This three game trip, and stretch of four against the Southeast (which leads into the much-needed all-star break) doesn’t look so bad on paper. But, the Rangers’ band-aided lineup notwithstanding, it’s going to be tough.
Because anybody who saw Cam Ward and the Canes come to MSG two weeks ago knows that is a team on the rise, one that will make noise for a playoff berth before the season is out. And everybody knows that Washington will be way better than its record when all is said and done (and the Capitals will want some payback for that 7-0 shellacking at MSG). And because we have seen Atlanta and Florida beat the Rangers already this season.
Here are the pre-game notes, courtesy of the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS at CAROLINA HURRICANES
Thursday, Jan. 20, 7:00 p.m.
RBC Center • Raleigh, North Carolina
Rangers: 27-18-3 (57 pts)
Hurricanes: 22-18-6 (50 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Jan. 19
The Rangers will begin a three-game road trip when they face-off against the Carolina Hurricanes at RBC Center (7:00 p.m.), in the first of four consecutive games vs. Southeast Division opponents. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and sixth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 27-18-3 (57 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 7-0, last night at Madison Square Garden to improve to 10-5-1 in their last 16 games at home. New York has registered a point in 22 of their last 33 games (20-11-2), and are now 10-5-2 in their last 17. The Hurricanes enter the contest with a 22-18-6 (50 pts) record to rank ninth in the Eastern Conference, and have lost three of their last four games. Following the contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Atlanta Thrashers on Saturday, Jan. 22, at Philips Arena (7:00 p.m.), in their third game in four nights.
* TV: MSG Network
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show with Bill Pidto and Ron Duguay
7:00 p.m. – Rangers at Hurricanes
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
7:00 p.m. – Rangers at Hurricanes
Broadcasters: Joe Tolleson (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. HURRICANES:
* All-Time: 54-47-7-2 overall (34-17-4-2 at home, 20-30-3-0 on the road)
* 2010-11: Tonight is the third of four meetings this season, and first of two at RBC Center. New York is 1-1-0 thus far, following a 2-1 overtime victory at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 5.
* Last Season: New York was 2-1-1 overall and 2-0-0 on the road. Three of their four meetings were decided by two goals or less, including one that required overtime on Jan. 2 at MSG (1-2).
* The Rangers rank fourth with a 15-8-1 (31 pts) record on the road; the Hurricanes rank 23rd with an 11-8-2 (24 pts) mark at home
* The Rangers are 3-5-2 vs. the Southeast Division; the Hurricanes are 3-3-2 vs. the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist is 9-7-1 with a 2.33 goals against average and one shutout in 17 career regular season games vs. Carolina; Martin Biron is 10-4-1-2 with a 2.53 goals against average and one shutout in 19 career regular season games vs. Carolina
* Marian Gaborik has tallied seven goals and seven assists for 14 points in 13 career regular season contests vs. the Hurricanes; Ruslan Fedotenko leads the team with 14 goals in 45 career regular season contests vs. Carolina, and Chris Drury has recorded a team-high, eight assists in 30 career appearances
* New York lists no former Hurricanes on their roster
* Carolina 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 sixth in the league.
* Power Play: The Rangers tallied two goals in four power play opportunities (5:50) last night vs. Toronto. New York ranks 21st overall (28-171, 16.4%) and ranks 19th on the road (13-83, 15.7%). 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 (4): 11/20 at MIN (Cullen); 12/5 vs. OTT (Kelly); 1/2 at FLA (Weiss); 1/16 vs. PHI (Richards).
* Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts held the Maple Leafs scoreless in three shorthanded situations (6:00) last night at MSG, and are now 99-113 (87.6%) over the last 36 games. New York ranks seventh overall (139-166, 83.7%) and 11th on the road (77-94, 81.9%). The Rangers are 6-8 (6:05) in three-on-five situations (last – 1/13 vs. VAN), 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 (2:00) last night vs. Toronto, and are now plus-three in 37, four-on-four situations (68:26). 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).
FOUR SCORE AND MORE
The Rangers defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs, 7-0, last night at Madison Square Garden…
* New York’s seven-goal margin of victory tied their season-high, set on Dec. 12 vs. Washington (7-0)
* Five Rangers registered multi-point efforts, and seven Blueshirts posted a plus-two or better rating
* Marian Gaborik (four goals, one assist) posted his third hat trick of the season, the most by a Ranger in a single season since Jaromir Jagr posted three hat tricks during the 2005-06 season
* The last Ranger to tally four goals in a game was Radek Dvorak on Mar. 29, 2001 at Long Island, and the last Blueshirt to register five points in a single game was Mike York on Jan. 23, 2002 vs. Boston (two goals, three assists)
* The Rangers have now registered four hat tricks this season (Derek Stepan, Marian Gaborik – 3), which is the most for the team since the 2005-06 season (Jaromir Jagr – 3, Martin Straka)
* Henrik Lundqvist (22 saves) posted his seventh shutout of the season to pass Jon Ross Roach for third on the Rangers’ all-time career regular season shutouts list (31), and moved ahead of Mike Richter for fourth on the Rangers’ all-time career shutouts list (regular season + playoffs) with 34
* Lundqvist also registered his 20th win of the season to become the third goalie in NHL history to record 20 or more wins in their first six seasons (Bill Durnan, 7 seasons from 1943 to 1949; George Hainsworth, 6 seasons from 1926 to 1931), and now owns the second longest active streak of 20-plus win seasons (six), behind Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo (eight)
* Artem Anisimov tallied a career-high, four assists, the most by a Ranger since Marian Gaborik recorded four assists on Jan. 19, 2010 in an 8-2 win vs. Tampa Bay
Rangers’ defenseman Marc Staal has faced off against his older brother, Carolina forward Eric Staal, 14 times in his career, amassing a 7-6-1 record with five points (two goals, three assists), 10 penalty minutes and a plus-one rating. Eric has registered a 7-5-2 mark behind five goals and five assists, along with eight penalty minutes and an even plus/minus rating in those 14 games.
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 will complete their 13th of 18 back-to-back sets tomorrow at Carolina. New York is 7-5-1 (2-1-0 at home, 5-4-1 on the road) in the first game of back-to-backs. The Blueshirts are 10-2-0 (4-1-0 at home, 6-1-0 on the road) in the second game this season, having out-scored their opponent, 35-16, in those games. Over the last two seasons, New York is 19-4-2 in the back-end of back-to-back sets, including a 8-2-1 mark at MSG and 11-2-1 on the road over the span.
COMPARED TO LAST SEASON…
The Rangers have registered five more wins and six more points compared to last season through 48 games (22-19-7, 51 points in 2009-10), having tallied 18 more goals (139 this season, 121 last season) while allowing 14 fewer goals against (115 this season, 129 last season). New York has also shown a five-goal improvement while shorthanded compared to 2009-10 (nine this season, four last season).
The Rangers rank first among Eastern Conference teams in winning percentage (.692), tied for first in wins (nine) and second in points (18) vs. Western Conference teams this season, having posted a 9-4-0 record in 13 games.
New York is currently nine games over .500 with a 27-18-3 record. New York was never more than six games over .500 last season, having last been at least nine games over on Apr. 12, 2009 (43-30-9).
AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS
The Rangers lead the league in shorthanded goals (nine), rank second in road wins (15), are tied for sixth in wins (27), rank ninth in points (57), sixth in goals against (115), 10th in goals for (139), and fifth with a plus-24 goal differential.
The Blueshirts rank fourth in the league with a .619 winning percentage in one-goal games, posting a record of 13-5-3 in those contests. Their 13 wins are tied for fifth in the NHL.
The Rangers have had 17 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 1,387 hits and rank second with 762 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 139 blocked shots and Brian Boyle ranks eighth in the NHL with 143 hits.
THE HOT LIST:
* Henrik Lundqvist is 13-6-2 with a 1.69 goals against average, a .940 save percentage and five shutouts in his last 21 games
* Derek Stepan enters the contest with a three-game assist/point streak (one goal, three assists over the span), and has registered 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists) in the last 32 games
* Mats Zuccarello enters the contest with a three-game scoring streak (two goals, two assists over the span), and has recorded seven points (three goals, four assists) in the last eight games
* Wojtek Wolski has recorded five points (two goals, three assists) in five games as a Ranger, including four points (one goal, three assists) in the last two contests
* Marian Gaborik has registered seven points (four goals, three assists) in the last six games
* Henrik Lundqvist: 3 wins from 200 NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
* Matt Gilroy: 100th career NHL game (1/16 vs. PHI)
* Vinny Prospal (IR on Sept. 24/knee surgery on Oct. 18, 6-8 weeks) – 48
* Derek Boogaard (injured shoulder on Dec. 9) – 18
* Ryan Callahan (broken hand on Dec. 15) – 15
* Erik Christensen (sprained knee on Dec. 29) – 10
* Alex Frolov (injured knee on Jan. 8, expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the season) – 5
* Brandon Dubinsky (stress fracture in left leg, 3 – 4 weeks) – 1
Total Man-Games Lost: 163
* Jan. 19 – Recalled forward Chad Kolarik from Connecticut (AHL)
* Jan. 19 – Recalled forward Brodie Dupont from Connecticut (AHL)