Rangers host Blackhawks on Rivalry Wednesday
Time: 7:00 pm EST
Location: Madison Square Garden-New York, NY
The Rangers meet up for an Original Six matchup when they take on the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. The Blueshirts are currently five points ahead of the New York Islanders in the Metropolitan Division standings. They are riding a four-game win streak, after their win on Sunday night against the Florida Panthers. Tonight will be a rematch between the two teams. Back on March 8th, the Rangers won a hard-fought 1-0 overtime victory at the United Center in Chicago. The game-winning goal came off the stick of Derick Brassard, who let loose a slapshot that beat Corey Crawford‘s five-hole. In what could be a potential Stanley Cup Final preview, the Blackhawks will have revenge on their mind at puck drop.
New York Rangers: 44-17-7 with 95 points, first place in the Metropolitan Division
It is impressive how the team has been able to keep winning, despite their franchise goalie (Henrik Lundqvist) being injured for the past month. Instead of panicking and wilting away their playoff chances, the team has remained resilient. And despite the lack of scoring lately from their leading goal scorer, Rick Nash, the Rangers have received contributions from their depth players. They have secondary scoring making up for the absence. And when that is not working, the team is finding other ways to win, such as winning one-goal games. They can play a defensive style that is merciless against opponents. And it’s not just the defensemen, it is the forwards, namely Nash, coming back to help to cause turnovers. That is when you see the team at their most dangerous. They transition up ice quickly, utilizing their speed to scoring opportunities.
Chicago Blackhawks: 42-21-6 with 90 points, third place in the Central Division
The Blackhawks are on their winning streak of three games. After losing to the Rangers on March 8th, the team rallied to win two games on the road (San Jose Sharks, Arizona Coyotes), and played host to the Islanders, which they won 4-1. In their past eight games, the Blackhawks are 6-2 dating back to February 26th. Despite being without their leading point-scorer in Patrick Kane, they are enduring. The captain, Jonathan Toews, is coming off a brilliant game last night as he registered two goals and two assists. He had a hand in all of the Blackhawks goals, finishing +4 for the night.
For the Rangers, Talbot is expected to start in net. What more is there to say? He’s been superb, subbing for Lundqvist. He is proving that last year was no fluke, which was his mission statement at the beginning of the season. Through his and Mackenzie Skapski‘s efforts, the team is at the top of the division and sitting comfortably for the King to return. In the last game against the Blackhawks, Talbot faced 29 shots for his fifth shutout of the season, tying him with Lundqvist for the team lead.
The Blackhawks may counter with Corey Crawford. He is 29-14-5 with a goals against average of 2.18, and a save percentage of .926. In past five games started, he is 4-0-1. The overtime loss came at the hands of the Rangers. He has allowed one goal in each contest, but only one other power play goal in his starts. If the Blackhawks ever needed their goalie to heat up, now is the time leading into the playoffs.
However, do not be surprised if the Blackhawks call upon their backup, Scott Darling. The team played on Long island last night and head coach Joel Quinneville could elect to put him in net. If so, Darling is 6-3-0 with a 2.18 GAA, and .930 save percentage.
The Rangers will be without the some key personnel tonight. Forward Martin St. Louis may be out 10-14 days due to lower body injury, suffered last game. Defenseman Kevin Klein is still out from a Alex Oveckin slap shot to the arm on back on March 11th, and is expected to be out till April. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is still out due to his vascular injury but may return next week, after being cleared by team doctors.
The Blackhawks will be without forward Patrick Kane, who suffered a left clavicle fracture in a game on February 24th. He was placed on LTIR for the remainder of the regular season, and possible playoffs, after successful surgery to repair the injury.
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