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Rangers take on tough Nashville team; Talbot taking over as Rangers starter

Bobby Bevilacqua

cam talbot vs nashville

Cam Talbot will get his chance to shoulder the number one goalie role for the Rangers for the time being, with his second consecutive start coming against a very strong Predators team. Photo courtesy of the New York Rangers.

After finding out that Henrik Lundqvist will be sidelined for three weeks, the Rangers (30-15-4) will take on a tough Nashville Predators (33-12-6) team at Bridgestone Arena. Cam Talbot will step in as the Rangers starter for the time being, and will start back-to-back games for the first time this season.

This is the first of two matchups between these two teams, with the second and final game coming at Madison Square Garden on March 2nd.

The Rangers currently have a six game unbeaten streak (5-0-1) in Music City dating back to 2002-2003 season. The Rangers shut out the Predators back in November of last season, with goals coming from Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh, and Cam Talbot picking up a 17 save shutout.

However, this is a different Predators team, one that is competing for the top spot in the Western Conference. Some key offseason signings and the return of Pekka Rinne, who already has 29 wins, has made them a dangerous team, especially at home. Nashville has an incredible record of 20-3-1 at Bridgestone Arena this season.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Nashville Predators

Pekka Rinne is back between the pipes for the Predators, and leads the league in goals allowed average and is tied for the league lead in wins. Photo courtesy of John Russell – Getty Images.

 

Leading the Predators in points is Filip Forsberg, an outstanding rookie prospect who has a total of 46 points (17-29-46) in his first 51 games in the NHL. Forsberg is an outstanding player with a good shot and skills to go with it, and the Rangers will need to keep an eye out for him. Forsberg has four points in his past three games, and seven points (2-5-7) in his last seven games.

Mike Ribeiro was one of the Predators offseason acquisitions, and he has exceeded expectations, already surpassing the 40 point mark. Ribeiro is second on the team with 43 points (10-33-43), and is an excellent passer. Shea Weber and his booming slap shot from the point will also be a huge threat. The captain leads all defenseman in goals (11) and points (36). And of course, Pekka Rinne is a spectacular netminder, and will be tough to score on. The 32 year old Finnish goalie is 29-7-2 with a 2.02 GAA and a .919 save percentage.

The Rangers are in the midst of a three game win streak, with wins in 19 of their last 24 games dating back to December 8th. Today will mark the first game with Talbot temporarily taking over as the number one goaltender for the Rangers.

In his career, which began last season, Talbot is 17-10-2 with a 1.81 goals allowed average and a .935 save percentage in 29 starts. He has six career shutouts, and has allowed two goals or fewer in 20 of his 29 shots.

Talbot has been a capable backup, but it is time for him to prove he can “shoulder the load” as he said in an interview on Friday. The players have confidence in him as well, with team captain Ryan McDonagh reiterating that they have just as much confidence when Talbot is in net.

This season, Talbot is 5-4-1 with a 2.14 GAA and a .924 save percentage in 12 appearances, 10 starts.

Kevin Klein will be making his first appearance in Nashville since the Rangers acquired him in a trade on January 22nd, 2014 for Michael Del Zotto. The trade has worked out for the Rangers very nicely, with Klein now on the second defensive pairing alongside Marc Staal. Klein leads Rangers defenseman in goals with eight, a career high, as well as in points with 18. Klein is also tied with Rick Nash for the team lead in plus-minus rating, currently sitting at a plus-20 mark. His career high prior to this season was a plus-9 rating. He should be very excited to return to a city he remembers so fondly, and could very likely have a big game.

kevin klein 2-4

Kevin Klein will be making his return to Nashville, where he spent the first nine years of his NHL Career. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

Rick Nash has been tremendous during the Rangers brief three game win streak, totaling four goals and an assist in that span. Nash is tied with Alex Ovechkin for first in the NHL in goals with 32, and leads the team in points with 48. Nash is also on pace to potentially tie or break Jaromir Jagr’s tea, record of 54 goals in a season, and could be having one of the best seasons of his career.

Yesterday, it appeared that JT Miller was going to replace Lee Stempniak in the lineup. However, Vigneault said that Derek Stepan (flu) was feeling under the weather, and that there is less than a 50% chance he will play. It will be a game time decision. If he is out, JT Miller will replace Stepan, and Stempniak will remain in the lineup.

The Rangers and the Predators will face off at Bridgestone Arena at 3 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINES

Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Martin St. Louis

Chris Kreider-JT Miller-Mats Zuccarello

Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Lee Stempniak

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Kevin Klein

John Moore-Dan Boyle

Cam Talbot

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Posted on February 7, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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