Marc WeissmanThanks to the outstanding play of a resurgent Henrik Lundqvist, the surging Rangers and their #1 goaltender won their 3rd game in a row as they defeated the LA Kings, 3-2, at Madison Square Garden last night.
Ever since he gave up 7 goals against the Dallas Stars a week ago, Lundqvist has gone from being Bronx cheered to Manhattan chanted as the Garden crowd showered Hank with throngs of “HEN-RIK!…HEN-RIK!” chants throughout the game. Hank and the much-improved Ranger defense have now given up only 2 goals or fewer in 3 straight games. This after yielding 4 goals or more in the prior 4 games. Quite a turnaround indeed.
It was evident from the get-go that Lundqvist needed to be – make that would be – rock solid in his second start of back-to-backs as the Kings came storming out of the Zamboni gate like a team on a mission. The irony is, LA sits in the non-playoff #10 spot in the Western Conference. Yet they were the ones who registered the first nine shots of the game before the EC 4th seed Rangers even mustered one. Amidst his team’s typical slow start, Lundqvist gobbled up everything thrown his way, played the angles with precision, used his lightning reflexes to their fullest and aggressively challenged crease and non-crease invaders alike. Read the rest of this entry
After an overtime win on the road against Detroit, the Rangers (30-16-1) are back at home to take on the Los Angeles Kings (22-20-4), closing out a back-to-back series and aiming for their third straight win.
The Rangers picked up their league-leading 17th road win of the season with a 1-0 overtime win against the Red Wings, with JT Miller scoring the only goal of the game. Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves for his second shutout of the season, marking his 20th win of the year and making him the first goalie in NHL history to start his career with 12 straight 20 win seasons.
The Kings have not fared as well lately, and this season, dealing with some injuries, a struggling offense and inconsistencies. They’ve lost their last three games and are three points out of a playoff spot. This is the second game of a five game road trip, and they play nine of their next 10 games on the road. Read the rest of this entry
Despite getting dominated in possession and getting worked over by the Ducks, the Rangers (40-23-7) picked up their 40th win of the season with a tightly contested 2-1 win, with Kevin Klein recording his first career two goal game. Now they continue their road trip on the west coast against the Pacific Division leading Kings.
Against Anaheim, the Rangers did not play their best game. They played a resolute style of defensive play, but the same problems that have plagued them recently continued to affect the game. Turnovers and careless play, poor transition, and more. You know the script. In fact, it took 19:30 for the Rangers to have a successful carry into the Ducks zone. That’s not good. The team as a whole was a -18 in corsi for, with Dan Girardi (-14) and Tanner Glass (-13) finishing worse in individual possession. Only three players finished positive in corsi for.
But they found a way to win. That seems to be the script for the season. The Rangers play alright, go dormant for a few stretches, and get bailed out at times by goaltending or lucky bounces, or simply outscoring the opponent. Needless to say, it’s an unsustainable type of hockey that probably won’t be a winning style of hockey in the playoffs.
Things don’t get easier as they take on the Los Angeles Kings for the second time this season. The Rangers lost in frustrating fashion to the Kings at Madison Square Garden on February 12th, falling in overtime after Anze Kopitar scored with 29.7 seconds remaining in regulation. Kevin Hayes, Mats Zuccarello and Derek Stepan each picked up a goal and an assist, and Viktor Stalberg also found the back of the net. The Rangers have earned a point in their last three trips to the Staples Center (2-0-1).
Jonathan Quick is the expected starter for the Kings, looking to build on an already strong season. Quick posted a shutout in his last start, stopping all 32 shots he faced. He’s 35-17-4 with a 2.14 GAA and a .921 save percentage.
Tyler Toffoli is en route to the best season of his career, posting a career high in goals (26) and leading the team in that category. He’s a point shy of equaling his career high total of 48 points. Nine of his goals are on the power play, four have been game winners, and he’s scored in two straight games.
Milan Lucic has been playing excellent hockey as of late, enjoying a strong first season out in California. Known for his aggressive game and physical brand of hockey, Lucic is feared for his scoring ability just as much as his ability to lay a huge hit. Lucic is riding a seven game point streak (3-6-9) and has 45 points (17-28-45) in 68 games. He’s also a tremendous possession forward, owning a 59.15 Corsi for percentage. Watch out for him.
After getting the night off, Henrik Lundqvist will be back in net for the Rangers. Hank has lost his last three starts, allowing three or more goals in all of the games. However, he’s been excellent against the Kings recently, with a 1.01 GAA and .966 SV% in his last two appearances.
Like the Ducks, the Kings play a physical brand of hockey due their large group of forwards. So like last night, Alain Vigneault will use his fourth line extensively. Tanner Glass, Dominic Moore and Viktor Stalberg all played over 11 minutes, with Glass getting the primary assist on the game tying goal. Glass actually has three points in the last nine games (2-1-3), which is half of his point total from last season. Hopefully this line combination does well and works tonight.
Keith Yandle is the only Rangers defenseman with 40 points this season, scoring five goals and tallying 35 assists this season. He has a point in eight of the last 12 games against the Kings, with 13 points (3-10-13) in that span. In 40 career games against the Kings, he has 25 points (5-20-25).
The Rangers and the Kings will faceoff at the Staples Center at 10:30 PM. The game will be broadcasted on MSG.
Rick Nash-Derick Brassard-Mats Zuccarello
Chris Kreider-Derek Stepan-Jesper Fast
JT Miller-Eric Staal-Kevin Hayes
Tanner Glass-Dominic Moore-Viktor Stalberg
Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Klein
Keith Yandle-Dan Girardi
Marc Staal-Dan Boyle
Tickets were worth the price of admission in what turned out to be a 5-4 loss to Anze Kopitar and the LA Kings.
A duel between backup goalies, both whom have not played in NHL action for an extended period of time, made for a high scoring affair in which Peter Budaj made one more save than Antti Raanta in OT.
The Rangers went down two goals early but battled back only to lose the lead late in the third. They would then lose the second point on a goal scorers goal from Tanner Pearson in the 3 on 3 overtime. This one was a high-paced affair that got off to a fast start when Anze Kopitar scored his first of three goals after Marc Staal arrived late for the 7:08 puck drop and had a really bad first shift. After Staal wasted an opportunity to exit the defensive zone with ease, he stood like a statue in front of Kopitar, who had all the time in the world to pick a corner and put the Kings up in the first minute of the contest. Read the rest of this entry
Bobby BevilacquaThe Rangers (31-18-5) are finally back on their feet and playing consistently, and they kick off a three game home stand tonight against the Los Angeles Kings (32-18-3).
Wednesday night’s game against the Penguins marked the fourth straight win for the Rangers, their longest win streak since they won nine games in a row back in October and November. Playing without Rick Nash and Ryan McDonagh has forced them to face the adversity and rise to the challenge, which they’ve done admirably.
This is the first of two matchups between these two teams and the only one that will take place at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers will travel to Los Angeles on March 16th for a game at the Staples Center. Last season, the teams split the season series, with the road team coming away with a 4-2 win both times. Read the rest of this entry