It’s a 1 p.m. matinee as the Rangers play the final game of February, the final game before tomorrow’s trade deadline, and the first of a three-game homestand.
Bryan McCabe is expected to make his Rangers debut. Marc Staal is expected to miss his second straight game. Ruslan Fedotenko is day to day. Kris Newbury, who cleared waivers yesterday, is still with the team in case Fedotenko can’t go.
I’m headed to MSG at the crack of dawn (or so it seems). See youse later. Here are the pre-game notes, courtesy of the New York Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Sunday, Feb. 27, 1:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden • New York, NY
Rangers: 33-26-4 (70 pts)
Lightning: 36-18-7 (79 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Feb. 25
The Rangers will face-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Madison Square Garden (1:00 p.m.), in the first game of a three-game homestand. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and seventh in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 33-26-4 (70 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Washington Capitals, 6-0, on Friday at Verizon Center, and are now 4-2-0 in their last six games. The Lightning enter the contest with a 36-18-7 (79 pts) record to rank second in the Eastern Conference, and have lost three of their last five games (2-1-2). Following the contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday, Mar. 1, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), as they continue their three-game homestand.
* TV: MSG Network
12:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show with Al Trautwig
1:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Lightning
Broadcasters: Sam Rosen (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), Al Trautwig and John Giannone (In-Game Reporters)
* Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
12:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show
1:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Lightning
Broadcasters: Don LaGreca (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. LIGHTNING:
* All-Time: 37-28-5-5 overall (21-12-2-3 at home, 16-16-3-2 on the road)
* 2010-11: Tonight is the fourth and final meeting this season, and the second at Madison Square Garden. New York is 0-1-2 thus far following a 2-1 overtime loss at Tampa Bay on Jan. 1, and have posted an 0-0-1 mark at MSG.
* 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 on Dec. 23 at MSG is tied for the sixth longest in NHL history, and is the third longest in Rangers’ history.
* The Rangers are tied for 24th with a 14-13-3 (31 pts) record at home; the Lightning rank 15th with a 15-11-3 (33 pts) mark on the road
* The Rangers are 7-8-2 vs. the Southeast Division; the Lightning are 9-4-3 against the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist is 13-6-4 with a 2.11 goals against average and two shutouts in 23 career regular season games vs. Tampa Bay; Martin Biron is 10-7-2-0 with a 2.66 goals against average in 19 career regular season contests vs. Tampa Bay
* Chris Drury has recorded a team-high 12 goals and 21 points in 32 career games vs. Tampa Bay
* 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-10 rating on special teams (PPG+SHG minus PPGA+SHGA) this season, which is tied for fourth in the league.
* Power Play: The Rangers tallied two goals in four power play opportunities (5:34) on Friday at Washington, and are now 10-48 (20.8%) with the man advantage in their last 12 games. New York is tied for 20th overall (38-225, 16.9%) and ranks 18th at home (21-114, 18.4%). The Rangers are 2-10 (8:17) in five-on-three situations (last – 2/22 at CAR), and 0-3 (4:23) when four-on-three (last – 2/17 vs. LAK). 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 Capitals scoreless in five shorthanded situations (8:42) on Friday at Washington, and have allowed only six power play goals against in the last 21 games (58-64, 90.6% over the span). New York ranks seventh overall (177-210, 84.3%) and 12th at home (77-91, 84.6%). The Rangers are 7-9 (6:45) in three-on-five situations (last – 2/3 vs. NJD), 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 (1:18) on Friday at Washington, and are now plus-three in 48, four-on-four situations (98:15). The Rangers are even in one, three-on-three situation (2:00) this season (2/17 vs. LAK). 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 completed their 15th of 18 back-to-back sets on Feb. 18 at New Jersey. New York is 9-5-1 (3-1-0 at home, 6-4-1 on the road) in the first game of back-to-backs. The Blueshirts are 10-5-0 (4-2-0 at home, 6-3-0 on the road) in the second game this season, having out-scored their opponent, 39-25, in those games. Over the last two seasons, New York is 19-7-2 in the back-end of back-to-back sets, including an 8-3-1 mark at MSG and 11-4-1 on the road over the span.
Henrik Lundqvist posted his 200th career win in a 4-3 shootout win vs. Los Angeles on Feb. 17, becoming only the fifth goalie in franchise history to reach the 200-win mark. He currently ranks fourth on the Rangers’ all-time wins list (202).
Rangers’ forwards Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and Vinny Prospal have each made strong returns since returning from injury earlier this month. Callahan has registered nine points (six goals, three assists) in 11 games since returning from injury on Feb. 1 vs. Pittsburgh, following a 19-game hiatus due to a broken hand suffered on Dec. 15 at Pittsburgh. Dubinsky also returned on Feb. 1 after missing five games with a stress fracture on his left fibula, and has recorded five points (two goals, three assists) over the span. Prospal made his season debut on Feb. 3 vs. New Jersey after missing the first 53 games of the season with a knee injury, and has tallied six points (three goals, three assists) and 29 shots on goal.
New York has posted a record of 7-18-3 when trailing after the second period. The Rangers’ 17 points lead the league, while their seven wins are tied for first in the NHL and their .250 winning percentage rank second. The Blueshirts have out-shot their opponent, 142-76, in the third period of their last 12 games.
COMPARED TO LAST SEASON…
The Rangers have registered four more wins and five more points compared to last season through 63 games (29-27-7, 63 points in 2009-10), having tallied 13 more goals (178 this season, 165 last season) while allowing 15 fewer goals against (155 this season, 170 last season). New York has also shown a four-goal improvement while shorthanded compared to 2009-10 (nine this season, five last season).
AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS
The Rangers rank second in the league in hits (1,789), are tied for second in shorthanded goals (nine), rank seventh in penalty killing (84.3%), third in blocked shots (1,007), are tied for sixth in goals against (155), fourth in road wins (19), and rank eighth with a plus-23 goal differential.
The Blueshirts have skated in 31 one-goal games this season, tied for fifth most in the league, having posted a record of 17-10-4 in those contests. Their 17 wins are tied for fifth in the NHL. Eighteen of the Rangers’ last 25 games have been decided by one goal, including eight of their last 11 home games.
The Rangers have had 17 different players credited with at least one game winning goal this season, which is the most in the NHL.
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 HOT LIST:
* Ryan Callahan has recorded nine points (six goals, three assists) in the last 11 games, including seven points (four goals, three assists) in the last six
* Mats Zuccarello has registered eight assists in the last 12 games
* Derek Stepan has tallied six points (three goals, three assists) in the last eight games, and has recorded seven points (three goals, four assists) in the last eight home games
* Vinny Prospal has recorded five points (two goals, three assists) in the last seven contests
* Michael Sauer has tallied three assists in the last five games
* Steve Eminger: 4 wins from 400 NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
* Henrik Lundqvist: 200th career NHL win (2/17 vs. LAK)
* Derek Boogaard (injured shoulder on Dec. 9) – 33
* Alex Frolov (injured knee on Jan. 8, expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the season) – 20
* Chris Drury (injured knee on Feb. 4, 6 weeks) – 9
* Marian Gaborik (concussion-like symptoms) – 2
* Marc Staal (injured on Feb. 22) – 1
Total Man-Games Lost: 240
* Feb. 26: Acquired defenseman Bryan McCabe from Florida, in exchange for forward Tim Kennedy and a third round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft
* Feb. 26: Assigned defenseman Michael Del Zotto to Connecticut (AHL)