The New York Rangers are playing the Chicago Blackhawks.
Puck drop is scheduled for 8:00pm eastern.
The Rangers landed in Chicago yesterday and have started the process of time change as well as climate adjustment. The Rangers have progressed to a 21-20-3 record with 45 points and remain fifth in the Metropolitan Division. Also with 45 points are the Carolina Hurricanes, though they have a game in hand now after their game in Buffalo last night was postponed due to weather conditions. While any points tonight would move the Rangers ahead in the standings; two points would put the Rangers into third place in the division. Yes, ahead of the Washington Capitals and into playoff position. Yeah there is a lot riding on this game. Tonight is Dan Carcillo’s first night on the ice for the Rangers against one of his former teams, the Blackhawks. This should be a very interesting thing to see. Also, Chris Kreider returns after being tossed out of the last game for a very questionable call. Despite playing in only the first period and 27 seconds of the second period Kreider has taken over as the goal scoring leader for the team with 11. Carl Hagelin, Mats Zuccarello, and Brad Richards each have 10 goals. The Rangers have nine players with seven goals or more and the numbers are very close. Zuccarello still leads the team with his 30 points, though six players have 23 points or more. Ryan McDonagh remains the top defenseman in points and has eclipsed Dan Girardi, who continues to lead the team in hits with 107, in blocks with 71. Girardi has 70 blocks. CLearly we have found our top pairing defensemen, not that there was any doubt. Numbers like these should prove Girardi’s value to the team. Tonight we will see Henrik Lundqvist in net. Lundqvist is now 12-16-3 this season with 2.78 goals against average and .906 save percentage. In the last five games the Rangers have scored 17 goals and allowed only 13.
The Blackhawks are 29-7-9 with 67 points and are first place in the Central Division and second in the league. The reigning Stanley Cup Champions have scored 15 goals in the last five games and allowed 13. Corey Crawford will be in net tonight against the Rangers. Crawford has a 17-6-5 record this season with 2.47 goals against average and .910 save percentage. Form personal observation, Crawford has a HUGE “five hole” and it’s been that way since the AHL. There are no individual players to highlight because the entire team is deadly. Playing the Blackhawks will be much like playing the Penguins; keep your eyes open, your head up, and always expect a shot on goal. There are 10 Blackhawks heading to the Olympics in Sochi next month, compared to seven from the Rangers. This game will be a major fight and all the biggest names, even the unsung heroes, will have to be on their game tonight. No stupid penalties and not lazy plays. It’s got to be a full 60 minutes of hard work tonight.