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Rangers take on desperate Senators team in last regular season game at MSG

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers salute the crowd 4-4

The Rangers will salute the crowd for the final time this regular season as they prepare to battle in the playoffs. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After clinching the Presidents’ Trophy on Thursday night, the Rangers (52-21-7) are back at Madison Square Garden for the last regular season home game, where they are set to take on the Ottawa Senators (41-26-13), a team still clinging onto their playoff hopes, and coming into tonight’s game with a must-win attitude.

Tonight will be a special night for both the players and the fans, as they get to cheer for their team, watch a special presentation before the game, and hopefully send them off to the playoffs on a positive note. This is just the third time in franchise history that the Rangers have won the Presidents’ Trophy, and the first time that they have done so since the 1993-94 season.

The Rangers have already tied the franchise record for wins in a season (52) set in the 199-3-94 season, and are just one point shy of tying their record for points in a season (112). Eclipsing both of those records would truly cap off an amazing regular season.

The Rangers and Senators are playing for the third and final time this season, with New York looking for the season series sweep. The last matchup was two weeks ago, when the Rangers became the first team in the NHL to clinch a playoff berth with a 5-2 victory in Ottawa. Chris Kreider scored twice in that game, reaching the 20 goal mark for the first time in his career, and Tanner Glass scored his first goal as a Ranger. In the January 20th game at MSG, Chris Kreider and Kevin Hayes scored in regulation, with Carl Hagelin netting the overtime winner. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 33 of the 35 shots that he faced.

carl hagelin celebrating 1-20

When New York and Ottawa last played at MSG, Carl Hagelin scored the game winner in overtime to send the Blueshirt faithful home with a victory. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

The Senators are coming off another magical win, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Penguins in overtime by a final score of 4-3. With a Bruins regulation loss last night, the Senators are tied in points with 95, but Boston holds the tie breaker. The Senators can’t afford to give up any points, and will be pushing hard for a win tonight.

Andrew Hammond enters tonight as the starting goalie, and a sparkling record since being recalled from the AHL. Hammond enters tonight with an 18-1-2 record, a 1.91 GAA, and a .937 save percentage in 21 starts. He has led the charge in the Senators’ resurgence, and gave them something to rally around. Hammond’s only career regulation loss came against the Rangers, and he has won three of his last four starts.

Mike Hoffman has had a very successful rookie season so far, leading all NHL rookies in scoring with 27 goals, as well as leading Ottawa in that category. He scored on a gorgeous top-shelf wrist shot to tie the game against the Penguins with less than 30 seconds remaining in regulation, and is certainly a force to be reckoned with.

With all the hype around Hoffman’s season, not many people have paid attention to Ottawa’s other rookie, Mark Stone. Stone is second in points amongst rookies, with an impressive 61 points (24-37-61), just one shy of Johnny Gaudreau of the Flames. Stone scored two goals in the win over Pittsburgh, including the overtime winner.

With home ice guaranteed throughout the playoffs, the Rangers will continue to rest some of their players tonight. Mats Zuccarello is still dealing with “overall body soreness,” and Marc Staal and Rick Nash will get the night off. Alain Vigneault said that Nash and Staal are dealing with day-to-day injuries, which is likely just general wear and tear issues.

As a result, Chris Summers and Ryan Bourque have been recalled from the Hartford Wolf Pack. Summers played one game this season with the Rangers against the Washington Capitals, and had an okay Rangers debut. Bourque, drafted in the third round of the 2009 draft by the Rangers, will be making his NHL Debut. The 5’9” forward has 12 goals and 18 assists in 70 games this season, and is known for his work ethic on the ice.

ryan bourque hartford

Ryan Bourque will make his NHL debut tonight for the New York Rangers. Bourque, 24, has 12 goals and 18 assists in 70 games with the Wolf Pack. Photo courtesy of the Hartford Wolf Pack.

 

Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net for New York tonight after getting Tuesday’s game in New Jersey off. Lundqvist is rolling as of late, with wins in four straight starts. He is currently sitting at 29 wins, and one more victory would make it the ninth season that he reaches the 30 goal mark. He is the only goalie to reach 20 wins in his first 10 seasons in the NHL, and a win tonight would be a big accomplishment.

While a lot of Rangers have been playing well, the third line has really been clicking and working well together lately. Kevin Hayes is coming off of a huge game on Tuesday, tallying a goal and two assists in the victory, giving him 43 points (16-27-43) in his phenomenal rookie season. Hayes’ knack for puck possession and generating scoring chances makes him one of the biggest threats on the ice.

Martin St. Louis has also been playing well since returning to the lineup, coming into tonight’s game with a three game point streak (1-2-3). St. Louis speaks very highly of Hayes, and really enjoys playing with him. The combination of their skills, with Carl Hagelin’s speed makes for a deadly trio, and they’re starting to work well together.

martin st. louis 4-6

Martin St. Louis has been finding his game since returning from injury, with three points in his last three games. Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

 

From the back end, the focus continues to be on Ryan McDonagh and Keith Yandle. McDonagh scored his third power play goal of the season on Tuesday, with Yandle picking up an assist on the play. McDonagh has seven points (1-6-7) in the last six games, and Yandle has 10 points (1-9-10) in the last 10 games. Both of them are excellent puck movers, with a quality shot to boot, and they come into tonight’s game scorching hot.

The Rangers and the Senators will face off at Madison Square Garden at 7 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINES (Not Confirmed)

Kevin Hayes-Derick Brassard-Martin St. Louis

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-JT Miller

Carl Hagelin-James Sheppard-Jesper Fast

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Ryan Bourque

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Keith Yandle-Dan Boyle

Matt Hunwick-Chris Summers

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on April 9, 2015, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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