Rangers take on desperate Los Angeles Kings team; Fast looking to stay hot
Following a 7-2 clobbering of the Anaheim Ducks at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers (46-18-7) conclude their brief two-game homestand in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Finals, taking on the Los Angeles Kings (35-23-14) for the second and final time this season.
Surprisingly, the Kings find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff race, sitting two points behind the Calgary Flames for third in the Pacific Division, and four points behind the Jets for the final wild card spot. Despite going 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, the Kings can’t afford lose many games. Including tonight, there are just 10 regular season games left for Los Angeles.
The Rangers got a bit of revenge when these two teams last met, coming away with a 4-3 victory at the Staples Center. Cam Talbot was in net, stopping 28 of the 31 shots that he faced. Dan Boyle had a power play goal and an assist, and Derick Brassard picked up two helpers.
This could very well be a goaltending duel, with the red-hot Tablot facing off against Jonathan Quick. Although Quick may not have the flashiest regular season stats, he has a tendency to make big saves at big times, and can steal games at will. Quick started last night, stopping 19 of the 20 shots he faced in a 3-1 victory over the Devils. Quick is 31-19-12 with a 2.27 GAA and a .916 save percentage.
Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter are Los Angeles’ two best forwards, leading the team in points and goals, respectively. Kopitar is having a very solid season, tallying 42 assists along with a respectable 15 goals, and centering the Kings top line. Jeff Carter, the center on “That 70’s Line” throughout the season, has already surpassed last year’s point total, with 25 goals and 28 assists in all 72 of the Kings games this season.
Los Angeles also has depth on the back end, and defensemen that can contribute to the offensive game. Drew Doughty logs nearly 30 minutes a game, and has five goals and 36 assists this season. Jake Muzzin is quietly having a really good year, with 35 points (6-29-35) in 66 games played this season. On top of that, deadline acquisition Andrej Sekera has a goal and two assists in 12 games with the Kings this season.
Henrik Lundqvist was on the ice for the morning skate, but still needs time to get his timing back. Cam Talbot will start his 22nd game since Lundqvist was injured, and is looking to continue his fantastic month of March. Talbot made 36 saves in Sunday’s win over the Ducks, and is yet to allow more than two goals in regulation this month. A win tonight would give Talbot 20 wins this season, which means that two Rangers goalies would have 20 wins in the same season.
New York managed to break out of their offensive woes in the last game, finding the back of the net seven times against Anaheim. Six different players scored goals, and both Derek Stepan (2-1-3) and Keith Yandle (0-3-3) had three point performances. They also managed to score on the power play, the first time they had done so in eight games.
The top line of Kreider, Stepan, and Nash had a really good game on Sunday, with both Kreider and Stepan snapping their goal droughts. All that’s left is for Nash to break out of his offensive woes. Nash has just one assist in his last six games, and just two goals in the last 12 games, one of them being shot into an empty net. He has been getting a lot of great chances, but just not has that puck luck and finishing touch from earlier this season.
This is not to say that he is playing bad, because he has still been effective while on the ice. Nash is arguably the best defensive forward on the team, and creates chances for others in each game. But tonight is the night where he needs to get going again, and he is my key player for the game.
The trio of Derick Brassard at center with JT Miller and Mats Zuccarello on the wings has worked wonders in the last two games, scoring in both of the games over the weekend. Miller has goals in both games, and Brassard scored on Sunday, so this line is performing very well.
The third line continues to add yet another scoring line for New York, giving them three lines that can create pressure. Kevin Hayes has 19 points (7-12-19) in the last 25 games, but Jesper Fast has been great on this line, getting bumped up due to the St. Louis injury. Fast scored a gorgeous spinning goal against the Hurricanes, and stuffed in a wraparound chance against the Ducks, giving him five goals on the season, and his first career two game goal streak. Watch out for him tonight.
The Rangers and the Kings will faceoff tonight at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.
EXPECTED LINES (Not Confirmed)
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash
JT Miller-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Jesper Fast
Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-James Sheppard
Marc Staal-Ryan McDonagh
Keith Yandle-Dan Girardi
Matt Hunwick-Dan Boyle
Posted on March 24, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged Alain Vigneault, Anaheim Ducks, Cam Talbot, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Dominic Moore, Drew Doughty, Henrik Lundqvist, James Sheppard, Jesper Fast, Jonathan Quick, JT Miller, Keith Yandle, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, King Henrik, LA Kings, Los Angeles Kings, Mackenzie Skapski, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Marian Gaborik, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Hunwick, MSG, MSL, New York Rangers, NHL, NHL 2014-2015 Season, NY Rangers, NYR, Rangers, Rangers Nation, Rangerstown, Rick Nash, Ryan McDonagh, Tanner Glass, The Ranger Zone. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.