Rangers look to tame the red-hot Wild; St. Louis back in the lineup
After snapping their brief two game in Winnipeg, the Rangers (48-21-7) are in Minnesota to close out their two game road trip against the Wild (44-25-7), a team that turned their season around with the acquisition of goaltender Devan Dubnyk before the trade deadline.
This is the second and final meeting between these two teams, with the first matchup being one of the most exciting games of the season. The Rangers overcame a 3-0 third period deficit, scoring five goals in the third period for an amazing comeback victory by a final score of 5-4. Kevin Klein, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Anthony Duclair, and Mats Zuccarello all scored, and Brassard added two assists.
Things have changed for the Wild since then, with new additions to their lineup, a new goalie, and a strong performance over the past three months, solidifying their position in the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
Devan Dubnyk has become the Wild’s savior since they acquired him from the Arizona Coyotes on January 14th. Before that deal, Minnesota was last in the Central Division with an 18-18-5 record, seven points out of the playoffs and 14 points behind the St. Louis Blues, who held the third position in the Central Division. With the Wild, Dubnyk has a 26-6-1 record in 34 games, along with a 1.70 GAA and a .939 save percentage. He has started all 34 of the team’s last game, and is the main reason for their turnaround. Dubnyk is currently in the midst of a five game win streak, with an 8-2-0 record in his last 10 starts.
Zach Parise leads the Wild in points, as well as being one of the leaders in the locker room. The former Devil has 30 goals and 28 assists in 69 games this season, with three goals in his last five games. A player with his skill level is someone that will always need to be kept in check on the ice. Thomas Vanek provides some scoring depth on the second line, chipping in with 20 goals and 30 assists.
The Rangers are coming off of a hard fought 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets, with goals coming from Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, and Chris Kreider. New York also scored a power play goal for the first time in five games, courtesy of Brassard. He noted after the game that despite the fact that they’ve been winning without scoring on the power play, they need to start converting more.
With the Penguins losing to the Flyers last night, a win tonight would secure a Metropolitan Division title for New York, and home ice advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs. The Rangers are also a point ahead of the Canadiens for the first overall spot in the Eastern Conference.
Henrik Lundqvist is coming off of a really strong start in Winnipeg, finishing with 32 saves for his first win since Febbruary 2nd. Lundqvist looked a lot more comfortable and patient in net, making some quality saves throughout the night. As he keeps on getting starts, the rust will continue to wear off as Henrik continues to get back to his elite form.
For the first time since March 15th, Martin St. Louis will be back in the Rangers lineup after missing eight games with a knee injury. Judging by his interview after practice, St. Louis seems very excited to get back in the lineup and contribute again. St. Louis will be skating on a line with Kevin Hayes and Carl Hagelin, hardly a third line at this point. It will be really exciting to that trio work together, a line that I think will work very well together. St. Louis has 20 goals and 27 assists in 68 games this season.
Mats Zuccarello is currently the hottest player in the Rangers lineup, with eight points (3-5-8) in his last seven games. The line of Rick Nash, Derick Brassard and Zuccarello was reunited for Tuesday’s game, and they were the Rangers best line. Alain Vigneault has successfully found a way to balance out all of the talent in his top three lines, all of which can score, and the top line with Zuccarello is one of the best at doing just that.
With St. Louis coming back in the lineup, James Sheppard is expected to be the healthy scratch tonight. Other than that, everything else remains the same.
The Rangers and the Wild will face off at the Xcel Energy Center at 8 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.
EXPECTED LINES (Not Confirmed)
Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-JT Miller
Carl Hagelin-Kevin Hayes-Martin St. Louis
Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Jesper Fast
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Dan Boyle
Keith Yandle-Matt Hunwick
Posted on April 2, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged Alain Vigneault, Cam Talbot, Carl Hagelin, Chris Kreider, Dan Boyle, Dan Girardi, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Devan Dubnyk, Dominic Moore, Henrik Lundqvist, James Sheppard, Jesper Fast, JT Miller, Keith Yandle, Kevin Hayes, Kevin Klein, King Henrik, Madison Square Garden, Marc Staal, Martin St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Matt Hunwick, Minnesota Wild, 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, Winnipeg Jets, Zach Parise. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.