As we’ve been saying, this starts a very difficult, very telling week for the Rangers. I’ll be headed to the Garden in a little while.
Here are tonight’s pre-game notes, from the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. WASHINGTON CAPITALS
Sunday, Dec. 12, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden • New York, NY
Rangers: 17-13-1 (35 pts)
Capitals: 18-10-3 (39 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Dec. 11
The Rangers will conclude their eighth back-to-back set of the season against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.). The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and seventh in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 17-13-1 (35 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having been defeated by the Blue Jackets, 3-1, Saturday at Columbus, and are now 7-4-0 in their last 11 games. The Capitals enter the contest with a 18-10-3 (39 pts) record to rank second in the Eastern Conference, and have lost each of their last five games (0-4-1). Following the contest, the Rangers will begin their ninth back-to-back set of the season when they face-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at CONSOL Energy Center (7:00 p.m.), before returning home to host the Phoenix Coyotes at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Dec. 16 (7:00 p.m.).
• TV: MSG Network
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show with Al Trautwig and Mike Keenan
7:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Capitals
Broadcasters: John Giannone (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), Al Trautwig and Mike Keenan (In-Game Reporters)
• Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game with Bob Galerstein
7:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Capitals
Broadcasters: Joe Tolleson (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. CAPITALS:
• All-Time: The Rangers are 80-84-18-5 all-time against the Capitals: 45-37-9-2 at home and 35-47-9-3 on the road
• 2010-11: Tonight’s contest marks the second of four meetings between the Rangers and Capitals this season, and the second and final meeting at MSG. The Rangers own a 0-1-0 record thus far, following a 5-3 loss at home on Nov. 9. Brian Boyle leads the Rangers with two goals in the season series.
• Last Season: New York was 1-3-0 against Washington in 2009-10, including a 0-2-0 mark at MSG. Each of the four meetings were decided by two goals or less, including two games decided by one goal. The Rangers notched six goals in 17 power play opportunities (35.3%) in the season series, which were the most by the Blueshirts against any team last season.
• The Blueshirts are tied for 25th in the NHL at home with a record of 6-8-1 (13 pts) in 15 games; the Capitals have posted a record of 6-6-1 (13 pts) on the road and are tied for 19th in the league
• The Rangers have posted a record of 1-4-0 vs. Southeast Division opponents; the Capitals are 4-1-1 vs. the Atlantic Division
• Henrik Lundqvist has posted a record of 9-6-2 with a 3.06 goals against average and one shutout in 17 career games against the Capitals; Martin Biron is 10-8-1-2 with a 2.58 goals against average and one shutout in 21 career appearances vs. Washington
• Alex Frolov has registered 10 points (four goals, six assists) in nine career regular season contests vs. Washington; Sean Avery has recorded nine points (five goals, four assists) in 11 career games vs. the Capitals
• New York lists one former Capital on their roster: Steve Eminger (2002-03 – 2007-08)
• Washington lists two former Rangers on their roster: Mike Knuble (1998-99 – 1999-00); Tom Poti (2001-02 – 2005-06)
• Power Play: The Rangers notched one goal in five power play opportunities (8:16) last night at Columbus, and have now tallied a power play goal in eight of their last 11 games (8-40, 20.0% over the span). New York ranks 15th in the NHL with a 16.5% (19-115) success rate, and ranks 28th at home with a 13.3% (8-60) success rate. The Rangers notched one goal in one, five-on-three chance (0:30) on Nov. 24 at Tampa Bay, and are now 1-5 on five-on-three attempts (5:01). New York is 0-2 (2:23) with a four-on-three advantage this season. Shorthanded goals allowed (2): 11/20 at MIN (Cullen); 12/5 vs. OTT (Kelly).
• Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts yielded one goal to the Blue Jackets in two shorthanded situations (3:02) last night at Columbus, and are now 49-56 (87.5%) over the last 19 games. New York ranks 17th in the NHL with a 81.6% (89-109) success rate, and rank 22nd in the league at home with a 82.6% (38-46) 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 (6): 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); 12/5 vs. OTT (Prust).
• Four-on-Four: New York did not skate in a four-on-four situation last night at Columbus, and are now plus-two in 23, four-on-four situations (37:08) 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).
Since 2005-06, the Rangers have posted a record of 7-3-1 vs. the Capitals in 11 regular season meetings at Madison Square Garden, tallying 3.7 goals per contest during the stretch. The Blueshirts’ power play has notched 14 goals in 56 opportunities for a 25.0% success rate in those games.
BUSY DAY AT MSG
The Rangers and Knicks have played on the same day at the current Madison Square Garden on 35 occasions, with the Rangers posting a record of 15-15-6 (1-1-0 in 2010-11) and the Knicks registering a 21-15 (0-2 in 2010-11) mark in those games. Today is the third and final occasion the Rangers and Knicks are scheduled to play at MSG on the same day this season, having previously done so on Nov. 7 (NYR vs. STL, NYK vs. PHI) and Dec. 12 (NYR vs. WSH, NYK vs. DEN).
Tonight’s contest will conclude the Rangers’ eighth of 18 back-to-back sets this season. New York has posted a record of 7-0-0 in the second game of back-to-backs this season following a 2-0 win on Dec. 3 vs. the Islanders, having out-scored their opponent, 20-6, and are 2-0-0 when the second game is at home. Over the last two seasons, New York is 16-2-2 in the second game of back-to-back sets, including a 6-1-1 mark at MSG over the span.
The Blueshirts have started games off strong this season, tallying the first goal of the game in 20 of their 31 games and posting a record of 14-5-1 in those contests. The Rangers own a record of 9-1-1 when leading after the first period, having out-scored their opponent, 21-13, in the opening frame. Brandon Dubinsky leads the team with four, first period goals, followed by Brian Boyle with three goals.
The Rangers have had 11 different players credited with at least one game winning goal this season, which is tied with Tampa Bay and Washington for the most in the NHL.
The Blueshirts currently rank second in the NHL with 503 blocked shots on the season, averaging 16.2 blocked shots per contest to rank second in the league. Dan Girardi leads the NHL with 86 blocked shots, and Ryan Callahan leads all NHL forwards with 39 blocked shots.
A BROADWAY HIT
The Rangers currently rank first in the NHL with 919 hits on the season, and lead the league with an average of 29.6 hits per contest. Ryan Callahan currently ranks second in the NHL with 122 hits.
THE HOT LIST:
• New York has won seven of their last 11 games and is now tied for sixth overall in the NHL in wins (17), eighth in points (35) and ninth in goals (88)
• Henrik Lundqvist is 5-3-0 with a 1.85 goals against average, a .929 save percentage and two shutouts in his last eight games
• Marian Gaborik has tallied 15 points (eight goals, seven assists) in his last 14 games
• Derek Stepan has registered 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in the last 15 games
• Marc Staal has recorded six points (two goals, four assists) in the last nine games
• Brandon Dubinsky has registered six points (one goal, five assists) in the last seven games
• Sean Avery has tallied four assists in the last five games
WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP HOPEFULS
Blueshirts’ prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque have been invited to USA Hockey’s evaluation camp for the 2011 World Junior Championship in Buffalo, New York. This would be the second trip to the elite tournament for both Kreider and Bourque, if selected, having both represented the gold medal-winning Team USA at the 2010 World Junior Championship. Roman Horak has also been invited to attend the Czech Republic’s evaluation camp, while Jesper Fasth is on Team Sweden’s preliminary roster. If selected, this would be Horak’s second appearance at the World Junior Championship, having represented his native country in last year’s tournament. Fasth is looking to make his first appearance in the elite tournament.
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.
• Marian Gaborik: 4 games from 600 NHL career
• Dan Girardi: 6 points from 100 NHL career
• Alex Frolov: 8 points from 400 NHL career
• Brandon Dubinsky: 10 assists from 100 NHL career
• Vinny Prospal (IR on Sept. 24/knee surgery on Oct. 18, 6-8 weeks) – 31
• Chris Drury (IR – fractured finger on Oct. 15, 6 weeks) – 28
Total Man-Games Lost: 91