The New York Rangers vs The Minnesota Wild
The Puck drops at 7:30 inside Madison Square Garden
Coming off a really bad beat By the Islanders just two nights ago, the Rangers are looking for redemption (I hope). Brad Richards still leads the team in points with 26; 17 from assists. In the last 5 games Richards has three points. With average ice time of around 21-21 minutes per game, Richards has only 17 shots on goal and is a -5; that’s a bit rough for the team leader in points. Also in the last 5 games, Mats Zuccarello posted four points, including 1 goal with under 19 minutes per game average. His season totals have him second in points on the team with 17 assists for 24 total points. His career totals are 40 assists for 58 points; this season he is really pushing hard. Derek Stepan has two goals for three points in the last five games for a season total of seven goals for 23 points. The team is 16-18-2 with 34 thus far, which is good for sixth place in the Metropolitan Division. The division is very is very close this year. Two points tonight against the Wild would move the Rangers into fourth place, based on number of wins, and one point behind the Devils. At this point the starting goalie for the Rangers has not been confirmed, though after eight straight starts it would seem most logical to play Cam Talbot. On the flip-side of that statement, when do the Rangers do things that are logical?
The Wild enter the Garden tonight boasting a 20-12-5 record good for fourth in the Central Division; that’s no easy division. With Josh Harding out on injured reserve due to a new treatment plan for his Multiple Sclerosis (BEST OF LUCK!), the Rangers will most likely face Niklas Backstrom. With a 2-6-2 record and a 3.12 goals against average, Backstrom’s save percentage is .896. The Rangers are looking at facing another backup goalie (I can hear the groans) who has given up 12 goals in his last 3 games. If the Rangers come out with pressure the way they did against the Islanders, we may see some scoring. Team leaders in points for the Wild are Mikko Koivu, brother of the Ducks’ Saku, and Zach Parise with 27 points each. Behind them, with 24 points, is Jason Pominville. This top line have combined for 38 goals and 40 assists in 37 games while averaging only about 20 minutes of ice time. This should be news to the Rangers’ Ryan McDonagh’s ears, considering his ice time in recent games being so high. The wild are a very technical team who don’t give up many penalties; exception to Zenon Konopka. With 55 penalties in minutes over 34 games while averaging only about seven minutes of ice time, he’s the button to push when looking to get the man advantage. Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin are the top defensive pairing for the Wild and they will make their presence known.