Before we get to the game … I kind of kept silent about the Marc Staal hit the other night, because I am kind of in the middle about it. I thought the hit was perfectly clean and legal. I thought Staal even got down low and came up to deliver the blow to the chest. The NHL agreed with me.
But where I have a problem is this blind-side, east-west language in the rules. Why the heck is any blow to the head allowed? I am not sure Staal hit the guy in the head, but it sure seems that he did on the shoulder-to-chest follow through. Otherwise, how did the concussion occur?
Which brings me to my major problem. When the hell will the league and the players union get serious about head injuries and get rid of the flimsy helmets and ESPECIALLY make guys wear chinstraps that, you know, fit their chins.
It has been the macho practice forever for that stupid helmet strap to hang down by the neck, nowhere near the chin. So the helmet pops right off. It might be the dumbest thing in a league, and by a union, just loaded with dumb things.
Now onto the game.
Steve Stamkos=monster. Also, don’t forget, Stamkos=childhood friend of Michael Del Zotto.
Oh, and congrats to Torts, who got his 300th win the other night. Must have been nice to get it in that type of game, since he’s big on his team playing that way and creating that identity.
Here are tonight’s pre-game notes, from the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS at TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Wednesday, Nov. 24, 7:30 p.m.
St. Pete Times Forum • Tampa, FL
Rangers: 12-9-1 (25 pts)
Lightning: 12-7-2 (26 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Nov. 22
The Rangers will begin a three-game road trip when they face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum (7:30 p.m.). The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and sixth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 12-9-1 (25 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Calgary Flames, 2-1, on Monday at Madison Square Garden for their second consecutive win, and are now 5-2-0 in their last seven games. The Lightning enter the contest with a 12-7-2 (26 pts) record to rank fourth in the Eastern Conference, and have won four straight games. Following the contest, the Rangers will continue their three-game road trip when they face-off against the Florida Panthers on Friday, Nov. 26, at the BankAtlantic Center (7:30 p.m.), in the first game of a back-to-back set.
- TV: MSG 2
7:00 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show with Bill Pidto and Ron Duguay
7:30 p.m. – Rangers at Lightning
Broadcasters: Sam Rosen (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), John Giannone (In-Game Reporter)
- Radio: 970 The Apple
7:00 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game with Don LaGreca
7:30 p.m. – Rangers at Lightning
Broadcasters: Joe Tolleson (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. LIGHTNING:
- All-Time: The Rangers are 37-27-5-3 all-time against the Lightning: 21-12-2-2 at home and 16-15-3-1 on the road
- 2010-11: Tonight’s contest marks the first of four meetings between the Rangers and Lightning this season, and the first of two at the St. Pete Times Forum
- Last Season: New York was 3-1-0 against the Lightning in 2009-10, including a 1-1-0 mark at Tampa Bay. The Rangers out-scored the Lightning, 19-9, in the season series, including a season-high, eight goals, in an 8-2 win on Jan. 19 at MSG.
- The Blueshirts’ power play tallied three goals in 14 opportunities (21.4%) in four games last season
- New York ranks fifth in the NHL on the road with a record of 7-3-0 (14 pts) in 10 games; Tampa Bay has posted a record of 5-2-1 (11 pts) at home to rank 16th in the league
- The Rangers have posted a record of 0-3-0 vs. Southeast Division opponents; the Lightning are 4-1-1 against the Atlantic Division
- Henrik Lundqvist posted a record of 3-1-0 with a 2.26 goals against average, .923 save percentage and one shutout in four games vs. Tampa Bay last season, and is 13-5-2 with a 1.93 goals against average and two shutouts in 20 career regular season games against the Lightning
- Marc Staal (two goals, three assists) and Marian Gaborik (five assists) tied for the team-lead with five points vs. the Lightning last season; Gaborik’s five assists were also a team-high
- Marian Gaborik has registered 11 points (six goals, five assists) in nine career regular season contests vs. Tampa Bay
- New York lists three former Lightning on their roster: Steve Eminger (2008-09); Ruslan Fedotenko (2002-03 – 2006-07); Vinny Prospal (2001-02 – 2002-03, 2005-06 – 2007-08, 2008-09)
- Tampa Bay lists one former Ranger on their roster: Dominic Moore (2003-04 – 2005-06)
- Rangers’ Head Coach John Tortorella served as Lightning Head Coach from 2000-01 to 2007-08, posting a record of 239-222-36-38 in 535 games while guiding Tampa Bay to four straight Stanley Cup Playoff appearances, two Southeast Division Championships (2002-03, 2003-04) and the franchise’s only Stanley Cup Championship in 2003-04
- Power Play: The Rangers notched one goal in two power play opportunities (2:14) on Monday vs. Calgary. New York ranks 18th in the NHL with a 15.8% (13-82) success rate, and ranks 12th on the road with a 17.6% (6-34) success rate. The Rangers did not convert on one, five-on-three chance (1:44) on Nov. 17 vs. the Bruins, and are now 0-4 on five-on-three attempts (4:31). New York is 0-1 (1:05) with a four-on-three advantage this season. Shorthanded goals allowed (1): 11/20 at MIN (Cullen).
- Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts held the Flames scoreless in two shorthanded situations (4:00) on Monday at MSG, and are now 30-31 (96.8%) over the last 10 games. New York ranks 12th in the NHL with a 83.3% (70-84) success rate, and are eighth in the league on the road with a 85.7% (36-42) success rate. The Rangers held the Maple Leafs scoreless in one, three-on-five situation (0:31) on Oct. 30 at Toronto, and are 4-6 on three-on-fives (5:08) this season. The Blueshirts held the Penguins scoreless in one, three-on-four situation on Nov. 15 at Pittsburgh, and are now 4-6 (2:41) in those situations this season. Shorthanded goals for (3): 10/9 at BUF (Dubinsky); 11/5 at NJD (Dubinsky); 11/15 at PIT (Staal).
- Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in one, four-on-four situation (2:00), on Monday vs. Calgary, and are now plus-two in 20, four-on-four situations (28:08) this season. Four-on-four goals for (3): 10/18 vs. COL (Frolov); 11/11 vs. BUF (Anisimov); 11/15 at PIT (Callahan). Four-on-four goals allowed (1): 10/15 vs. TOR (Kessel).
The Rangers penalty kill has held opponents scoreless in each of their last seven games (21-21), and have successfully killed their last 24 power plays against dating back to Nov. 9 vs. Washington. The Rangers have now registered a 96.8% (30-31) success rate on the penalty kill in the last 10 games, allowing just one goal and tallying two shorthanded goals during the stretch.
The Blueshirts have started games off strong this season, tallying the first goal of the game in 16 of their 22 games and posting a record of 11-4-1 in those contests. The Rangers own a record of 7-1-1 when leading after the first period, having out-scored their opponent, 17-8, in the opening frame. Brandon Dubinsky leads the team with four, first period goals on the season, followed by Brian Boyle with three goals.
The Rangers completed their fifth of 18 back-to-back sets with a 5-2 win on Saturday at Minnesota, improving to 5-0-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season having out-scored their opponent, 16-5, and are 4-0-0 when the second game is on the road. Over the last two seasons, New York is 14-2-2 in the back-end of back-to-back sets, including a 9-1-1 mark away from MSG over the span. The Blueshirts’ next back-to-back set will begin Friday, Nov. 26, at Florida and conclude on Saturday, Nov. 27, at Nashville.
JOHN TORTORELLA REACHES 300 WINS
With Saturday’s 5-2 win at Minnesota, Rangers Head Coach John Tortorella recorded his 300th career NHL victory to become the 40th head coach in league history to reach the mark. Tortorella has posted a record of 301-274-37-52 in 664 regular season games over 11 seasons with the Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, and is tied for 11th among active NHL head coaches on the NHL’s all-time wins list and ranks first among U.S.-born coaches with 301 career victories.
The Rangers have had nine different players credited with at least one game winning goal this season, which is tied for second most in the league. New York trails Washington (10) by one, and is tied with Detroit and Montreal entering tonight’s action.
The Blueshirts currently lead the NHL with 376 blocked shots on the season, averaging a league-high, 17.1 blocked shots per contest. Dan Girardi ranks first in the NHL with 68 blocked shots, and Ryan Callahan leads all NHL forwards with 30 blocked shots.
A BROADWAY HIT
The Rangers currently rank first in the NHL with 656 hits on the season, and lead the league with an average of 29.8 hits per contest. Ryan Callahan currently leads all NHL skaters with 91 hits.
THE HOT LIST:
- The Rangers’ penalty kill has yielded just one goal in their last 10 games, registering a 96.8% success rate (30-31) over the span, and have successfully killed off each of their last 24 power plays against dating back to Nov. 9 vs. Washington
- Marian Gaborik has notched seven points in the last six games, including four goals during the stretch
- Derek Stepan has recorded six points in the last six games, with five assists over the span
- Dan Girardi has tallied eight points in the last 10 games, including seven assists during the stretch
- Ruslan Fedotenko has registered six points (three goals, three assists) in the last seven games
- Matt Gilroy has recorded three assists and a plus-six rating in the last six games
- Ryan Callahan has registered 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in his last 17 games
- Brandon Dubinsky has tallied 15 points (nine goals, six assists) in the last 17 games
YOUTH IS SERVED
Based on opening day rosters, the Rangers have the ninth youngest team in the NHL with an average age of 27 years and 44 days, and the second youngest defensive corp in the league, trailing only Los Angeles with an average age of 25 years and 51 days.
MILESTONES IN SIGHT:
- Ruslan Fedotenko: 1 game from 700 NHL career
- Erik Christensen: 4 games from 300 NHL career
- Dan Girardi: 7 points from 100 NHL career
- Alex Frolov: 8 points from 400 NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
- Michael Del Zotto: 100th career NHL game (11/19 at COL)
- Dan Girardi: 300th career NHL game (11/19 at COL)
- John Tortorella: 300th career NHL win (11/20 at MIN)
- Vinny Prospal (IR on Sept. 24/knee surgery on Oct. 18, 6-8 weeks) – 22
- Chris Drury (IR – fractured finger on Oct. 15, 6 weeks) – 19
- Michal Rozsival (shoulder strain, 7-10 days) – 7
Total Man-Games Lost: 67
- Nov. 23: Acquired defenseman Stu Bickel from Anaheim in exchange for defenseman Nigel Williams