And, no, it’s not Game 7.
(… I hit PUBLISH accidentally when I meant to schedule this to be published in the morning, and I decided, since some of you saw it already, that I’d just leave it up. So there won’t be a post in the morning, OK?)
So I finished snow-blowing and shoveling and tearing every muscle in my back yesterday, and decide it was time to take some serious anti-inflammatories and watch some hockey. Or at least, whatever they were showing on NHL Network.
And that was, first, Flyers-Sabres from the night before. Then later, they showed the one-hour video from the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stanley Cup championship run. The latter was pretty cool, seeing a younger John Tortorella and how awesome it was that he brought that team together, and how they played (and he told me last week that one of the keys to that whole thing was GM Jay Feaster’s late-season trade for D Daryl Sydor), and how good Ruslan Fedotenko and future Ranger Brad Richards (Conn Smythe) were.
One fact caught my eye in the Flyers-Sabres game. There have been 157 NHL coaching changes since Lindy Ruff was hired.
What also caught my eye was the way the Flyers play, which is pretty much the way the Rangers play, only with more depth, especially offensively. But also that when one Flyers defenseman chases the puck to the corner or behind the net, the other goes in front and stays there.
And also, I saw Mike Richards block a shot standing up, not on one knee, and the result was a breakaway and a goal. Then later, in the ’04 Cup final, I saw his namesake, Brad Richards, block a shot standing up, not on one knee, and get a breakaway out of it. Just sayin.
Here are tonight’s pre-game notes, courtesy of the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. VANCOUVER CANUCKS
Thursday, Jan. 13, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden • New York, NY
Rangers: 25-16-3 (53 pts)
Canucks: 28-8-6 (62 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Jan. 11
The Rangers will face-off against the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in their only meeting this season. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and sixth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 25-16-3 (53 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having been defeated by the Montreal Canadiens, 2-1, on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden to end their three-game winning streak, and are now 8-3-2 in their last 13 games. New York has registered a point in 20 of their last 29 games (18-9-2), and is 8-4-1 in their last 13 games at home. The Canucks enter the contest with a 28-8-6 (62 pts) record to rank first in the Western Conference, and have registered a point in each of their last 17 games (14-0-3). Following the contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday, Jan. 15, at Bell Centre (7:00 p.m.), in the first game of a back-to-back set.
* TV: MSG Network
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show with Al Trautwig
7:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Canucks
Broadcasters: Sam Rosen (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), Al Trautwig and John Giannone (In-Game Reporters)
* Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show
7:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Canucks
Broadcasters: Don LaGreca (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. CANUCKS:
* All-Time: 71-30-8-0 overall (38-13-5-0 at home, 33-17-3-0 on the road)
* 2010-11: Tonight’s contest marks their only meeting this season
* Last Season: New York was 0-1-0 overall, following a 4-1 loss at Vancouver on Nov. 3
* The Rangers rank 20th with a 10-9-2 (22 pts) record at home; the Canucks rank sixth with a 13-5-3 (29 pts) mark on the road
* The Rangers are 3-2-0 vs. the Northwest Division; the Canucks are 3-1-0 against the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist is 0-3-0 with a 4.59 goals against average in three career appearances vs. Vancouver; Martin Biron is 3-3-1 with a 2.85 goals against average in eight career appearances vs. Vancouver
* Marian Gaborik has registered 18 goals and 13 assists for 31 points in 37 career regular season contests vs. Vancouver
* New York lists no former Canucks on their roster
* Vancouver lists two former Rangers on their roster: Manny Malhotra (1998-99 – 2001-02); Mikael Samuelsson (2001-02 – 2002-03)
The Blueshirts have posted a plus-six rating on special teams (PPG+SHG minus PPGA+SHGA) this season, which is tied for eighth in the league.
* Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in two power play opportunities (2:08) on Tuesday vs. Montreal. New York ranks 22nd overall (25-157, 15.9%) and ranks 27th at home (12-78, 15.4%). 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 held the Canadiens scoreless in two shorthanded situations (2:08) on Tuesday at MSG, and are now 87-99 (87.9%) over the last 32 games. New York ranks 10th overall (127-152, 83.6%) and 13th at home (52-62, 83.9%). The Rangers are 5-7 (5:18) in three-on-five situations (last – 1/8 at STL), 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 two four-on-four situations (3:52) on Tuesday vs. Montreal, and are now plus-three in 35, four-on-four situations (65:50). 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).
Henrik Lundqvist tallied an assist vs. Montreal on Tuesday and has now registered an assist in each of his last three games, tying the NHL record for longest assist streak by a goaltender. Two other goalies have posted three-game assist streaks in NHL history – Tom Barrasso in 1984-85 and 1988-89, and Ed Belfour in 2001-02. Lundqvist is the first Rangers goalie ever to record an assist in three straight games (goalie games played, not team games). *courtesy of Elias Sports Bureau
YOUTH IS SERVED
The Rangers have the sixth youngest team in the league with an average age of 26 years and 210 days, and the youngest defensive corp in the league with an average age of 24 years and 328 days. *based on NHL rosters on Jan. 11
The Rangers completed their 11th of 18 back-to-back sets with a 2-1 win at St. Louis on Saturday. 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 on Friday. The Blueshirts are 10-1-0 (4-0-0 at home, 6-1-0 on the road) in the second game this season, having out-scored their opponent, 33-13, in those games. Over the last two seasons, New York is 19-3-2 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 five more points compared to last season through 44 games (21-17-6, 48 points in 2009-10), having tallied 10 more goals (127 this season, 117 last season) while allowing 12 fewer goals against (109 this season, 121 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 25-16-3 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 (15), are tied for sixth in wins (25), eighth in points (53), ninth in goals (127), and sixth with a plus-18 goal differential.
The Blueshirts lead the league with a .667 winning percentage in one-goal games, posting a record of 12-3-3 in those contests. Their 12 wins are tied for fifth in the NHL.
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 16 different players credited with at least one game winning goal this season, which is the most in the NHL.
The Blueshirts have tallied the first goal of the game in 24 of their 44 games, posting a record of 17-6-1 in those contests, and own a record of 10-2-1 when leading after the first period.
LITTLE THINGS MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE
The Rangers currently lead the NHL with 1,266 hits and rank third with 695 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 125 blocked shots and Brian Boyle is tied for eighth in the NHL with 131 hits.
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 11-5-2 with a 1.79 goals against average, a .935 save percentage and three shutouts in his last 18 games, and enters the contest with an NHL record three-game assist streak
* Brandon Dubinsky has registered 17 points (five goals, 12 assists) in the last 18 contests, including 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in the last nine
* Matt Gilroy has registered five points (three goals, two assists) in his last eight contests, and has posted a plus-10 rating in his last 19 games
* Derek Stepan has registered 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in the last 28 contests, with seven points (five goals, two assists) in the last 11
* Brian Boyle has recorded 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the last 17 games
* Mats Zuccarello has registered four points (one goal, three assists) in the last eight games
* Brandon Dubinsky: 2 assists from 100 NHL career
* Matt Gilroy: 3 games from 100 NHL career
* Henrik Lundqvist: 5 wins from 200 NHL career; 1 shutout from 30 NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
* Ryan McDonagh: 1st career NHL game (1/7 at DAL)
* Vinny Prospal (IR on Sept. 24/knee surgery on Oct. 18, 6-8 weeks) – 44
* Derek Boogaard (injured shoulder on Dec. 9) – 14
* Ryan Callahan (broken hand on Dec. 15) – 11
* Erik Christensen (sprained knee on Dec. 29) – 6
Total Man-Games Lost: 141
* Jan. 10 – Acquired forward Wojtek Wolski from Phoenix in exchange for defenseman Michal Rozsival