So we open 2011 with a choice. Rangers (7:30) or Winter Classic (re-scheduled for 8)? Well, the Sid vs. Ovie game is still questionable because of the weather in Pitt.
Since we don’t have pre-game notes for the Caps-Pens, here are the pre-game notes for Rangers-Lightnings, courtesy of the NYR:
NEW YORK RANGERS at TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Saturday, Jan. 1, 7:30 p.m.
St. Pete Times Forum • Tampa Bay, FL
Rangers: 22-14-2 (46 pts)
Lightning: 22-11-5 (49 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Dec. 30
The Rangers will continue their three-game road trip when they face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning at St. Pete Times Forum (7:30 p.m.), in the first game of a back-to-back set. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and sixth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 22-14-2 (46 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the New Jersey Devils, 3-1, on Wednesday at Prudential Center to improve to 15-7-1 in their last 23 games. The Lightning enter the contest with a 22-11-5 (49 pts) record to rank second in the Eastern Conference, and have registered a point in nine of their last 10 games (7-1-2). Following the contest, the Rangers will conclude their three-game road trip when they face-off against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, Jan. 2, at BankAtlantic Center (5:00 p.m.), in the second game of a back-to-back set.
* TV: MSG Network
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: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
7:00 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show
7:30 p.m. – Rangers at Lightning
Broadcasters: Joe Tolleson (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. LIGHTNING:
* All-Time: 37-28-5-4 overall (21-12-2-3 at home, 16-16-3-1 on the road)
* 2010-11: Tonight is the third of four meetings this season, and the second at St. Pete Times Forum. New York is 0-1-1 thus far following a 4-3 shootout loss on Dec. 23, and have posted a 0-1-0 mark at Tampa Bay.
* Last Season: New York was 3-1-0 overall and 1-1-0 on the road. 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 11-round shootout between New York and Tampa Bay in their last meeting on Dec. 23 at MSG is tied for the sixth longest in the NHL all-time, and is the third longest in Rangers’ history.
* The Rangers rank first with a 13-6-0 (26 pts) record on the road; the Lightning rank 12th with a 11-3-2 (24 pts) mark at home
* The Rangers are 2-4-1 vs. the Southeast Division; the Lightning are 6-1-2 against the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist is 13-6-3 with a 2.11 goals against average and two shutouts in 22 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 21 points in 31 career games vs. Tampa Bay; Michal Rozsival leads the Rangers with 13 assists in 32 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)
The Blueshirts have posted a plus-seven rating on special teams (PPG+SHG minus PPGA+SHGA) this season, which ranks eighth in the league.
* Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in four power play opportunities (8:00) on Wednesday at New Jersey, and have now registered a goal in eight of the last 12 games (9-44, 20.5% over the span). New York ranks 18th overall (24-139, 17.3%) and 15th on the road (12-66, 18.2%). 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 held the Devils scoreless in four shorthanded situations (8:00) on Wednesday at New Jersey, and are now 68-78 (87.2%) over the last 26 games. New York ranks 11th overall (108-131, 82.4%) and 10th on the road (61-74, 82.4%). 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 skate in a four-on-four situation on Wednesday at New Jersey, and are now plus-three in 28, four-on-four situations (51:15). 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).
Tonight’s contest will begin the Rangers’ 10th of 18 back-to-back sets this season. New York is currently 5-4-0 (1-0-0 at home, 4-4-0 on the road) in the first game of back-to-backs, following a 4-1 win at Pittsburgh on Dec. 15. The Blueshirts are 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 were credited with a season-high, 52 shots in their 7-2 win vs. the Islanders on Monday, their most since they registered 57 shots vs. the Islanders on Mar. 5, 2007 (2-1 win). The Rangers tied their season-high for most shots in a period with 18 in each of the first two periods, and their 36 shots through two periods is the most since recording 37 shots through two vs. Washington on Oct. 12, 2007 (20 in the first, 17 in the second in a 3-1 win). The Blueshirts’ 32-shot advantage over the Islanders on Monday (52-20) is tied for the second largest in the NHL this season, behind St. Louis’ 39-shot advantage over Anaheim on Oct. 11 (53-14).
WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES
Compared to last season, the Blueshirts have shown a four wins, six points improvement, having tallied 13 more goals (including a four-goal improvement while shorthanded) while allowing eight fewer goals against through 38 games.
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.
The Rangers have had 14 different players credited with at least one game winning goal this season, which is the most in the NHL.
LITTLE THINGS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
The Rangers currently lead the NHL with 1,099 hits and rank third with 607 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 107 blocked shots and Brian Boyle is tied for 10th in the NHL with 111 hits.
THE HOT LIST:
* The last time the Rangers were at least eight games over .500 in the standings was on Apr. 12, 2009 (43-30-9)
* The Rangers lead the league in shorthanded goals (eight), are tied for fourth in wins (22), eighth in points (46), and rank ninth in goals (118), and seventh with a plus-20 goal differential
* Henrik Lundqvist is 9-4-1 with a 1.83 goals against average, a .932 save percentage and three shutouts in his last 14 games
* Derek Stepan enters the game with a five-game scoring streak (four goals, two assists), and has registered 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in the last 22 contests
* Brian Boyle has recorded 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the last 11 games, including points in each of the last three (two goals, three assists over the span)
* Chris Drury has tallied four assists in the last five games
* Brandon Dubinsky has registered points in each of the last three games (two goals, three assists during the stretch), and 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in the last 12 contests
* Alex Frolov has tallied five points (two goals, three assists) in the last seven games
* Marc Staal has tallied 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in the last 16 games, including six points (two goals, four assists) in the last eight
* Dan Girardi has recorded five points (one goal, four assists) in the last seven games
* Artem Anisimov enters the contest with a three-game assist streak (three assists), and has recorded six points (two goals, four assists) in the last seven games
* Michal Rozsival has registered six points (one goal, five assists) in the last nine games
* Ruslan Fedotenko has tallied a point in each of the last three games (two goals, one assist), and four of the last five (two goals, two assists)
* Brandon Prust has registered eight points (four goals, four assists) in the last 12 games, including an assist in each of the last two contests
* Dan Girardi: 1 point from 100 NHL career
* Alex Frolov: 3 points from 400 NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
* Mats Zuccarello: 1st career NHL assist/point (12/27 vs. NYI)
* Vinny Prospal (IR on Sept. 24/knee surgery on Oct. 18, 6-8 weeks) – 38
* Derek Boogaard (injured shoulder on Dec. 9) – 8
* Ryan Callahan (broken hand on Dec. 15) – 5
* Erik Christensen (sprained knee on Dec. 29)
Total Man-Games Lost: 115
* Dec. 26 – Recalled forward Mats Zuccarello from Connecticut
* Dec. 29 – Assigned forward Todd White to Connecticut
* Dec. 29 – Recalled forward Dale Weise from Connecticut