Here are the pre-game notes from the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Thursday, Dec. 23, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden • New York, NY
Rangers: 20-14-1 (41 pts)
Lightning: 19-10-4 (42 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Dec. 21
The Rangers will face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning 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 20-14-1 (41 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having been defeated by the Philadelphia Flyers, 4-1, on Saturday at Wells Fargo Center, and are now 13-7-0 in their last 20 games. New York has won six of their last nine games at MSG (6-3-0). The Lightning currently rank sixth in the Eastern Conference with a 19-10-4 (42 pts) record entering their contest last night at Long Island, and had won each of their last four games. Following the contest, the Rangers will return to action when they face-off against the New York Islanders on Monday, Dec. 27, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.).
- TV: MSG Network
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show with Al Trautwig
7:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Lightning
Broadcasters: Sam Rosen (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), John Giannone (In-Game Reporter)
- Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show with Don LaGreca
7:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Lightning
Broadcasters: Kenny Albert (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. LIGHTNING:
- All-Time: 37-28-5-3 overall (21-12-2-2 at home, 16-16-3-1 on the road)
- 2010-11: Tomorrow’s contest marks the second of four meetings this season, and the first at MSG. New York is 0-1-0 thus far, following a 5-3 loss at Tampa Bay on Nov. 24.
- Last Season: The Rangers were 3-1-0 overall and 2-0-0 at MSG. 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.
- New York ranks 23rd with a 8-8-1 (17 pts) record at home; Tampa Bay ranks eighth with a 9-8-2 (20 pts) mark on the road
- The Rangers are 2-4-0 vs. the Southeast Division; the Lightning are 5-1-1 against the Atlantic Division
- Henrik Lundqvist is 13-6-2 with a 2.08 goals against average and two shutouts in 21 career games vs. Tampa Bay; Martin Biron is 10-7-2-0 with a 2.66 goals against average in 19 career contests vs. the Lightning
- Chris Drury has recorded a team-high 12 goals and 20 points in 30 career games vs. Tampa Bay; Michal Rozsival leads the Rangers with 13 assists in 31 career contests vs. the Lightning
- 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 two former Rangers on their roster: Adam Hall (2006-07); 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
The Blueshirts have posted a plus-five rating on special teams (PPG+SHG minus PPGA+SHGA) this season, which is tied for ninth in the league.
- Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in four power play opportunities (6:00) on Saturday at Philadelphia, and have now registered a goal on the man advantage in seven of the last nine games (7-35, 20.0% over the span). New York ranks 17th overall (22-130, 16.9%) and 27th at home (10-68, 14.7%). The Rangers are 1-5 (5:01) in five-on-three situations (last – 11/24 at TBL), and 0-2 (2:23) when four-on-three (last – 12/3 vs. NYI). Shorthanded goals allowed (2): 11/20 at MIN (Cullen); 12/5 vs. OTT (Kelly).
- Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts surrendered one goal in four shorthanded situations (5:24) on Saturday at Philadelphia, and are now 61-71 (85.9%) over the last 23 games. New York ranks 16th overall (101-124, 81.5%) and is tied for 21st at home (44-54, 81.5%). The Rangers are 4-6 (5:08) in three-on-five situations (last – 10/30 at TOR), and 4-6 (2:41) when three-on-four (last – 11/15 at PIT). Shorthanded goals for (8): 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); 12/12 vs. WSH (Staal); 12/16 vs. PHX (Prust).
- Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in one, four-on-four situation (0:53) on Saturday at Philadelphia, and are now plus-three in 27, four-on-four situations (46:15). Four-on-four goals for (4): 10/18 vs. COL (Frolov); 11/11 vs. BUF (Anisimov); 11/15 at PIT (Callahan); 12/12 vs. WSH (Callahan). Four-on-four goals allowed (1): 10/15 vs. TOR (Kessel).
New York won back-to-back games on Dec. 15 at Pittsburgh (4-1) and Dec. 16 vs. Phoenix (4-3, SO), despite trailing by a goal entering the third period. The last time the Rangers won consecutive games when trailing after two periods was during the 2008-09 season, on Nov. 15 vs. Boston (3-2) and Nov. 17 vs. Ottawa (2-1). Both games required the shootout. The Blueshirts have never won three consecutive games when trailing after the second period.
The Rangers registered their 20th win of the season with a 4-3 shootout win vs. Phoenix on Dec. 16, reaching the mark in just 34 games which is tied for 12th fastest in franchise history (full list below).
- 28 (1993-94)
- 29 (1971-72)
- 30 (1941-42)
- 31 (1939-40, 1970-71)
- 32 (2005-06)
- 33 (1938-39, 1972-73, 1991-92, 1995-96, 2008-09)
- 34 (1937-38, 2010-11)
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
Compared to last season, the Blueshirts have shown a four wins, six points improvement (three wins, four points on the road), having tallied nine more goals (including a five-goal improvement while shorthanded) while allowing 10 fewer goals against through 35 games.
The Rangers completed their ninth of 18 back-to-back sets with a 4-3 shootout win vs. Phoenix on Dec. 16. The Blueshirts improved to 9-0-0 (4-0-0 at home, 5-0-0 on the road) in the second game of back-to-backs this season, having out-scored their opponent, 31-9, in those games. Over the last two seasons, New York is 18-2-2 in the back-end of back-to-back sets, including a 8-1-1 mark at MSG and 10-1-1 on the road over the span.
The Blueshirts have started games off strong this season, tallying the first goal of the game in 21 of their 35 games and posting a record of 15-5-1 in those contests. The Rangers own a record of 10-1-1 when leading after the first period, having out-scored their opponent, 23-17, in the opening frame.
The Rangers have had 12 different players credited with at least one game winning goal this season which is tied for second in the NHL, trailing Washington by one and tied with Atlanta.
LITTLE THINGS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
The Rangers currently lead the NHL with 1,010 hits and rank third with 571 blocked shots. Ryan Callahan ranked second in the league with 128 hits and led all NHL forwards with 40 blocked shots prior to his injury on Dec. 15, while Dan Girardi currently leads the league with 102 blocked shots and Brian Boyle ranks 13th in the NHL with 97 hits.
THE HOT LIST:
- The Rangers lead the league in shorthanded goals (eight), are tied for fourth in wins (20), 10th in points (41), seventh in goals (104), and rank seventh with a plus-14 goal differential
- Henrik Lundqvist is 7-4-0 with a 1.80 goals against average, a .936 save percentage and three shutouts in his last 11 games
- Marc Staal has registered 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in the last 13 games, including five points (two goals, three assists) in the last five contests
- Dan Girardi has recorded five points (one goal, four assists) in the last four games
- Alex Frolov has registered four points (one goal, three assists) in the last four games
- Brandon Dubinsky has registered seven points (two goals, five assists) in the last nine games
- Brian Boyle has registered six points (two goals, four assists) in the last eight games
- Brandon Prust has tallied six points (four goals, two assists) in the last nine games, including three shorthanded points (two goals, one assist) over the span
- Michal Rozsival has recorded four assists in the last six contests
WORLD JUNIOR ROSTERS SET
Blueshirts’ prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque will represent Team USA at the 2011 World Junior Championship in Buffalo, New York. This will be their second trip to the elite tournament, having both represented the gold medal-winning Team USA at the 2010 World Junior Championship. Roman Horak (Czech Republic) and Jesper Fasth (Sweden) are also expected to represent their native country in the tournament. This will be Horak’s second appearance at the World Junior Championship, having represented the Czech Republic in last year’s tournament, while Fasth will be making his first appearance in the tournament.
- Dan Girardi: 1 point from 100 NHL career
- Alex Frolov: 4 points from 400 NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
- Marian Gaborik: 600th career NHL game (12/18 at PHI)
- Vinny Prospal (IR on Sept. 24/knee surgery on Oct. 18, 6-8 weeks) – 35
- Derek Boogaard (injured shoulder on Dec. 9) – 5
- Ryan Callahan (broken hand on Dec. 15) – 2
- Marian Gaborik (groin strain)
- Michael Del Zotto (flu)
Total Man-Games Lost: 104
- Dec. 18 – Assigned forward Dale Weise to Connecticut
- Dec. 22 – Recalled forward Mats Zuccarello from Connecticut