So how was everybody’s Saturday night? What’s that? Carolina won? Montreal won? Buffalo got a Bettman Bonus Point?
Not so good, then, huh?
I thought, boy, the Islanders really did play hard against the Hurricanes; full marks to them, though you probably weren’t thrilled when Jack Capuano pulled his goalie. And the Capitals — with playoff positioning at stake — played very hard in coming back a bunch of times against the Baby Buffaloes … and tied it after pulling their goalie. And the Devils just laid down against Montreal, being mathematically eliminated along the way.
Well, we know this about your boys. They’re not going to back into the playoffs. They’re going to have to earn it in these last four games, starting today on NBC in Philly.
Want some good news (especially you, eric)? OK, Carolina plays Buffalo today. So that’s a good thing, as long as it’s not a three-point game. Not enough? OK, how about this: The Rangers are 14-5-2 in their last 21 games in Philadelphia. And the Flyers are without Chris Pronger, while the Rangers are without Mats Zuccarello, so that’s a wash.
The Rangers will need to win some games to get in, because, perhaps to our surprise, Buffalo and Carolina are closing unbelievably strongly. So today would be a good place to start. A good way to start to atone for that unacceptable, unforgivable performance on Long Island Thursday.
Some of you might want to watch away from sharp objects. Some might want to think about not watching at all.
As I said yesterday, let’s see what they got.
Here are the pre-game notes, courtesy of the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS at PHILADELPHIA FLYERS
Sunday, Apr. 3, 12:30 p.m.
Wells Fargo Center • Philadelphia, PA
Rangers: 41-32-5 (87 pts)
Flyers: 46-22-10 (102 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Apr. 1
The Rangers will begin their 18th and final back-to-back set when they face-off against the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center (12:30 p.m.), in the final road game of their 2010-11 regular season schedule. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Atlantic Division standings, and eighth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 41-32-5 (87 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having been defeated by the New York Islanders, 6-2, on Thursday at Nassau Coliseum, and are now 8-3-1 in their last 12 contests. The Flyers enter the contest with a 46-22-10 (102 pts) record to rank first in the Eastern Conference, and have lost three of their last four games. Following the contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Boston Bruins in an Original Six match-up Monday, Apr. 4, at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m.), to close out their back-to-back set.
* TV: NBC
12:30 p.m. – Rangers at Flyers
* Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
12:00 p.m. – Rangers Pre-Game Show
12:30 p.m. – Rangers at Flyers
Broadcasters: Don LaGreca (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)
RANGERS vs. FLYERS:
* All-Time: 109-107-37-7 overall (57-47-23-4 at home, 52-60-14-3 on the road)
* 2010-11: Today is the sixth and final meeting this season, and the third at Wells Fargo Center. The Rangers are 1-4-0 overall and 0-2-0 on the road. New York won their last meeting, 7-0, at Madison Square Garden on Mar. 6.
* Last Season: New York was 3-2-1 overall and 1-1-1 on the road. Five games were decided by two goals or less, including three that were decided by one.
* The Rangers rank eighth with a 23-16-1 (47 pts) record on the road; the Flyers rank 11th with a 21-12-6 (48 pts) mark at home
* The Rangers are 12-9-1 vs. the Atlantic Division; the Flyers are 16-4-2 vs. the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist is 15-10-3 with a 2.79 GAA and three shutouts in 30 career regular season appearances vs. Philadelphia; Chad Johnson has posted a 4.50 GAA in one appearance (no decision) vs. the Flyers
* Bryan McCabe has recorded a team-high, 33 assists and 39 points in 54 career regular season contests vs. Philadelphia; Vinny Prospal leads the team with 15 goals in 44 career regular season games vs. the Flyers
* New York lists four former Flyers on their roster: Martin Biron (2006-07 – 2008-09); Steve Eminger (2008-09); Ruslan Fedotenko (2000-01 – 2001-02); Vinny Prospal (1996-97 – 1997-98, 2007-08)
* Philadelphia lists four former Rangers on their roster: Blair Betts (2005-06 – 2008-09); Ian Laperriere (1995-96); Jody Shelley (2009-10); Nikolay Zherdev (2008-09)
The Blueshirts have posted a plus-12 rating on special teams (PPG+SHG minus PPGA+SHGA) this season, which ranks fifth in the league.
* Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in eight power play opportunities (12:43) on Thursday at Long Island, and are now 13-61 (21.3%) in their last 17 games. New York ranks 15th overall (48-279, 17.2%) and 21st on the road (20-136, 14.7%). The Rangers are 4-14 (12:08) in five-on-three situations (last – 3/31 at NYI), 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 Islanders scoreless in two shorthanded situations (4:00) on Thursday at Long Island. New York is tied for 12th overall (208-250, 83.2%) and ranks ninth on the road (113-135, 83.7%). 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 Thursday at Long Island, and are now plus-four in 62, four-on-four situations (123:31). 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).
IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA
The Rangers have posted a record of 14-5-2 (30 pts) in their last 21 games at Philadelphia, dating back to a 3-1 win on Mar. 27, 2004. Henrik Lundqvist has registered a career 7-4-1 mark in Philadelphia.
The Rangers will begin their 18th and final back-to-back set today at Philadelphia. New York is 9-7-1 (3-2-0 at home, 6-5-1 on the road) in the first game of back-to-backs. The Blueshirts are 11-6-0 (4-2-0 at home, 7-4-0 on the road) in the second game this season, having out-scored their opponent, 45-32, in those games. Over the last two seasons, New York is 20-8-2 in the back-end of back-to-back sets, including an 8-3-1 mark at MSG and 12-5-1 on the road over the span.
The Blueshirts are the only team in the NHL who are 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-20 goal differential in the third period (80 goals for, 59 goals against).
PLACE IN HISTORY:
* The Rangers’ 41 wins are tied for 11th most in franchise history, just one win shy of moving into a tie for eighth
* The Blueshirts’ plus-12 rating on special teams is tied for 16th in team history
* Henrik Lundqvist’s 33 wins are tied for ninth in Rangers’ history, and two wins shy of moving into a tie for seventh
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 GAA, .987 Sv% and two shutouts in three games. On Mar. 26, 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 established a new career-high by appearing in his 22nd consecutive contest (dating back to Feb. 11) on Thursday at Long Island.
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 26 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 18 points in 25 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.
COMPARED TO LAST SEASON…
The Rangers have posted five more wins and five more points compared to last season through 78 games (36-32-10, 82 points in 2009-10), having tallied 10 more goals (220 this season, 210 last season) while allowing 19 fewer goals against (188 this season, 207 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 (2,201), are tied for fifth in goals against (188) and road wins (23), rank second in players with at least one game-winning goal (18), fourth in blocked shots (1,235), shorthanded goals (11) and shootout wins (eight), and fifth with a plus-32 goal differential.
THE HOT LIST:
* Ryan Callahan has recorded 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in the last 21 contests
* Artem Anisimov has tallied 10 points (four goals, six assists) in the last 12 games
* Vinny Prospal has tallied 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in the last 17 contests
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
* Henrik Lundqvist: 400th career NHL game (3/26 at BOS)
* Derek Boogaard (shoulder, 12/9) – 48
* Alex Frolov (knee, 1/8) – 35
* Chris Drury (knee, 2/4) – 24
* Martin Biron (fractured collarbone, 2/28) – 14
Total Man-Games Lost: 310
* Mar. 29 – Agreed to terms with free agent forward Tommy Grant
* Apr. 1 – Assigned forward Mats Zuccarello to Connecticut (AHL)