Well, two of the three games that affected your boys went the wrong way last night. One of the two most important games worked out great, when the Buffalo Baby Buffaloes lost to the Leaves and snapped their three-game winning streak. Carolina’s win, though, kept the Rangers’ playoff berth in doubt, left the Magic Number at 8.
So now nobody has any games in hand on the Rangers, who have six left, and the Rangers have a game in hand on the Habs.
The Rangers begin a streak of four games in six nights, and back-to-backs (at Nassau tomorrow). But, really, if they win tonight they are golden, aren’t they? Take care of business tonight and leave Buffalo to battle Carolina for eighth. The Former Whalers play Montreal tonight at home.
Here are the pre-game notes, courtesy of the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS at BUFFALO SABRES
Wednesday, Mar. 30, 7:00 p.m.
HSBC Arena • Buffalo, NY
Rangers: 41-30-5 (87 pts)
Sabres: 38-28-9 (85 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Mar. 28
The Rangers will face-off against the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena (7:00 p.m.), to begin a back-to-back set. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and seventh in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 41-30-5 (87 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Boston Bruins, 1-0, on Saturday at TD Garden to extend their season-high point streak to seven games (6-0-1), and are now 8-1-1 in their last 10 contests. The seven-game point streak is the longest for New York since last season from Dec. 31 to Jan. 12 (4-0-3), and their 23 road wins are the most for the Rangers since 1993-94 (24-16-2). The Sabres have posted a 38-29-9 (85 pts) record to rank eighth in the Eastern Conference. Following the contest, the Rangers will face-off against the New York Islanders on Thursday, Mar. 31, at Nassau Coliseum (7:00 p.m.), to close out their back-to-back set.
TV: MSG 2
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show with Bill Pidto and Pat LaFontaine
7:00 p.m. – Rangers at Sabres
Broadcasters: Sam Rosen (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), John Giannone (In-Game Reporter)
Radio: 970 The Apple and newyorkrangers.com
6:30 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show
7:00 p.m. – Rangers at Sabres
Broadcasters: Kenny Albert (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. SABRES:
- All-Time: 57-70-25-5 overall (33-27-15-3 at home, 24-43-10-2 on the road)
- 2010-11: Tonight is the fourth and final meeting this season, and the second of two at HSBC Arena. The Rangers own a 2-1-0 record thus far, including a 1-0-0 mark on the road. Their last two meetings were decided by one goal.
- Last Season: New York was 1-2-1 overall and 1-1-0 at Buffalo. Three of their four meetings were decided by one goal, including one that required overtime.
- The Rangers rank eighth with a 23-14-1 (47 pts) record on the road; the Sabres are tied for 21st with an 18-16-4 (40 pts) mark at home
- New York is 10-6-2 vs. the Northeast Division; Buffalo is 6-9-3 vs. the Atlantic Division
- Henrik Lundqvist is 8-7-2 with a 2.52 goals against average in 17 career regular season games vs. Buffalo
- Vinny Prospal has tallied a team-high, 12 goals and 30 points in 49 career regular season games vs. Buffalo; Bryan McCabe leads the team with 20 assists in 66 career regular season contests vs. the Sabres; Brandon Dubinsky has recorded 14 points (six goals, eight assists) in 13 career regular season games 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-13 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 Saturday at Boston, and are now 13-52 (25.0%) in their last 15 games. New York ranks 13th overall (48-270, 17.8%) and is tied for 17th on the road (20-127, 15.8%). The Rangers are 4-12 (10:42) in five-on-three situations (last – 3/20 at PIT), and 0-6 (8:36) when four-on-three (last – 3/24 vs. OTT). Shorthanded goals allowed (5): 11/20 at MIN (Cullen); 12/5 vs. OTT (Kelly); 1/2 at FLA (Weiss); 1/16 vs. PHI (Richards); 3/20 at PIT (Kunitz).
- Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts held the Bruins scoreless in one shorthanded situation (2:00) on Saturday at Boston. New York ranks 11th overall (206-247, 83.4%) and seventh on the road (111-132, 84.1%). 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 (11): 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); 3/15 vs. NYI (Prust).
- Four-on-Four: New York did not skate in a four-on-four situation on Saturday at Boston, and are now plus-four in 61, four-on-four situations (121:31). The Rangers are even in one, three-on-three situation (2:00) this season (2/17 vs. LAK). Four-on-four goals for (7): 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); 3/4 at OTT (Stepan); 3/6 vs. PHI (Zuccarello). Four-on-four goals allowed (3): 10/15 vs. TOR (Kessel); 1/1 at TBL (Thompson); 3/15 vs. NYI (Moulson).
The Rangers will begin their 17th of 18 back-to-back sets tomorrow at Buffalo. New York is 9-6-1 (3-2-0 at home, 6-4-1 on the road) in the first game of back-to-backs. The Blueshirts are 11-5-0 (4-2-0 at home, 7-3-0 on the road) in the second game this season, having out-scored their opponent, 43-26, in those games. Over the last two seasons, New York is 20-7-2 in the back-end of back-to-back sets, including an 8-3-1 mark at MSG and 12-4-1 on the road over the span.
The Blueshirts are the only team in the NHL who is undefeated when leading after two periods, posting a record of 27-0-0 in those contests. The Rangers rank fourth in the league with a plus-21 goal differential in the third period (80 goals for, 59 goals against).
THE PUCK STOPS HERE
Henrik Lundqvist was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week for the period ending Mar. 27 after posting a 2-0-1 record, 0.32 goals against average, .987 save percentage and two shutouts in three games. On Saturday, Lundqvist stopped 26 shots in a 1-0 victory at Boston to establish a new career-high with his league leading, 11th shutout of the season, while appearing in his 400th career game. His 11 shutouts are tied for second in team history for most shutouts in a season, and are the most by a Ranger since John Ross Roach posted 13 shutouts in 1928-29. Lundqvist also posted his 30th win of the season on Mar. 18 vs. Montreal to extend his NHL record by recording 30 or more wins in six consecutive seasons to begin his career, and extend his franchise record by posting his sixth straight 30-win season. Lundqvist has appeared in 20 straight games entering tomorrow’s contest at Buffalo (beginning on Feb. 11), which is one game shy of his career-high, 21-game streak from Dec. 23, 2006 to Feb. 15, 2007.
New York won its 40th game of the season with a 1-0 victory vs. Florida on Mar. 22. It is the fifth time in the last six years the Rangers posted 40 or more wins in a season, marking only the second time in franchise history the team accomplished the feat (1968-69 – 1973-74). The Blueshirts are one of five Eastern Conference teams to have registered at least five seasons of 40+ wins since 2005-06 (Montreal, New Jersey, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh).
Rangers’ forwards Ryan Callahan and Vinny Prospal rank first and second on the team in scoring, respectively, since returning from injury in early February. Callahan leads the team with 13 goals and 23 points in 23 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. Prospal leads the team with 12 assists and ranks second with 17 points in 22 games since he made his season debut on Feb. 3 vs. New Jersey after missing the first 53 games of the season with a knee injury.
Since acquiring defenseman Bryan McCabe on Feb. 26, the Rangers power play has tallied 10 goals in 44 attempts (22.7%) in 13 games. McCabe has registered five power play points (one goal, four assists) over the span.
COMPARED TO LAST SEASON…
The Rangers have posted seven more wins and nine more points compared to last season through 76 games (34-32-10, 76 points in 2009-10), having tallied 17 more goals (218 this season, 201 last season) while allowing 25 fewer goals against (181 this season, 206 last season). New York has also shown a six-goal improvement while shorthanded compared to 2009-10 (11 this season, five last season).
AMONG THE LEAGUE LEADERS
The Rangers lead the league in hits (2,164), are tied for fourth in goals against (181), fifth in road wins (23), 12th in goals for (218), rank second in players with at least one game-winning goal (18), fourth in blocked shots (1,213), shorthanded goals (11) and shootout wins (eight), and fourth with a plus-37 goal differential.
THE HOT LIST:
- Henrik Lundqvist is 8-1-1 with a 1.67 GAA, .942 Sv% and three shutouts in the last 10 games
- Ryan Callahan has recorded 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in the last 19 contests, including seven points (three goals, four assists) in the last six
- Artem Anisimov has tallied 10 points (four goals, six assists) in the last 10 games, including six points (two goals, four assists) in the last six
- Brandon Dubinsky has registered six points (two goals, four assists) in the last six games
- Vinny Prospal has tallied 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in the last 15 contests
- Marc Staal has recorded four assists in his last four games
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
- Henrik Lundqvist: 400th career NHL game (3/26 at BOS)
- Derek Boogaard (shoulder, 12/9) – 46
- Alex Frolov (knee, 1/8) – 33
- Chris Drury (knee, 2/4) – 22
- Martin Biron (fractured collarbone, 2/28) – 12
Total Man-Games Lost: 302
- Mar. 24 – Agreed to terms with free agent goaltender Jason Missiaen
- Mar. 29 – Agreed to terms with free agent forward Tommy Grant