home of the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins, who combined to win the last three Stanley Cups.

"Obviously, a lot has been made of the different direction we're in right now, but we want to win every game," Quinn told reporters. "I don't think about it any other way, I think about coming here every day, being the best team we can be, making every guy a better player, making us a better team, collectively, and playing the way we want to play.

"And the winning and losing will take care of itself. And we feel we have enough good NHL players to give us a chance night in and night out."

There's little doubt the Predators have the players to compete for a title. Nashville, which reached its first Cup Finals following the 2016-17 season, led the NHL with 117 points last season (53-18-11) but fell to the Winnipeg Jets in a seven-game Western Conference semifinal series.

Head coach Peter Laviolette, who has put together a Hall of Fame resume by leading three franchises to the Cup Finals (he won the Cup with Carolina in 2005-06 and coached Philadelphia to the title round in 2009-10), is aware of the expectations surrounding the Predators and is eager to begin finding out just how good his team can become.

"It's the beginning of a journey for our group, and you hope to play a long time and find success all the way through," Laviolette told reporters. "That brings excitement to the guys that get sick of practices and training camp. They want to play games, and New York is a great place for us to start."

Two franchise icons are expected to start the game in goal for New York and Nashville.

Henrik Lundqvist is scheduled to set a franchise record by starting his 13th straight season opener for the Rangers. Lundqvist, who enters this year ranked within the NHL's top 15 all-time in wins, games and saves, is 8-5-0 in 13 games against the Predators.

Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne, who has spent his entire 12-year career with the Predators, will draw the start. Rinne, whose Vezina Trophy last year was his first, is 3-2-1 in six games against the Rangers.

Updated October 3, 2018

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