This is your team for the rest of the season, after a quiet trade deadline and the horribly-timed injury to Martin Biron.
So this is it, and this is a big game against a team in the chase, and it’s a Versus game, to boot.
I know a lot of you were hoping for Brad Richards would wind up in Blue, but I think that Glen Sather, obviously, did the right thing for the franchise, for the future, for the plan. He hung on to all his assets, and the core of his team. And I think that will pay big dividends. I think the Rangers will still make the playoffs, still have a chance to be a dangerous opponent, and still might be able to get Richards July 1.
How odd is it that the Rangers will go down the stretch with wasted cap space? Hah. But you’d better pray for Henrik Lundqvist to remain upright.
Want to thank you guys for your traffic and your comments yesterday. Youse are truly nuts in the best way. And I appreciate it.
Not sure yet if I’m going to make it down to MSG tonight.
Here are tonight’s pre-game notes, courtesy of the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. BUFFALO SABRES
Tuesday, Mar. 1, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden • New York, NY
Rangers: 33-27-4 (70 pts)
Sabres: 29-25-7 (65 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Feb. 27
The Rangers will continue their three-game homestand when they face-off against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in their second of five games in eight days. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and seventh in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 33-27-4 (70 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having been defeated by the Tampa Bay Lightning, 2-1, on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, and are now 2-1-0 in their last three games. The Sabres enter the contest with a 29-25-7 (65 pts) record to rank ninth in the Eastern Conference, and have registered a point in each of their last three games (2-0-1). Following the contest, the Rangers will conclude their three-game homestand when they face-off against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday, Mar. 3, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in the first game of a back-to-back set.
- TV: Versus
7:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Sabres
- Radio: 970 The Apple and newyorkrangers.com
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show
7:00 p.m. – Rangers vs. Sabres
Broadcasters: Don LaGreca (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. SABRES:
- All-Time: 57-69-25-5 overall (33-26-15-3 at home, 24-43-10-2 on the road)
- 2010-11: Tonight is the third of four meetings this season, and the second of two meetings at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers own a 2-0-0 record thus far, including a 1-0-0 mark at home following a 3-2 overtime victory at MSG on Nov. 11.
- Last Season: New York was 1-2-1 overall and 0-1-1 at home. Three of their four meetings were decided by one goal, including a 2-1 overtime loss on Mar. 7 at MSG.
- The Rangers rank 24th with a 14-14-3 (31 pts) record at home; the Sabres rank 14th with a 15-10-4 (34 pts) mark on the road
- New York is 7-5-1 vs. the Northeast Division; Buffalo is 3-8-3 vs. the Atlantic Division
- Henrik Lundqvist is 8-6-2 with a 2.49 goals against average in 16 career regular season games vs. Buffalo; Martin Biron is 8-3-0-1 with a 2.82 goals against average and two shutouts in 13 career regular season appearances vs. Buffalo
- Vinny Prospal has tallied a team-high, 12 goals, 17 assists and 29 points in 48 career regular season contests vs. Buffalo; Brandon Dubinsky has registered 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 12 career regular season contests vs. Buffalo
- New York lists two former Sabres on their roster: Martin Biron (1995-96 – 2006-07); Chris Drury (2003-04 – 2006-07)
- Buffalo lists no former Rangers on their roster
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 did not tally a goal in four power play opportunities (8:00) on Sunday vs. Tampa Bay, and are now 10-52 (19.2%) with the man advantage in their last 13 games. New York ranks 24th overall (38-229, 16.6%) and 20th at home (21-118, 17.8%). 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 surrendered one goal to the Lightning in six shorthanded situations (10:53) and tallied one shorthanded goal on Sunday at MSG, and have allowed only seven power play goals against in the last 22 games (63-70, 90.0% over the span). New York ranks seventh overall (182-216, 84.3%) and 12th at home (82-97, 84.5%). The Rangers are 7-10 (7:21) in three-on-five situations (last – 2/27 vs. TBL), and 4-6 (2:41) when three-on-four (last – 11/15 at PIT). Shorthanded goals for (10): 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); 2/27 vs. TBL (Prust).
- Four-on-Four: New York did not skate in a four-on-four situation on Sunday vs. Tampa Bay, 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).
NEW ACT ON BROADWAY
On Saturday, the Rangers acquired defenseman Bryan McCabe from Florida, in exchange for forward Tim Kennedy and a third round pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. McCabe has eclipsed the 40-point plateau five times, including three seasons of 50 or more points, and was named to the NHL Second All-Star Team in 2004. The 15-year NHL veteran skated in his 1,000th career game on Nov. 6, 2009 vs. Washington, and was named Florida’s captain on Sept. 23, 2009. McCabe, who made his Rangers’ debut on Sunday vs. Tampa Bay, registered five goals and 17 assists for 22 points, along with 28 penalty minutes in 48 games with Florida this season prior to the trade.
TOURING THE EMPIRE STATE
Martin Biron is one of only four players in NHL history to play for all three teams in the state of New York. The other three are Pat LaFontaine, Mike Donnelly and Jason Dawe.
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. New York’s next back-to-back set begins on Thursday vs. Minnesota, and will conclude on Friday at Ottawa.
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 third. The Blueshirts have out-shot their opponent, 152-83, in the third period of their last 13 games.
COMPARED TO LAST SEASON…
The Rangers have registered four more wins and four more points compared to last season through 64 games (29-27-8, 66 points in 2009-10), having tallied 10 more goals (179 this season, 169 last season) while allowing 18 fewer goals against (157 this season, 175 last season). New York has also shown a five-goal improvement while shorthanded compared to 2009-10 (10 this season, five last season).
AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS
The Rangers are tied for the league lead in shorthanded goals (10) and hits (1,821), second in blocked shots (1,016), rank fifth in road wins (19) and goals against (157), seventh in penalty killing (84.3%), and eighth with a plus-22 goal differential.
The Blueshirts have skated in 32 one-goal games this season, which is the fifth most in the league, having posted a record of 17-11-4 in those contests. Their 17 wins are tied for sixth in the NHL. Nineteen of the Rangers’ last 26 games have been decided by one goal, including nine of their last 12 home games.
The Rangers have had 18 different players credited with at least one game winning goal this season, which is the most in the NHL.
THE HOT LIST:
- Brandon Prust enters tonight’s contest with a three game scoring streak, registering three points (two goals, one assist) over the span
- Ryan McDonagh has tallied three assists in the last four games
- Ryan Callahan has recorded nine points (six goals, three assists) in the last 12 games, including seven points (four goals, three assists) in the last seven contests
- Mats Zuccarello has registered eight assists in the last 13 games
- Derek Stepan has tallied six points (three goals, three assists) in the last nine games, and has recorded seven points (three goals, four assists) in the last nine home games
- Vinny Prospal has recorded five points (two goals, three assists) in the last eight contests
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).
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
- Steve Eminger: 2 games from 400 NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
- Henrik Lundqvist: 200th career NHL win (2/17 vs. LAK)
· Derek Boogaard (injured shoulder on Dec. 9) – 34
· Alex Frolov (injured knee on Jan. 8, expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the season) – 21
· Chris Drury (injured knee on Feb. 4, 6 weeks) – 10
· Marian Gaborik (concussion-like symptoms) – 3
· Marc Staal (knee strain on Feb. 22, day to day) – 2
Total Man-Games Lost: 245
· 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)