New York Rangers vs Nashville Predators
The puck drops at 7:30pm
Coming out of a rough weekend the Rangers are looking to rebound against the Predators in a big way tonight. After an overtime loss against the Devils on Saturday night and a horrible loss to the Capitals on Sunday night the fall out was huge. The second “players only meeting” of the season, sent a signal that everyone knew without needing to hear it.
Henrik Lundqvist was the first goalie off the ice in practice this morning, signaling he is the starting goalie for tonight. This will be Lundqvist’s 5th straight start in goal for the Rangers. In the last four games the Rangers have given up 12 goals and only scored nine. Back at .500 is getting a little too comfortable for last year’s playoff team. With a record of 15-15-1 (31pts), the Rangers aren’t impressing anyone; least of all themselves. Tied for 3rd in the division and 8th in the conference with the Carolina Hurricanes isn’t something anyone would have predicted for this team. Alain Vigneault has decided to recall Arron Asham from the Hartford Wolf Pack making Benoit Pouliot and Taylor Pyatt the healthy scratches; Derek Dorsett also returns to the line-up tonight. Marc Staal’s concussion was confirmed today and was noted as not being as bad as his previous concussions. He consulted with doctors but did not visit in person.
With the changes in the line-up, it could be interesting to see where Vigneault places everyone. The most glaring issue is that two left wingers have been scratched to make room for two right wingers. The math doesn’t add up. The lines will depend greatly on which center remains on the wing. It seems as though both centers who have been transformed into wingers, Brad Richards and Brian Boyle, seem to have performed at a much higher level than what we have seen from them at center. The reinsertion of Asham brings back some of the grit as seen here against a much larger George Parros or earlier this year against Pat Maroon as seen here. Bear in mind that Asham is only 5ft 11 and 205lbs when you see him fighting guys who are well over 6ft tall. Other than grit, Asham does bring a bit of a scoring touch. He’s not one to be counted on for goals but he does get them, he had two in the regular season last year as well as two in the post season. In 786 career NHL games, Asham has scored 94 goals for 208 points and tallied 1004 penalty minutes.
The Predators are entering tonight’s contest with a record of 13-14-3 (29 points) and seventh in the central division. This is a team the Rangers faced not long ago and beat 2-0. The central division is a strong one and the previous win was not easy by any means. The Predators play a very physical game, we will see a lot of Seth Jones again. Carter Hutton has gotten the nod for tonight’s game. Hutton now has a 4-3-1 record with 3.26 goals against average for a .894 save percentage. The Rangers don’t tend to get many shots on net while Hutton only sees an average 24 shots per night. David Legwand leads his team with 20 points with 15 of those points coming from assists. Shea Weber leads the team with seven goals. Matt Hendricks, formerly of the Washington Capitals, is a known opponent for the Rangers; his physical style of play will show, as will Richard Clune’s, who also leads the team in penalty minutes, with 69, this season. When it comes to scoring, the Predators have a decent spread of ability with 6 guys who are a scoring threat, including defensemen. The players you will likely see the most on the ice for the Predators are S Jones, Weber, and Kevin Kline for the defense. Out front things are a little more difficult to say. Much like the Rangers, the Predators are stacked with centermen who are playing as wingers. There could be any combination going into this game. Here‘s a parting look at what the Predators can and just might do tonight.