Dec 5, 2013; Buffalo, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal (18) checks Buffalo Sabres right wing Drew Stafford (21) off the puck during the second period at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

New York Rangers vs Buffalo Sabres: The Good Guys

Tonight is the final home game of the regular season for the New York Rangers. The Buffalo Sabres are in town looking to wreak havoc on the Rangers’ going into the post season. A Sabres win could prevent the Rangers from having home ice advantage and drop the Rangers to a wild card spot in the most extreme situation.
Puck drop is scheduled for 7:00pm with “the shirts off our backs” event after the game.

The Rangers enter tonight in second place of the Metropolitan Division with a 44-31-5 record and 93 points. The Rangers have a two point lead over the Flyers, who have a game in hand still, as well as the Columbus Blue Jackets who are even in games. Henrik Lundqvist gets the start in net tonight. He is 32-24-5 on the season with five shutouts. He boasts a 2.39 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Lundqvist is in playoff mode and it’s his best hockey of this season. Mats Zuccarello leads the team in points with 19 goals for 58 points. He’s looking for his first 20 goal season in his first full NHL season. In order to get there he’s been he hot hands for the team having registered eight points, including four goals, in the last five games. Derek Stepan is close behind with 17 goals for 56 points. Brad Richards had cooled off a bit but drilled two power play goals in the Rangers last game against the Carolina Hurricanes to give him 20 goals for 51 points on the season. Benoit Pouliot has 14 goals for 35 points this season but he is also on a six game six point streak. His line-mate Derick Brassard has cooled of slightly with only three points in the last five games for a season total 18 goals for 44 points. Martin St. Louis posted three assists against the Hurricanes bringing his totals with the Rangers up to six assists for seven points in 18 games. He seems to be hitting his stride, finally, at the right time.

Dan Girardi remains paired with John Moore while Ryan McDonagh is out with his shoulder injury. Girardi leads the team with 190 hits and 170 blocks. In the last three games J Moore has registered six hits and two blocked shots; a considerable number given his season numbers are 56 hits and 54 blocks.

Jesper Fast is in the line-up again tonight while Chris Kreider continues to heal from hand surgery.

The key for the New York Rangers tonight is to take advantage of the inexperienced goal tender, Matt Hackett, the Buffalo Sabres are forced to play tonight. The win is much needed to preserve the seeding for the Rangers.

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Tags: Brad Richards Henrik Lundqvist Martin St. Louis Mats Zuccarello New York Rangers Sabres

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