New York Rangers (36-28-4, tied for 3rd in the Metropolitan Division) versus San José Sharks (44-17-7, 2nd in the Pacific Division)
Puck Drop: Sunday, March 16 at 4:00 pm
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
Coming off their win in Long Island against the Islanders on Friday, the Sharks roll into Manhattan to face the New York Rangers. Riding a five game winning streak, they look to extend that in Madison Square Garden. Entering today’s game, the Sharks are in second place behind the Anaheim Ducks for the lead in the Pacific Division with 95 points, while maintaining an impressive 43-17-7 overall record. Currently, they are in the running for the President’s trophy, four points behind the St. Louis Blues for the most points in the NHL. In their last 10 games, the Sharks are 8-1-1, and 2-0 on their current three game road trip.
Leading the way, centerman Joe Thornton is riding a nine points in nine games streak, since the Olympic Break. He is second on the team in scoring; contributing 10 goals and 55 assists. Joe Pavelski, also a centerman, currently leads the Sharks in scoring with 34 goals and 32 assists. Forward Matt Nieto has his own point streak going, putting up three goals and two assists in four games. Also, right wing Marty Havlat has four points in four games, three of which have been goals. The always dangerous Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau will be present and must be accounted for by the Rangers’ defense.
The Sharks’ blueline showcases stars Jason Demers and the veteran Dan Boyle. They have combined for 12 goals and 44 assists in 62 regular season games this season. Marc-Edouard Vlasic leads the team in +/- with a rating of + 30 differential. It is expected Antti Niemi will be in net this afternoon. In 53 games played this season, he has a 33-13-6 record, with 2.37 goals against average, and three shutouts. As a result, he is among the candidates for this year’s Vezina Trophy.
Unfortunately, San José does have two injuries on their roster. Thomas Hertl, who put up four goals against the New York Rangers en route to a 9-2 blowout in San José last October, will be out with an injured knee. Also, defenseman Brad Stuart will be out of the lineup with an upper body injury.
This will be another test for the Rangers. The Sharks are a tough, sound team. They have depth on all four lines and their defense is stout. They will take advantage of any errors committed by the offense. Can the Rangers exact revenge on the club that drummed them early this season?
Just to get you revved up, here is a little blast from the past. Here’s Joe Thornton in a post game interview in 2011 after a loss to the Rangers:
A Rangers fan never forgets, Joe.