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Rangers go for the homestand sweep against the Avalanche; Lundqvist in search of 400th win

Bobby Bevilacqua

rangers-vs-avalanche-12-31

Photo courtesy of MSG Photos.

  • New York Rangers (35-18-1, 71 PTS) vs Colorado Avalanche (15-34-2, 32 PTS)
  • The Rangers are coming off of a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators in the third game of their homestand. Chris Kreider, Michel Grabner and JT Miller scored the goals for New York while Henrik Lundqvist made some impressive and timely saves, stopping 34 of the 37 shots he faced while securing his 25th win of the season.
  • Colorado has had a really tough season so far. After dismissing Patrick Roy in the offseason after the team had faltered in the two seasons after they went 52-22-8 in 2013-14. But now they have just 15 wins in 51 games and are firmly entrenched in last place in the league. They lost to the Penguins, 4-1, in their last game, with the only goal coming from Gabriel Landeskog. They had won two games in a row prior to the loss against Pittsburgh.

THE MATCHUP

  • This is the second of two meetings between the Rangers and the Avalanche and the only one at MSG. New York took down the Avalanche, 6-2, on Dec. 31 in Colorado. Chris Kreider recorded a hat trick and JT Miller scored twice. Henrik Lundqvist passed Dominik Hasek to become the winningest European born goalie in NHL history.
  • The Rangers have earned at a point in six of their last seven games against Colorado dating back to Feb. 4, 2014 (4-2-1).

COLORADO AVALANCHE

  • Calvin Pickard is the likely starter tonight. Semyon Varlamov is out for the rest of the season after another disappointing year in net, so the 24 year old Pickard gets to take the reigns as starter. So far he is 9-15-1 with a 2.93 GAA and a .906 save percentage.
  • Matt Duchene has been the subject of trade rumors for the last year or so, and it’s picked up again. He’s 26, a center with a lot of speed and skill, and has scored 30 goals and 70 points in the past, so his value will be high if he does get traded. He has not scored a goal since Jan. 17 but has 32 points (15-17-32) in 46 games this year.
  • Veteran Jarome Iginla is also another subject of trade rumors despite his struggling season. He’s scored a combined 51 goals and 106 points in the two prior seasons with the Avalanche (at the age of 37 and 38!) and can still provide a solid scoring presence for another team. He has 14 points (7-7-14) in 51 games this year.
  • Nathan MacKinnon is likely an untouchable for Colorado. He’s 21 and has had three strong seasons prior to this one, including a 24 goal, 63 point rookie season. He’s still been able to have a solid season this year, with 12 goals and 37 points through 51 games, as well as four points (1-3-4) in the last three games.

NEW YORK RANGERS

  • Henrik Lundqvist won his 399th career game in the win over the Predators, and aims to become the 12th goalie in NHL history to hit that milestone, and the first non-Canadian goalie to do so. If he wins tonight he would also beat Martin Brodeur’s record and be the fastest goalie to reach 400 wins. He’s won four straight games and is now 25-13-1 with a 2.70 GAA and a .911 save percentage.
  • Mats Zuccarello has a point in the last two games, and now has 41 points and a team high 30 assists. He’s been a mainstay on the top line and has played very well with Chris Kreider. He’s tallied a point in seven of eight career games against the Avalanche, including two assists in the Dec. 31 win.
  • Chris Kreider has been red hot as of late, currently in the midst of a five game point streak with four goals and an assist in the last five games. He had a hat trick in the last game against Colorado and will look to build on his career high 22 goals.
  • Nick Holden was acquired from Colorado for a fourth round pick in the offseason and has been a very steady and consistent defenseman for the Rangers. He hasn’t been scoring much recently but has eight goals and 25 points so far.
  • Dan Girardi is a game time decision. If he’s unavailable then Adam Clendening will stay in the lineup.

The Rangers and the Avalanche will face off at Madison Square Garden at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcasted on MSG Network.

EXPECTED LINEUP

Chris Kreider-Mika Zibanejad-Mats Zuccarello

Jimmy Vesey-Derek Stepan-Rick Nash

JT Miller-Kevin Hayes-Michael Grabner

Pavel Buchnevich-Matt Puempel-Jesper Fast

Ryan McDonagh-Nick Holden

Marc Staal-Adam Clendening

Brady Skjei-Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

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Posted on February 11, 2017, in Game Previews and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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