Rangers ready for Blue Jackets rematch at MSG; Talbot back in net
After a rebound win in Buffalo, where rookie Mackenzie Skapski won in his NHL debut, the Rangers (35- 16-6) are back at Madison Square Garden, where they will play four of their next five games, including a division matchup against the Columbus Blue Jackets (26-28-3) tonight.
The Rangers and Blue Jackets have played twice this season, both games in Columbus, and have split the first two games. The last game was on January 6th, with the Rangers coming out with a 2-1 win thanks to goals by Marc Staal and Chris Kreider. Derek Stepan had two assists, and Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves.
The Rangers have earned a point seven straight games (5-0-2), and points in 10 of the last 11 games (8-1-2). Their success has propelled them past the Penguins and the Capitals, into second place in the Metropolitan Division. The Blueshirts sit just four points behind the Islanders with three games in hand.
The Blue Jackets played last night, coming up on the short end of the stick with a loss to the MontrealCanadiens, 3-1. Nick Foligno scored the lone Jackets goal, and he leads Columbus in goals (23) and points (53). Scott Hartnell has been red hot lately, with his eight game point streak getting snapped last night. Hartnell had four goals and seven assists in that span.
Curtis McElhinney started in goal last night, but could very likely play again tonight. With Sergei Bobrovsky out of the lineup, McElhinney has been shouldering the load, posting a 10-10-1 record with a 2.68 GAA and a .918 save percentage.
Cam Talbot will be back in net for the Rangers after taking Friday night off. Talbot had started the previous eight games, posting a 5-1-2 record, although he admitted that he needs to be better. Since he has assumed the starter role, Talbot has a .894 save percentage, a 3.18 GAA in the last four starts, and has allowed three or more goals in six of the eight games.
The games against the Blue Jackets tend to be very close, so good goaltending and tight defense is a must tonight. In fact, the Rangers played very well defensively against the Sabres, with the only miscue coming on the lone Buffalo goal 14 seconds into the game.
The one thing that plagued the Rangers against the Sabres was the power play, which has been largely ineffective for the few weeks. The Ranger are 1-13 on the man advantage in the last six games, including 0-9 since Vigneault put McDonagh and Zuccarello on the first power play unit. Maybe it’s time for Vigneault to put Dan Boyle, largely known as a power play specialist, and Martin St. Louis on the top unit again.
Mats Zuccarello scored in the game against the Sabres, continuing his resurgent play after a slow start to the season. Alongside Derick Brassard and Rick Nash, the line dominated throughout the night. Zuccarello has five goals and 11 points in the last 11 games, and is always a threat on the ice.
Over the last few games, the Rangers fourth line has been playing some of their best hockey of the season. Dominic Moore anchors the middle of the line, and Lee Stempniak has even started to contribute a bit more. Tanner Glass, who was largely unnoticed on the offensive side of the puck, has been on the ice for a few goals, acting as a disturbance in front of the net and along the boards. In what is likely to be a chippy game tonight, Glass’ aggressive presence should be important.
The only lineup change will be on defense, with John Moore replacing Matt Hunwick. Jesper Fast was skating today, but is not ready to return to the lineup.
The Rangers and the Blue Jackets will face off at 7:30 PM at Madison Square Garden. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.
I will be at the game tonight and will be wearing my Derick Brassard Heritage Jersey, and will be sitting in Section 227, Row 15, and Seat 2. If you’re at the game, feel free to come by and say hello!
Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Martin St. Louis
Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-JT Miller
Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Lee Stempniak
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Kevin Klein
John Moore-Dan Boyle
Posted on February 22, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged Alain Vigneault, Buffalo Sabres, Cam Talbot, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, Henrik Lundqvist, Jesper Fast, John Moore, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, King Henrik, Lee Stempniak, Mackenzie Skapski, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Hunwick, Michal Neuvirth, MSG, MSL, New York Rangers, NHL, NHL 2014-2015 Season, NY Rangers, NYR, Rangers, Rangers Nation, Rangerstown, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Skapski, Tanner Glass, The Ranger Zone. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.