The New York Rangers at the Pittsburgh Penguins
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm
Oh what a game this is going to be. The Rangers have now had a few days off and are ready to take the ice again. The talk and focus of tonight’s game will be Taylor Pyatt. All eyes will be watching to see if he does anything spectacular. Rangers fans will either be screaming, “why didn’t he do that when he was here?!” or they will laugh and say, “Yeah, that’s why we waived him.” Ryan Callahan returns to the line up tonight after missing the last nine games due to a knee injury and J.T. Miller is the new healthy scratch. Entering tonight’s game, the Rangers are 20-19-2 with 42 points and are in fifth place of the Metropolitan Division. Two points tonight could move the Rangers ahead of the New Jersey Devils and even with the Philadelphia Flyers. Mats Zuccarello has eclipsed Brad Richards as the assist and point leader with 19 and 28 respectively. Chris Kreider leads the team in goals, with 10, and has a plus 10 rating. Carl Hagelin is the only other player who is not in the negative and he has a neutral rating of zero. Henrik Lundqvist will start again tonight. He is on a two game win streak and looking to extend. He now boasts a record of .908 save percentage and 2.70 goals against average. Dan Girardi continues to lead the team in hits, with 103 but Kreider has surged up through the ranks with 88 now. While Girardi is holding strong with 68 blocks, Ryan McDonagh has surged with 63 blocks. The team is beginning to play more to their potential, in most areas, despite overwhelmingly poor performances from key players.
The Penguins lead the Metropolitan division with 59 points from a 29-12-1 record. Despite suffering key losses on their roster from injuries, the Penguins have continued to dominate their competition. There are a total of four forwards out of the line-up tonight and an additional game-time decision as well as two defencemen. Most notably, Pascal Dupuis, Paul Martin, Kris Letang, and possibly Evgeni Malkin. Sidney Crosby has led his team through the fire and for that he boasts 22 goals and 37 assists for his 59 points. Crosby was also named one of the NHL three stars for the month of December. The Penguins are a threat from anywhere on the ice and from almost every player. The youngsters who have been filling in for injured veterans have been almost as effective on the ice as the players they replaced. Marc-Andre Fleury has a .920 save percentage with 2.15 goals against average and 3 shut outs. Statistically tonight’s goalies are very similar so the matchup comes down to who gets puck luck and who scores more goals. If the Rangers can stay out of the box and get the Penguins down a man they will have a much stronger chance at scoring goals.