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Rangers take on the Stars with trade connections looming

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers vs stars 2 2-8

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

After a resilient win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, the Rangers (35-20-6) will close out their three game road trip against the number one team in the west, the Dallas Stars (38-18-6) with trade rumors linking the two teams ahead of the Monday trade deadline.

Tanner Glass and Chris Kreider each scored a goal and Henrik Lundqvist was phenomenal, making 35 save and picking up his 30th win of the season, making that 10 seasons with at least 30 wins. The Rangers didn’t play all that well, but timely goal scoring and Henrik Lundqvist stole a win away from St. Louis.

The Rangers have now won 11 games in a row following a loss, and they haven’t dropped back-to-back games since December 20th when they lost 7-3 to the Washington Capitals to close out a 3-9-2 stretch. But in the last 11 games, the Rangers are 8-2-1 and as strong as any team lately.

This is the second and final meeting between these two teams, and the only one that will take place in Dallas. Back on January 5th, the Rangers dominated the Stars and cruised to a 6-2 victory at Madison Square Garden. Derek Stepan had two goals, Rick Nash had three assists and Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves.

Dallas has struggled lately, losing three of their last four games including a 6-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night. They’ve given up 19 goals in those three losses, six goals in two games and seven in the other.

Antti Niemi started the game on Thursday but was pulled after the first period, allowing three goals on eight shots. Nothing is confirmed but he’s likely to be back in net today. Niemi is 22-11-5 with a .904 save percentage and a 2.64 GAA.

The Stars are home to two of the best offensive talents in the entire league in Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. Each of them have scored 32 goals, and Benn has scored 70 points already, three more than Seguin. They play on the same line together and create one of the most intimidating offensive forces in the NHL.

Sometimes playing on their right wing is Valeri Nichushkin, the 20 year old Russian playing in his second full season in the NHL. He was drafted 10th overall back in 2013 and has a lot of upside. Through 59 games, he’s scored seven goals and 23 points. Nichushkin has been rumored to be on the trading block, and the Stars really want Keith Yandle from the Rangers, so watch out for him. It could be a sort of showcase game for him.

John Klingberg scored in the first game between these two teams, and he’s continued to rise up the charts as one of the best offensive defensemen in the game. Klingberg is tied for third in the league with 24 assists and third on the team in scoring with 52 points.

Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net for the Rangers today, with Vigneault citing the fact that he has been playing very well lately. Lundqvist has allowed two goals or fewer in seven of the last nine games, with all seven of those games resulting in wins. He’s won 11 of his last 15 starts and has a league-best even save strength percentage of .939%.

In practice on Friday, Jesper Fast suffered a broken nose after a puck deflected into his face. Vigneault said that despite his broken nose and a gash on his cheek, he would play in this game. With the deadline approaching, the Rangers need all of the cap space that they can afford. Fast has been held pointless in the last seven games, and he’s due for a point or two playing on the top line.

Keith Yandle saw his ice time dip dramatically with both Ryan McDonagh and Marc Staal back in the lineup. Yandle played just 16:54 on Thursday night, down from the 22 minutes he would play with McDonagh out. For some reason, Vigneault refuses to use him properly. But with many teams interested in trading for him, including the Stars, Yandle may get more ice-time if Gorton is planning on showing him off to potential suitors.

Kevin Hayes picked up another assist against the Blues, giving him 30 points for the season and points in three straight games, as well as eight in the last eight games. He’s been playing very well, shooting more and making great passes, and in what will likely be a free-flowing offensive game today, Hayes should shine.

The Rangers and the Stars will faceoff at the American Airlines Center at 4 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINEUP

JT Miller-Derick Brassard-Jesper Fast

Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Mats Zuccarello

Oscar Lindberg-Kevin Hayes-Viktor Stalberg

Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Marek Hrivik

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Dan Boyle

Keith Yandle-Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on February 27, 2016, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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