The New York Rangers host the Colorado Avalanche at Madison Square Garden.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm.
Since it’s been a few day, lets recap what’s going on with the team and the standings. The Rangers enter tonight’s game with a record of 30-23-3 with 63 points. The third place Columbus Blue Jackets pulled out an amazing win against the Anaheim Ducks last night to put themselves one point behind the Rangers in the standings. The Rangers are looking to continue their three game win streak through the next three games, leading up to the Olympic break. Despite announcing a possibility of starting Cam Talbot, coach Alain Vigneault has chosen to give the start to Henrik Lundqvist. With a 20-18-3 record, Lundqvist has finally broken .500; and he has three shutouts on the season. He has dropped his goals against average to 2.46 and his save percentage is up to .917 to this point. Brad Richards and Mats Zuccarello now share the team lead for points with 39. Zuccarello has the extra goal with 15, where Richards has the extra assist for 25. Keep in mind that Zuccarello has played in one fewer game than Richards, and he’s on a three game points streak with two goals and two assists. Rick Nash continues to lead the team with his 18 goals for a total of 27 points in 39 games. Derick Brassard has quietly moved himself up the chart in points. With one goal and three assists in the last three games, Brassard has tallied nine goals for 30 points this season and puts him in a three-way tie for fourth on the team in total points with Ryan McDonagh and Chris Kreider. Kreider has 13 goals where McDonagh has eight. Also on a three game points streak is Brian Boyle, with one goal and two assist in that span. His season totals are four goals for 13 points, not to shabby for a guy on the fourth line playing a new position on the ice. From the defense side of the team, Marc Staal has had two multi-point games in the last three outings with a goal and three assists combined. He has also blocked six shots and added three hits. On the season, Staal has added three goals for 10 points in his 46 games. He also welcomed a baby girl into the world this morning. The team is performing solidly and needs to keep that up if they want to win tonight.
The Avalanche enter tonight’s contest 36-14-5 with 77 points and are comfortably in the third place of the Central Division. The Avalanche have yet to assign a starting goal tender though with Jean-Sebastien Giguere playing last night, Semyon Valamov seems the likely choice for tonight. Varlamov is 28-9-5 this season with 2.43 goals against average and a .925 save percentage. Paul Stasny and Alex Tanguay are listed as day-to-day with lower body injuries so they are questionable for tonight. Cory Sarich is out indefinitely with back trouble. Matt Duchene leads the Avalanche with 31 assists and 48 points. Gabriel Landeskog is close behind with 16 goals for 44 points. Leading the team in goals is Ryan O’Reilly with 21 for 40 points. Rookie, Nathan MacKinnon has 20 goals on the season for a total of 41 points; he’s third on the team. MacKinnon is on a five game points streak with three goals and five assists in that span, including a three-point game against buffalo over the weekend. The Avalanche are a team who are not bound by their highest point scorers; they can score from any player anywhere on the ice and they WILL put the puck on net every chance they get. Cody McLeod is the weak link on the team in terms of a button to push.With 97 penalties in minutes in his 50 games. His nine points on the season aren’t much but if the Rangers play him right, they could get some power play opportunities. The same applies for Nate Guenin, he won’t hesitate to drop mitts with anyone on the ice. The Avalanche do have a physical aspect to their team with four players over 100 hits. Jan Hejda has 125, Patrick Bordeleau has 112, Gabriel Landeskog with 111, and Jamie McGinn with 109 hits. The Avalanche will also get in front of the puck as needed. The top shot blockers on the team are Jan Hejda with 95 and Guenin with 94, followed by Erik Johnson with 93.
Tonight we get a look at a rookie battle between MacKinnon and Kreider. Both players are looking for the Calder Cup at the end of the season. This is the first meeting between these two teams this season. With both teams looking to extend their winning streak they should both be playing hard. The Rangers need to come out strong in the first and use their fresh legs to wear out the Avalanche who are playing their second game in as many nights.