Rangers travel to Winnipeg to play the Jets, who are in the hunt for the playoffs
Time: 8:00 pm EST
Location: MTS Centre-Winnipeg, Manitoba
With seven games left in the New York Rangers regular schedule, they’ve hit a bump in the road heading into the playoffs. The team has dropped its last two games (Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals) over the weekend, and three of their last four. The combined scores from their last two games were 9-4, where the team was outplayed in Boston. Then, just when you thought the team was getting their flow back by striking first yesterday, they fell face-first against the Capitals, giving up three third-period goals.
But, that’s in the past.
It’s back to work, as the Rangers travel north of the border to take on the Jets. This will be the second and final time the two teams will face each other this season. The Jets won their first game at Madison Square Garden, 1-0 in a shootout. Evander Kane scored the winner. Since then, he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres at the NHL Trade Deadline.
New York Rangers
(47-21-7 with 101 points, first place in the Metropolitan Division, clinched playoff spot)
Stuck on 101 points since their win against the Senators, the Rangers will be looking to add to that stagnant amount. On the road, the team is 24-11-2. In their last 10 games, the Rangers are 6-4.
In their three losses, they’ve averaged just two goals. Also, they have consistently shot themselves in the foot by turning the puck over in those losses: 12 times to the Los Angeles Kings, 10 times to the Bruins, and eight to the Capitals.
In their win against the Ottawa Senators, the Rangers had better puck possession by turning it over six times, while their opponent gave it away 16 times. The team will look to improve in that area, if they want to play their quick transition game.
After going two games without a single power play against the Senators and Bruins, the Rangers received five opportunities this past Sunday. However, they put up a goose egg and are now 2 for 29 on the power play since March 2nd.
New York Rangers
But, all is not bad news. Kevin Hayes has been a bright spot for the Rangers this season. In his past five games, he has registered two goals and six points. The team’s main scorers are beginning to regain their scoring touch. Mats Zuccarello, Derek Stepan, and Chris Kreider are a point-per-game and leading the top six forwards during this stretch.
(39-25-12 with 90 points, fifth place in the Central Division, currently hold second Wild Card spot in Western Conference)
The Jets enter the contest with a 21-12-5 at the MTS Centre. It’s going to be a difficult task to beat them on home ice, when you add in the Winnipeg fans. Just like with the Seattle Seahawks’ 12th Man, Jets fans will be a factor for the home team.
Rangers will need to prepare themselves for a loud and ruckus affair, especially with the added pressure from the the media as the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference and contend for the Stanley Cup, if not win it.
Since the last time the Jets saw the Rangers in November, the Jets have undergone changes to their lineup. They traded away troubled forward Evander Kane and defenseman Zach Bogosian. In their place, they brought in Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford from the Buffalo Sabres.
And they have been two of the main reasons why the Jets occupy a playoff spot. Stafford has 17 points in 20 games with the Jets, along with a nine-game point streak since March 12th. Myers has 13 points in 19 games, with three points in his last four games.
Former Ranger Lee Stempniak will get to face his old team. Since being traded on March 2nd, he has two goals and five points in 12 games with the Jets.
The Rangers are expected to go with Henrik Lundqvist tonight. This will be the second game for the King, since his injury in February. His previous start was a 4-2 loss to the Bruins last Saturday. Lundqvist stopped 26 of 30 shots faced, where the team did not offer much support in the way they played. Despite three early goals on 14 shots in the first period, he looked to have settled in by stopping 15 of 16 Bruins shots for the remainder of the game.
Tonight, Lundqvist looks to get more support from his team mates and continue where he left off in Boston. He was on the ice for the last time the Jets faced the Rangers in January. In that game, he stopped all 25 shots faced in regulation and overtime. However, he was the losing goalie in a 1-0 shootout loss.
Winnipeg has been using a two-goalie system, based on the amount of games each has played. Fans could expect to see Ondrej Pavelec tonight, as the team is fighting to hang onto a playoff spot. In 45 games this season, he is 19-15-7 with a 2.39 GAA. Also, he was in net against the Rangers in January, where he stopped all 38 shots faced during regulation and overtime. In his past five games, he is 4-1 while giving up 1.40 goals per game and has one shutout.
The Jets other option could be backup Michael Hutchinson. In 37 games this season, 20-10-7 with a 2.43 GAA. He his 1-3 in his past five games, along with a relief appearance in which he gave up three even-strength goals.
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