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McDonagh and Nash OUT as the Rangers rematch the New Jersey Devils

Bobby Bevilacqua

Kevin Klein battle 2-2

Photo courtesy of Getty Images.

The Rangers (29-18-5) have an opportunity to put together a nice stretch of games, as they play host to the rival New Jersey Devils (26-20-7) for the second game between these teams in the past week.

After a rough start to the winter, the Rangers have finally started to play better and get the wins they need to stay afloat in a tight Metropolitan Division. Their come-from-behind victory on Saturday came following a dominant comeback win over the Minnesota Wild. It was just the second time since late November that the team has won two games in a row. They haven’t won three straight since their nine game win streak came to an end on November 15th.

The Rangers success couldn’t have come at a better time, since they will playing at Madison Square Garden for five of the next six games. They’ve already won 19 home games, tied for second in the NHL, and they’re 6-0-1 in their last seven games at the Garden. They’ve lost just once in regulation there since December 6th.

Since beating the Rangers last Tuesday, the Devils have lost twice in the shootout. This marks the third matchup between these two teams, with the final game coming in New Jersey on February 23rd. The Rangers have scored first in both games and wound up losing both of them, gaining a point in the overtime loss in October. JT Miller scored both of the Rangers goals last week, but the special teams play let them down.

Cory Schneider had an excellent performance last week, making 31 stops en route to his 23rd win of the season. He’s faced a total of 60 shots in the series and has stopped 57 of them. This season, he owns a 2.03 GAA and a .929 save percentage.

With Mike Cammalleri (14-24-38) still out with an upper-body injury, the Devils will have to lean on some of their other offensive threats. Lee Stempniak is enjoying his best season since 2006-07, when he scored 27 goals and 52 points with the Blues. Stempniak leads the Devils in points (39) and he is tied for the team lead in assists (24). He scored a power play goal last Tuesday as well as the overtime winner back in October, so chances are he’ll be active tonight.

Kyle Palmeiri has already set new career highs in goals (20) and points (35) in his first season with the Devils, and there’s still 29 games left for them to play. He’ll get a lot of minutes with Cammalleri out, and the Rangers need to watch out for him on the power play, where he has scored seven goals this season.

Henrik Lundqvist has played a lot lately, starting the last seven games and 43 of the team’s 52 games this season. Henrik was fantastic for most of the game against Philadelphia, especially in the second period, when he turned aside 19 of the 20 shots he faced to keep the Rangers in the game. He has 25 wins this season as well as a 2.40 GAA and a .920 save percentage.

Keith Yandle helped steal a win away from the Flyers on Saturday, scoring with the Rangers net empty and just 12.9 seconds left on the clock. Yandle played a lot of time after Ryan McDonagh left the game following a sucker punch from Wayne Simmonds. He wound up playing 27 minutes and 33 seconds, recording four shots on goal and the game winning goal, as well as finishing with a +12 Corsi For. He’ll play a lot tonight as well with McDonagh still out of the lineup.

Chris Kreider scored his 11th goal of the season on an excellent deflection, and he’s starting to pick up his play. He’s scored in each of the last two games, and he’s recorded five goals and six points in the last eight games. Against the Flyers, Kreider was very noticeable and created a lot of chances. He’s still struggling to finish some of his easier chances, like deking out Mason but missing the net on his backhand, but those chance will probably start to go in soon. With Rick Nash continuing to nurse his bone bruise, the Rangers need Kreider to step up.

It looks like Ryan McDonagh was actually injured against the Flyers, and he will sit out tonight’s game with a concussion. This makes things difficult for Vigneault, because McDonagh plays the left side and Dylan McIlrath plays the right side. So he will shift things around, and my guess is that McIlrath or Klein moves to the left. Also, the Rangers blue line now consists of Klein with a fractured thumb, Girardi, who probably still has a slight fracture in his kneecap, and no captain. That’s a problem.

Rick Nash will likely remain out of the lineup for today’s game, but he did tell Alain Vigneault that he’s feeling a lot better. Nash suffered a bone bruise back on January 22 against the Hurricanes, and has not played since. It is a serious injury and can take a while to heal, but hopefully he is back soon.

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

EXPECTED LINEUPS

JT Miller-Derick Brassard-Jesper Fast

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Oscar Lindberg-Kevin Hayes-Viktor Stalberg

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Daniel Paille

Keith Yandle-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Kevin Klein

Dylan McIlrath-Dan Boyle

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on February 8, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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