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Rangers kick off homestand against the Calgary Flames; Kreider looks to tie career high in goals

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-flames-2-24

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

  • New York Rangers (32-18-1, 65 PTS) vs Calgary Flames (27-24-3, 67 PTS)
  • The Rangers won their last game, a 2-1 overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres. They snapped a power play drought in the win thanks to Mats Zuccarello’s deflection goal, and Chris Kreider scored in overtime for his 20th goal of the season. Henrik Lundqvist was spectacular, making 36 saves in the win.
  • The Flames have won three straight games after snapping out of a rough stretch that saw them lost six out of seven. Their last game was a 4-3 overtime win over the New Jersey Devils. Mikael Backlund scored the game winner, Sean Monahan found the back of the net and TJ Brodie tallied four assists.

THE MATCHUP

  • This is the second and final matchup between these two teams, and the only one to take place at Madison Square Garden.
  • New York skated to a 4-1 victory over Calgary on Nov. 12, scoring two goals in each of the first two periods. Four different players found the back of the net, with Michael Grabner, Derek Stepan, Pavel Buchnevich and Jimmy Vesey scoring. Six different players tallied an assist and Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves.
  • The Rangers have earned at least one point in each of their last five games against Calgary dating back to Dec. 16, 2014 (4-0-1). They’ve also earned a point in eight of the last nine games against the Flames since 2010 (7-1-1).
  • Calgary enters the game in the wild card hunt, currently holding the second spot with St. Louis (55 PTS) and Winnipeg (54 PTS) close behind.
  • The Rangers have struggled at home lately, going 1-5 at Madison Square Garden in January and 14-11-1 there this season. But today begins an important four game home stand against beatable teams and the Rangers need to capitalize.

CALGARY FLAMES

  • Brian Elliot was acquired from the St. Louis Blues to be the starter for the Flames, but it’s been a season with a lot of ups and downs. His numbers are nowhere near as good as they usually are and he even lost the starting role to Chad Johnson for some time. But Elliot has won his last three starts and is likely to be in net today. He is 11-12-2 with a 2.80 GAA and a .896 save percentage.
  • Johnny Gaudreau missed 10 games this season with an injury, but he’s been an excellent addition to the lineup since coming back. In 44 games, Gaudreau has 34 points (11-23-34), and is in the midst of a three game point streak, tallying four points (1-3-4) over that span.
  • Matthew Tkchuk was not as high-profile of a rookie draft pick as Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid were, but he’s still a pretty darn good young player. Tkchuk has played in 50 games, recording 31 points (9-22-31). That puts him on pace for a 48 point season, which is definitely a great start to a career if he keeps it up. Earlier this season he had a nine game point streak with 10 points (1-9-10) in those games, but he has not scored a goal since Jan. 21.
  • Dougie Hamilton leads Calgary defenseman with 32 points (7-25-32) so far. Ten of his points have come on the powerplay, all assists, and that’s where he’s usually most dangerous.

NEW YORK RANGERS

  • Henrik Lundqvist will be making his eighth straight start this afternoon. Lundqvist is 4-1 against the Flames with a 2.33 GAA and a .921 save percentage in his last five appearances dating back to Oct. 20, 2011. This season he is 22-13-1 with a 2.73 GAA and a .907 save percentage.
  • Mats Zuccarello scored his 10th goal of the season in the Rangers’ last game, his second goal in the last four games. Zuccarello has nine points (2-7-9) in the last nine games and has been very consistent on the top line.
  • Chris Kreider scored the overtime winner against Buffalo, giving him a goal in the last two games. He has 20 already this season, and is one goal away from his career high which he set in the last two seasons. He’s also 10 points from setting a new career high in points with 31 games remaining. He’s on pace for 33 goals and 60 points which would be exactly what the Rangers have been hoping for.
  • Mika Zibanejad has an assist in each of the last two games, giving him 19 points (7-12-19) in 26 games. Against Calgary, Zibanejad has tallied four points (3-1-4) in his last two games against Calgary. He also has six points in seven career games against the Flames.

The Rangers and the Flames will faceoff at Madison Square Garden at 2 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINEUP

Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash

Michael Grabner-JT Miller-Jesper Fast

Matt Puempel-Oscar Lindberg-Pavel Buchnevich

Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi

Marc Staal-Nick Holden

Brady Skjei-Nick Holden

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on February 5, 2017, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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