Hockey seasons are loaded with nights like this, and the Rangers’ season so far has been almost nothing but.
Tests. Barometers. The Minnesota game after the Colorado game was a test. The Florida game after the Tampa Bay game was a test. How would they react? And these Rangers have passed most tests so far.
Tonight is a barometer game, against the Penguins who have figured it out lately, with six straight wins, and against Sid Crosby, your buddy, who has 25 points in a 12-game point streak, and who had the hat trick Saturday, which by the way included his 200th career goal (earlier I incorrectly had it at 300. Ooops). And you know, he kind of has this new rivalry going with Henrik Lundqvist and Brandon Dubinsky.
It’s a barometer, also, because the Rangers beat the Penguins two weeks ago, in that game that had those huge emotional swings at the end — the Rangers blowing a lead, falling behind, tying it on Marc Staal’s short-handed goal and winning it on that beauty of an OT goal, from Dubinsky to Ryan Callahan.
So, well, I’m kinda interested and excited to see how this one plays out. I’m headed to MSG later on, so we’ll do the full monty here at RR. I’m guessing Marian Gaborik will be back from the flu.
Meanwhile, here are the pre-game notes, from the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Monday, Nov. 29, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden • New York, NY
Rangers: 14-10-1 (29 pts)
Penguins: 15-8-2 (32 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Nov. 27
The Rangers will face-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in their fourth game in six nights. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and sixth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 14-10-1 (29 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Nashville Predators, 2-1, in the shootout last night at Bridgestone Arena for their second consecutive win, and are 4-1-0 in their last five games. The Penguins enter the contest with a 15-8-2 (32 pts) record to rank fourth in the Eastern Conference, and have won six straight games since losing, 3-2, in overtime vs. the Rangers on Nov. 15. Following the contest, the Rangers will begin a home-and-home set against the New York Islanders on Thursday, Dec. 2, at Nassau Coliseum (7:00 p.m.), before closing out the set on Friday, Dec. 3, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.).
* TV: MSG Network
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show with Al Trautwig and Brian Leetch
7:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Penguins
Broadcasters: Sam Rosen (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), John Giannone (In-Game Reporter)
* Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game with Don LaGreca
7:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Penguins
Broadcasters: Kenny Albert (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. PENGUINS:
* All-Time: The Rangers are 112-96-23-7 all-time against the Penguins: 63-45-9-2 at home and 49-51-14-5 on the road
* 2010-11: Tonight’s contest marks the second of six meetings between the Rangers and Penguins this season, and the first of three contests at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers own a record of 1-0-0, following a 3-2 overtime win on Nov. 15 at CONSOL Energy Center.
* Last Season: New York was 1-4-1 against the Penguins in 2009-10, including a 0-2-1 mark at Madison Square Garden. Four of their six meetings were decided by two goals or less, including two that required overtime.
* Each of the Rangers last three games vs. the Penguins have gone into overtime, dating back to a 3-2 win on Feb. 12, 2010 at Pittsburgh. The Blueshirts are 2-1-0 over the span.
* New York ranks 21st in the NHL at home with a record of 5-6-1 (11 pts) in 12 games; Pittsburgh has posted a record of 8-3-1 (17 pts) in 12 road games to rank third in the league
* The Rangers have posted a record of 3-2-0 vs. Atlantic Division opponents; the Penguins are 3-2-1 vs. the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist has posted a record of 1-0-0 with a 1.89 goals against average and .949 save percentage in one start against the Penguins this season, and is now 17-12-4 with a 2.41 goals against average and two shutouts in 33 career regular season games vs. Pittsburgh
* Ryan Callahan (one goal, one assist) and Brandon Dubinsky (two assists) have registered a team-high, two points in one game vs. the Penguins in the season series
* Ruslan Fedotenko has recorded 14 assists and 22 points in 33 career regular season appearances vs. the Penguins; Marian Gaborik has registered 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 13 career regular season contests vs. Pittsburgh
* New York lists three former Penguins on their roster: Ruslan Fedotenko (2008-09 – 2009-10); Erik Christensen (2005-06 – 2007-08); Michal Rozsival (1999-00 – 2002-03)
* Pittsburgh lists one former Ranger on their roster: Pascal Dupuis (2006-07)
* Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in four power play opportunities (7:46) on Saturday at Nashville, and have now tallied a power play goal in four of their last five games (4-17, 23.5% over the span). New York ranks 17th in the NHL with a 16.3% (15-92) success rate, and ranks 25th at home with a 14.6% (7-48) success rate. The Rangers notched one goal in one, five-on-three chance (0:30) on Wednesday at Tampa Bay, and are now 1-5 on five-on-three attempts (5:01). 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 Predators scoreless in three shorthanded situations (6:00) on Saturday at Nashville, and are now 41-45 (91.1%) over the last 13 games. New York ranks 18th in the NHL with a 82.6% (81-98) success rate, and are 25th in the league at home with a 81.0% (34-42) 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 (5): 10/9 at BUF (Dubinsky); 11/5 at NJD (Dubinsky); 11/15 at PIT (Staal); 11/24 at TBL (Boyle); 11/26 at FLA (Prust).
* Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in two, four-on-four situations (7:00) on Saturday at Nashville, and are now plus-two in 22, four-on-four situations (35:08) 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 Blueshirts have started games off strong this season, tallying the first goal of the game in 17 of their 25 games and posting a record of 12-4-1 in those contests. The Rangers own a record of 8-1-1 when leading after the first period, having out-scored their opponent, 18-11, 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 sixth of 18 back-to-back sets with a 2-1 shootout win on Saturday at Nashville, improving to 6-0-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season having out-scored their opponent, 18-6, and are 5-0-0 when the second game is on the road. Over the last two seasons, New York is 15-2-2 in the back-end of back-to-back sets, including a 10-1-1 mark away from MSG over the span. The Blueshirts’ next back-to-back set is a home-and-home against the New York Islanders, beginning on Thursday, Dec. 2, at Long Island and concluding on Friday, Dec. 3, at MSG.
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, Montreal and Tampa Bay entering tonight’s action.
The Blueshirts currently lead the NHL with 420 blocked shots on the season, averaging a league-high, 16.8 blocked shots per contest. Dan Girardi leads the NHL with 74 blocked shots, and Ryan Callahan leads all NHL forwards with 34 blocked shots.
A BROADWAY HIT
The Rangers currently rank first in the NHL with 737 hits on the season, and lead the league with an average of 29.5 hits per contest. Ryan Callahan currently ranks second in the NHL with 97 hits.
THE HOT LIST:
* New York has won four of the last five games and are now tied for fifth overall in the NHL in wins (14), sixth in points (29) and seventh in goals (72)
* The Rangers lead the league with nine victories on the road and are tied for third with 37 road goals
* The Blueshirts’ power play has tallied a goal in four of the last five games (4-17, 23.5% over the span)
* The Rangers’ penalty kill has yielded just four goals in their last 13 games, registering a 91.1% success rate (41-45), and have notched four shorthanded goals over the span
* Derek Stepan has registered nine points (three goals, six assists) in the last nine games
* Marc Staal has recorded three assists in the last three games
* Michael Del Zotto has registered three points (one goal, two assists) in the last five games
* Brandon Prust has recorded three points (one goal, two assists) in the last five games, including two shorthanded points (one goal, one assist) over the span
* Dan Girardi has tallied eight points in the last 13 games
* Ryan Callahan has registered 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in his last 20 games
* Brandon Dubinsky has tallied 16 points (nine goals, seven assists) in the last 20 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.
JOHN TORTORELLA REACHES 300 WINS
With a 5-2 win on Nov. 20 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 303-275-37-52 in 667 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 303 career victories.
MILESTONES IN SIGHT:
* Erik Christensen: 1 game from 300 NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
* Ruslan Fedotenko: 700th career NHL game (11/24 at TBL)
* Vinny Prospal (IR on Sept. 24/knee surgery on Oct. 18, 6-8 weeks) – 25
* Chris Drury (IR – fractured finger on Oct. 15, 6 weeks) – 22
* Marian Gaborik (flu) – 1
Total Man-Games Lost: 76
* Nov. 23: Acquired defenseman Stu Bickel from Anaheim in exchange for defenseman Nigel Williams