And we get to see the Big Man, maybe! That always makes me happy.
I’m going to be very interested to see how guys who logged so much tough ice time last night — Staal, Girardi, Dubinsky — do against a young, rugged team in a different city, in the second of back-to-backs and the third in four nights. And against a team that has handled them pretty well the last two seasons.
Here are the pre-game notes, courtesy of the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS at ST. LOUIS BLUES
Saturday, Jan. 8, 8:00 p.m.
Scottrade Center • St. Louis, MO
Rangers: 24-15-3 (51 pts)
Blues: 20-13-6 (46 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Jan. 7
The Rangers will face-off against the St. Louis Blues at Scottrade Center (8:00 p.m.), in the second game of a back-to-back road set. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and sixth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 24-15-3 (51 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Dallas Stars, 3-2, in the shootout Friday at American Airlines Center, to improve to 7-2-2 in their last 11 games. New York has now registered a point in 19 of their last 27 games (17-8-2). The Blues enter the contest with a 20-13-6 (46 pts) record to rank eighth in the Western Conference, and have registered a point in six of their last seven games (5-1-1). Following he contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, Jan. 11, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in an Original Six match-up.
* TV: MSG Network
7:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show with Bill Pidto and Ron Duguay
8:00 p.m. – Rangers at Blues
Broadcasters: Sam Rosen (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), John Giannone (In-Game Reporter)
* Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
7:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show
8:00 p.m. – Rangers at Blues
Broadcasters: Kenny Albert (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. BLUES:
* All-Time: 74-39-16-0 overall (45-12-6-0 at home, 29-27-10-0 on the road)
* 2010-11: Tonight’s contest marks their second and final meeting this season. The Blueshirts own a 0-1-0 record thus far, following a 2-0 loss at MSG on Nov. 7.
* Last Season: New York was 0-2-0 overall and 0-1-0 on the road
* The Rangers rank first with a 14-7-1 (29 pts) record on the road; the Blues rank third with a 14-5-2 (30 pts) mark at home
* The Rangers are 2-2-0 vs. the Central Division; the Blues are 4-0-0 against the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist is 0-2-0 with a 3.05 goals against average in two career regular season appearances vs. St. Louis; Martin Biron has posted a record of 0-7-0-2 with a 2.52 goals against average in 10 career regular season games against the Blues
* Alex Frolov has registered 12 goals and nine assists for 21 points in 26 career regular season contests vs. St. Louis
* New York lists no former Blues on their roster
* St. Louis lists no former Rangers on their roster
The Blueshirts have posted a plus-six rating on special teams (PPG+SHG minus PPGA+SHGA) this season, which is tied for seventh in the league.
* Power Play: The Rangers tallied one goal in four power play opportunities (7:32) last night at Dallas. New York is tied for 18th overall (25-150, 16.7%) and ranks 15th on the road (13-74, 17.6%). 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 (3): 11/20 at MIN (Cullen); 12/5 vs. OTT (Kelly); 1/2 at FLA (Weiss).
* Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts surrendered one goal to the Stars in four shorthanded situations (7:54) last night at Dallas, and are now 79-91 (86.8%) over the last 30 games. New York ranks 10th overall (119-144, 82.6%) and 13th on the road (69-84, 82.1%). 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 (9): 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); 1/7 at DAL (Fedotenko).
* Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in one four-on-four situation (5:00) last night at Dallas, and are now plus-three in 32, four-on-four situations (60:57). Four-on-four goals for (5): 10/18 vs. COL (Frolov); 11/11 vs. BUF (Anisimov); 11/15 at PIT (Callahan); 12/12 vs. WSH (Callahan); 1/5 vs. CAR (Zuccarello). Four-on-four goals allowed (2): 10/15 vs. TOR (Kessel); 1/1 at TBL (Thompson).
The Rangers will conclude their 11th of 18 back-to-back sets tonight at St. Louis. New York is 6-4-1 (1-0-0 at home, 5-4-1 on the road) in the first game of back-to-backs, following a 3-2 shootout win at Dallas last night. The Blueshirts are 9-1-0 (4-0-0 at home, 5-1-0 on the road) in the second game this season, having out-scored their opponent, 31-12, in those games. Over the last two seasons, New York is 18-3-2 in the back-end of back-to-back sets, including a 8-1-1 mark at MSG and 10-2-1 on the road over the span.
COMPARED TO LAST SEASON…
The Rangers have registered four more wins and six more points compared to last season through 42 games (20-17-5, 45 points in 2009-10), having tallied 13 more goals (124 this season, 111 last season) while allowing 11 fewer goals against (106 this season, 117 last season). New York has also shown a five-goal improvement while shorthanded compared to 2009-10 (nine this season, four last season).
New York is currently nine games over .500 with a 24-15-3 record. New York was never more than six games over .500 last season, having last been at least nine games over on April 12, 2009 (43-30-9).
AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS
The Rangers lead the league in shorthanded goals (nine) and road wins (14), are tied for fifth in wins (24), rank eighth in points (51) and goals (124), and sixth with a plus-18 goal differential.
The Blueshirts have tallied the first goal of the game in 23 of their 42 games, posting a record of 17-5-1 in those contests, and own a record of 10-1-1 when leading after the first period.
New York leads the NHL with 13 points when trailing after two periods, having registered a 5-9-3 mark in those games. The Blueshirts’ five wins are tied for first in the league. 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 in both games. 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 Rangers have had 15 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 1,205 hits and rank second with 664 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 121 blocked shots and Brian Boyle ranks 10th in the NHL with 126 hits.
The Blueshirts were credited with a season-high, 52 shots in their 7-2 win vs. the Islanders on Dec. 27, 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 Dec. 27 (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).
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 HOT LIST:
* Henrik Lundqvist is 11-4-2 with a 1.78 goals against average, a .934 save percentage and three shutouts in his last 17 games
* Brandon Dubinsky has registered 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in the last 16 contests, including seven points (two goals, five assists) in the last seven
* Matt Gilroy has registered four points (three goals, one assist) in his last six contests, and has posted a plus-nine rating in his last 17 games
* Marian Gaborik has recorded 20 points (11 goals, nine assists) in his last 24 games
* Derek Stepan has registered 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in the last 26 contests, with six points (four goals, two assists) in the last nine
* Brian Boyle has recorded 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the last 15 games, and five points (two goals, three assists) in the last seven
* Dan Girardi has recorded six points (one goal, five assists) in the last 11 games
* Marc Staal has tallied 11 points (three goals, eight assists) in the last 20 games
* Mats Zuccarello has registered three points (one goal, two assists) in the last six games
* Alex Frolov: 3 points from 400 NHL career
* Brandon Dubinsky: 4 assists from 100 NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
* Dan Girardi: 100th career NHL point (1/1 at TBL)
* Ryan McDonagh: 1st career NHL game (1/7 at DAL)
* Vinny Prospal (IR on Sept. 24/knee surgery on Oct. 18, 6-8 weeks) – 42
* Derek Boogaard (injured shoulder on Dec. 9) – 12
* Ryan Callahan (broken hand on Dec. 15) – 9
* Erik Christensen (sprained knee on Dec. 29) – 4
Total Man-Games Lost: 131
* Jan. 3 – Recalled defenseman Ryan McDonagh from Connecticut
* Jan. 3 – Assigned defenseman Michael Del Zotto to Connecticut