The New York Rangers take on the Carolina Hurricanes in the first game of a nine game stretch which takes them back to Madison Square Garden only twice. The puck drops at 7:00pm.
The Rangers have a 33-26-4 record with 70 points; a full two points behind the Philadelphia Flyers now. Henrik Lundqvist gets the start in net tonight. Lundqvist has slipped to a .914 save percentage and has edged up to a 2.54 goals against average, but three shut outs is still a strong total for the season. Brad Richards now leads the team in points with 16 goals for 44 points. Mats Zuccarello is a game time decision and is looking to regain his place at the top of the points list; he’s one goal behind. Though he hasn’t posted a point in the last two games, Derick Brassard has 10 points in the last 10 games for a season total 13 goals and 36 points. Derek Stepan has managed to increase his points total to 10 goals for 40 points by tallying five points in the last four games. Before joining the Rangers, Martin St. Louis registered 29 goals for 61 points. Once he gets his bearings with the Rangers, look for him to register some major offensive contributions. Defensively, Dan Girardi is our top player with 154 hits and 131 blocked shots. Ryan McDonagh has 106 blocks but only 75 hits. Kevin Klein has nine hits and 18 blocks in his 11 games with the Rangers.
With a game in hand over most of the Metropolitan Division, the Carolina Hurricanes are in seventh place with 63 points from a 27-26-9 record. The Hurricanes have given Anton Khudobin the task of dueling with Lundqvist tonight. Khudobin is 8-0-3 this season with a 2.16 goals against average and a .928 save percentage. Captain, Eric Staal, leads his team with 32 assists and 48 total points. He is a power play asset. Jeff Skinner leads the team with 23 goals for 40 points. Jordan Staal has added his 11 goals for 27 points to the stat sheet while the youngest of the Staal brothers, Jared, has spent the season in the AHL. Jordan is also the heavy hitter with 141 hits; second to Tuomo Ruutu’s 168 hits. Andrej Sekera has 11 goals for 38 points but he’s also registered 101 blocks this season. Jiri Tlusty is not a stats player, but he has been very strong away from the puck recently. Justin Faulk, the Olympian, is also a strong player for the Hurricanes’ defense, but is out with an upper body injury.
Tonight we may get our first look at Raphael Diaz; no word on the line-up. We will also see a Staal family reunion, less one brother, on the ice tonight. This will be an interesting game as the Hurricanes have just returned from a trip through California.