The New York Rangers at Tampa Bay Lightning
The puck drops at 7:00pm
Before we get to the chirping stages of tonight’s meeting, let’s just take a moment to wish Steven Stamkos continued success in his recovery from that gruesome moment when he snapped his tibia on the goal post during a November 11th game against Boston. Stamkos remains out indefinitely, though working towards a return before the Olympic break.
Now on to the good stuff. Henrik Lundqvist gets the nod tonight in goal. In 28 games played Lundqvist has 71 goals against him for 2.77 goals against average. With a .906 save percentage. After sitting the last three games let’s hope Hank comes out ready to prove he’s still the number on goalie on the team. Carl Hagelin now has four goals in his last six games. Three of his four goals are credited as game winning goals, can you say clutch? Along with those four goals, Hagelin posted an assist in each of those games. This gives Hagelin eight points in his last six games for a total of nine goals for 15 points in 29 games. Also with nine goals are Brad Richards who has a total of 27 points in his 39 games and Chris Kreider with 9 goals for 21 points in 32 games. Kreider and Hagelin are now the only players with a plus rating, +8 and +1 respectively. For some reason, Brian Boyle hasn’t been taking as many face-offs this season as usual; maybe it’s due to being moved to the wing. At any rate, Boyle and Dom Moore are the top face-off guys on the team; by a long shot. DMoore got off to a slow start this season but has turned it around in a big way by not taking penalties on the draws anymore. The Rangers have 25 power play goals this season; the leaders are Derick Brassard, Ryan Callahan, and Benoit Pouliot with 4 each. Kreider is close behind while Brad Richards, Mats Zuccarello, and Derek Stepan each have two power play goals. Derek Dorsett is the league leader in penalties in minutes but not on a per game average; he’s 10th there. Surprisingly, Boyle has more boarding and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties than Dorsett. The only “instigator” penalty assessed to the team, was given to Dorsett. The Rangers are tied with Minnesota and Detroit for 13th place in power play goals with 25, despite having played on 39 games to 41 in other cases. The Rangers have allowed only 18 power play goals against them this season, which is 24th in the league (this is a good thing). The power play percentage for the team is 18.9%, good enough for 11th in the league. The penalty kill percentage has the Rangers in sixth place with 85.1%; Vancouver leads the league with 89.4%. The Rangers are averaging 2.26 goals per game, that’s terrible! They are 27th in the league! On the other side, the team is averaging only 2.67 goals against per game which is 17th in the league. The team is averaging 31.4 shots per game, this is the eighth highest in the league, they just aren’t able to find the inside of net. Callahan, Staal, and Stralman are all taking part in the morning skate though it has already been decided that Stralman will not play tonight. The Rangers are now 18-19-2 with 38 points and sixth in the Metropolitan Division.
Tampa has elected to start Anders Lindback tonight. Lindback is 3-6-1 with 3.01 goals against average and .889 save percentage. Hopefully the Rangers can solve this getting beat by back-ups thing they’ve fallen into recently. Notably slow and frequently out of position, Lindback should be easier to beat than Ben Bishop. Currently on Tampa’s roster is Tom Pyatt, younger brother of Taylor, who was drafted by the Rangers then sent to Montreal as part of the Ryan McDonagh trade. If both play they could be facing each other for only the fifth time in their NHL careers. Maybe Tom will pay Taylor back for all the bloody noses he got as a kid? Tampa have notched 102 goals this season and have allowed 87. Leading the team is Martin St. Louis with 17 goals for 38 points. Just behind is Valtteri Filppula with 13 goals for 28 points (I wonder how Detroit feels about not resigning him). Filppula is also very strong on face-offs, Boyle will be needed to battle against him tonight. There is a very high probability that Radko Gudas will keep Dorsett busy tonight. Guddas has 82 penalties in minutes and is no stranger to majors (4) or fighting majors (4); nor is he a stranger to hits, he’s got 136 of those. Tampa stands in second place of the Atlantic Division with a 23-11-4 record and 50 points. They have players out injured, but it hasn’t stopped them from surging forward and rising above to get where they are. This will be a tough game with a lot of battles and on a physical level the Rangers will have to fight to maintain. Tampa is also a fast team so the Rangers have to stay spread out and ready at all times.