Break Out: Rangers vs Panthers

Debby Wong-USA TODAY Sports

What: New York Rangers vs Florida Panthers

When: Tonight the puck drops at 7:30 in Sunrise, Florida

Henrik Lundqvist will lead the team, tonight, against the Panthers after a tough loss in Tampa just two nights ago. The Rangers last faced the Panthers at Madison Square Garden on November 10th when they posted a 4-3 win. The line-up tonight has the potential to change from what has been seen since the return of Rick Nash. Since J.T. Miller has been a healthy scratch for the last 4 games and Taylor Pyatt being cleared to play, the roster move has been made for Miller to return to Hartford. The question now becomes, who will be the new healthy scratch. We should know this afternoon.

Since playing the Panthers, the Rangers have gone 3-4 scoring only nine goals in seven games. Four of those games were on the road with three being wins. The Rangers have scored six goals on the roads and been scored on seven times. The Rangers have also posted huge wins in Montreal, Dallas, and Nashville since playing the Panthers. The “Dad’s Trip” with the team has now ended so things go back to the normal grind; hopefully the loss in Tampa is fuel to fire the team up tonight.

Lundqvist currently holds a 2.51 goals against average with a 7-10 record boasting 2 shutouts and a .917 save percentage against 492 shots. The Rangers have scored 48 goals this season and have been scored on 59 times. Current goal scoring leaders on the team are Brad Richards and Ryan Callahan with six each, Derek Stepan, and Ryan McDonagh each have five goals. The point leaders on the team are Stepan and Richards with 16pts; followed by McDonagh, Kreider, and Mats Zuccarello with 12pts each. Callahan, Derick Brassard, and Carl Hagelin each have 9pts. The next name is one that I least expected to see, Brian Boyle has 6pts on the season. Boyle is one player who has really stepped up this season and making the change to wing has really suited him well. There are only five players on the team who are on the plus side; Kreider (6),  Zuccarello (4),  Hagelin (3), and Anton Stralman (1) with Richards being neutral (0). Everyone else is a negative but all players on the active NHL level roster have at least 1 point.

The Panthers have gone 4-3 since our last meeting scoring 19 goals and giving up 16 goals in their seven games. They are two for two in home games and 4-2-1 over all since our last meeting. They have posted wins over Anaheim, Colorado, and Vancouver after facing us. Colorado was the only game that wasn’t close in scoring.

This season the Panthers are 4-4-3 at home. They have scored 24 goals and been scored on 29 times. Thomas has three of the four wins at home. Brad Boyes leads the team in goals with eight followed by Marcel Goc with six. Jonathan Huberdeau follows with five goals. We know that Alecsander Barkov and Scottie Upshall are guys we will hear mentioned frequently; they have 10 and 12pts on the season, respectively. Also with 12pts are Brian Campbell, Tomas Fleischmann, and Brad Boyes. Tim Thomas will be the Panthers’ starting goalie tonight. This seems a bit odd at first because it will be 10 straight starts for the veteran net minder, though he also has the lowest goals against average for the Panthers with 2.66 and a .914 save percentage.

The overall numbers between the Rangers and Panthers aren’t really a big determining factor either. The teams are .500 splitting 24 games at 12 apiece. The Rangers have scored 59 goals against the Panthers and the Panthers have scored 48 goals against the Rangers. When playing in Florida, the split is slightly in favor of the Rangers, 4-5 with 15 goals for the Rangers and 20 goals for the Panthers. Tonight’s game seems most likely to be a low scoring battle to the end, much like it was at MSG earlier this month. Let’s hope we don’t get a repeat of the same stupid penalties as the last game (Kreider putting the Rangers on the penalty kill for the last two minutes of the game).

Note: Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, Mazel tov!!

Topics: Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Derick Brassa, Henrik Lundqvist, J.T. Miller, Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers, Rick Nash, Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh, Taylor Pyatt

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