Penguins at Rangers tonight

270

Pre-game notes courtesy of the Rangers:

NEW YORK RANGERS vs. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Thursday, Mar. 15, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Rangers
: 44-18-7 (95 pts)
Penguins: 42-21-5 (89 pts)

* All information through NHL games on Mar. 13

TONIGHT’S GAME:
The Rangers will face-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.; TV: MSG Network; Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio), in an Atlantic Division match-up. The Blueshirts currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings, and rank second in the league overall, with a record of 44-18-7 (95 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Carolina Hurricanes, 4-2, on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden for their sixth consecutive home win, and are now 15-6-3 in their last 24 games. The Penguins enter the contest with a 42-21-5 (89 pts) record to rank fourth in the Eastern Conference, and have won their last nine games. Following the contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, Mar. 17, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.), in the fourth game of their seven-game homestand.

RANGERS vs. PENGUINS:

  • All-Time117-99-23-8 overall (65-47-9-3 at home; 52-52-14-5 on the road)
  • 2011-12: Tonight is the fifth of six meetings this season, and the third and final at Madison Square Garden. New York is 2-2-0 overall (1-1-0 at home; 1-1-0 on the road) following a 2-0 loss on Feb. 21 at CONSOL Energy Center. The Rangers have out-scored the Penguins, 6-3, in second periods. Brad Richards leads the team in scoring with two goals and four points, while Henrik Lundqvist is 2-2-0 with a 2.28 GAA and .931 Sv%.
  • Last Season: New York was 4-1-1 overall (1-1-1 at home; 3-0-0 on the road). The Rangers power play was 7-22 (31.8%) in the season series, while the penalty kill was 20-22 (90.9%). New York out-scored Pittsburgh, 21-15, including a 10-4 margin in the third period and overtime. Ryan Callahan led the Rangers with five goals, nine points, four power play goals and three game-winning goals in six games, while Brandon Dubinsky tallied a team-high, six assists in the season series. Henrik Lundqvist was 4-1-1 with a 2.29 GAA and .926 Sv%.
  • The Rangers have registered at least one point in nine of their last 12 games against the Penguins (7-3-2 over the span), and have won four of their last six meetings
  • New York ranks fifth with a 24-7-2 (50 pts) record at home; Pittsburgh ranks eighth with an 18-13-3 (39 pts) mark on the road
  • The Rangers are 13-5-2 vs. the Atlantic Division; the Penguins are 8-7-0 vs. the Atlantic Division
  • New York lists two former Penguins on their roster: Ruslan Fedotenko (2008-09 – 2009-10); Mike Rupp (2009-10 – 2010-11)
  • Pittsburgh lists one former Ranger on their roster: Pascal Dupuis (2006-07)

INDIVIDUAL CAREER LEADERS vs. PENGUINS:

  • Henrik Lundqvist — 42 GP, 22-15-5, 2.40 GAA, 2 SO
  • Martin Biron — 33 GP, 13-15-3-2, 2.98 GAA, 2 SO
  • Brad Richards — 31 GP, 8-24-32
  • Marian Gaborik — 22 GP, 9-11-20
  • Brandon Dubinsky — 30 GP, 7-12-19
  • Dan Girardi — 34 GP, 1-10-11

SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Rangers penalty kill has held opponents scoreless in five of the last seven games (20-22, 90.9%), and are 25-28 (89.3%) in the last nine contests. The Rangers are tied for sixth in the NHL with seven shorthanded goals. The Blueshirts have posted a record of 20-1-4 in games when tallying a power play goal, and are 29-10-3 when not allowing a power play goal.

  • Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in three power play attempts (4:52) on Tuesday vs. Carolina. New York ranks 28th overall (34-233, 14.6%) and 22nd at home (19-122, 15.6%). The Rangers are 3-15 (11:31) in five-on-three situations (last – 3/13 vs. CAR), and 2-9 (12:08) when four-on-three (last – 3/11 vs. NYI). Shorthanded goals allowed (3): 12/5 vs. TOR (Steckel); 12/8 vs. TBL (Moore); 12/17 at PHX (Korpikoski).
  • Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts surrendered one goal to the Hurricanes in four shorthanded situations (6:09) on Tuesday at MSG. New York is tied for fifth overall (192-222, 86.5%) and sixth at home (84-99, 84.8%). The Rangers are 8-9 (4:34) in three-on-five situations (last – 2/16 vs. CHI), and 2-3 (2:24) when three-on-four (last – 2/16 vs. CHI). Shorthanded goals for (7): 10/20 at CGY (Prust); 12/8 vs. TBL (Anisimov); 12/10 at BUF (Hagelin); 12/10 at BUF (Callahan); 12/20 at NJD (Hagelin); 1/6 at PIT (Dubinsky); 2/12 vs. WSH (Prust).
  • Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in one four-on-four situation (1:01) on Tuesday vs. Carolina. The Rangers are plus-six in 75 four-on-four situations (133:49), and even in two three-on-three situations (0:38). Four-on-four goals for (9): 10/18 at VAN (Gaborik); 10/20 at CGY (McDonagh); 10/27 vs. TOR (Girardi); 1/2 vs. FLA (Gaborik); 2/9 vs. TBL (Stepan); 2/9 vs. TBL (Richards); 2/14 at BOS (Anisimov); 2/19 vs. CBJ (Stepan), 2/25 vs. BUF (Callahan). Four-on-four goals allowed (3): 2/9 vs. TBL (Lecavalier); 2/25 vs. BUF (Stafford); 3/2 at TBL (Malone).

HOMESTAND NOTES:

  • New York is 2-0-0 on their current seven-game homestand
  • Henrik Lundqvist is 1-0-0 with a 2.77 GAA; Martin Biron is 1-0-0 with a 2.00 GAA
  • Brad Richards leads the team in scoring with four goals and six points
  • Marian Gaborik has tallied a team-high, three assists, along with two goals
  • The seven-game homestand is tied as the longest in franchise history, and is their longest since 2001-02
  • The Blueshirts’ previous seven-game homestands were in 1969-70 (4-0-3-0), 1972-73 (4-3-0-0), 1977-78 (3-3-1-0), and 2001-02 (3-2-1-1)
  • The Rangers are one of five teams with a homestand of seven or more games on their 2011-12 regular season schedule (Winnipeg – 8, Colorado – 8, Tampa Bay – 7, Vancouver – 7)

HOME SWEET HOME
The Blueshirts’ 24-7-2 (50 pts) mark at MSG is their best record at home through 33 games since 1993-94 (23-6-4, 50 pts).

FAMILIAR FOE
The Rangers are 13-5-2 against Atlantic Division opponents this season, including a nine-game winning streak from Nov. 15 –Jan. 6. New York has out-scored their opponent, 57-43, in divisional play.

SIBLING RIVALRY
Rangers’ defenseman Marc Staal has faced off against his younger brother, Pittsburgh forward Jordan Staal, 24 times in his career, amassing an 11-11-2 record with eight points (two goals, six assists) and 26 penalty minutes. Jordan has registered a 13-6-5 mark with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) and 24 penalty minutes.

PLACE IN HISTORY
The Rangers’ .688 win% is the team’s best record through 69 games in 39 years, when the 1972-73 Blueshirts began the season with a 44-18-7 record (.688 win%), and is tied as the third best mark in franchise history. The Rangers reached the 40-win mark in 61 games, which is tied as the second fastest to 40-wins in franchise history.

MEASURING UP
The Rangers rank among the NHL leaders in several statistical categories…

  • 2nd in points (95)
  • 2nd in win% (.688)
  • T-2nd in wins (44)
  • T-1st in regulation/overtime wins (41)
  • T-1st in fewest regulation losses (18)
  • 2nd in fewest goals against (145)
  • T-2nd in GAA (2.10)
  • 1st in hits (2,047)
  • 4th in blocked shots (1,128)
  • 4th in +/- rating (plus-40)
  • 6th in goal differential (plus-42)

QUICK HITS:

  • This is the latest the Rangers have been in first place of the Eastern Conference standings since the 1995-96 season, when New York held the top position through games played on Mar. 15, 1996 (NYR game #68). *courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau
  • New York has registered at least one point in 46 of their last 61 games (41-15-5), dating back to Oct. 29, after beginning the season with a 3-3-2 mark
  • New York is 17-2-3 when leading after the first period and 27-0-3 when leading after the second
  • The Rangers rank second in the league with a .278 win% when trailing after two periods (5-12-1); The Blueshirts are tied for ninth in the NHL with five third period comeback wins, and have trailed entering the third in only 18 games this season (second fewest in the NHL)
  • New York leads the NHL with a .727 win% when out-shooting their opponent (24-8-1)
  • The Rangers lead the league when scoring first, posting a 31-3-3 mark (.838 win%) in those contests; Their 31 wins are tied for second in the NHL

THE HOT LIST:

  • Brad Richards — four-game point streak (five goals, three assists over the span); 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in the last 18 games; 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in the last 10 games
  • Marian Gaborik — three-game assist/point streak (two goals, four assists over the span); 30 points (11 goals, 19 assists) in the last 27 games; 11 points (five goals, six assists) in the last eight games
  • Carl Hagelin — 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in the last 14 games; 10 points (four goals, six assists) in the last 10 games
  • Dan Girardi — three assists in the last six games
  • John Mitchell — two assists in the last three games
  • Derek Stepan — six points (two goals, four assists) in the last eight games
  • Anton Stralman — four assists in his last six games

INJURIES:

  • Michael Sauer (concussion, 12/5) — 45
  • Michael Del Zotto (injured, 3/8) — 3
  • Ryan Callahan (injured, 3/9) — 2
  • Henrik Lundqvist (flu, 3/13) — 1

Total Man-Games Lost: 199

RECENT TRANSACTIONS:

  • Mar. 11 — Recalled forward Mats Zuccarello from Connecticut (AHL)
  • Mar. 13 — Recalled goaltender Chad Johnson from Connecticut (AHL) on an emergency basis; Returned to Connecticut later in the day

 

 

 

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270 Comments

  1. 2nd!

    Obviously not a “must game” but a very big one indeed.

    Wish Cally and MDZ were playing.

    Hope they knock that pansy on his ass! Not looking forward to the Cindy love fest.

    LGR!!!!!

  2. I’m also hoping they knock that pansy on his arse! I’m not looking forward to the new “rules” that will apply to Cindy now.

    Two minutes for skating near Cindy.
    Two minutes for looking at Cindy without bowing first.
    Two minutes for blocking Cindy’s shot and hurting his self esteem.

    I wonder if any team will really be able to play against them with Cindy in the line up.

  3. Winston: If there are calls employing the “cindy rules” the Garden will ERUPT! I think that could backfire on the Pens and fire up the Rangers as a team.

    The Rangers should shadow him in my opinion. Don’t give him any space at all. And then knock him on his pansy arse!

  4. Wonder if HOckey’s darling realizes or even is aware of the animus toward him that exists ( Wha…..you thought that Ranges are the only bunch who think these thoughts?) I bet every other team in the league , but mostly in the east are waiting to get an opportunity to wrinkle his little aplomb a bit.

  5. Just trying to catch up after returning from a 12 day trip to Israel with s side visit to Jordan. Coming back over the Jordan border cruising I met an ex-pat living in Israel the last 10 years who is a big Rangers fan. Made sure he was aware of this blog in order for him to get a better pulse of what’s going on . . . . or maybe not.

    I was able to follow somewhat certainly trusting Carp’s reviews over everything else.i must say especially to.the international bomeheads that it’s a real challenge to follow NHL hockeytom and live a normal life considering for.starters the time difference and the lack of mainstream TV coverage (i guys having a good dish would be essential).
    Anyway, back and ready to jump back in with all the Cindy hoopla as icing on the welcome home.

    LGR

  6. BTW…do you suppose that there is a camera somewhere that can remain focused on Bettman’s face for the entire game?

  7. Ulfie,glad you are back safely. But when I had to fly into iraq, jordan sided with the enemy and did not let us use thier airspace. I should have dropped bombs in there too.

    LGR

  8. Staal Wart and the Overachievers on

    Wonder if the rangers will call up some low level goaltender so Cindy looks real good an scores a few goals in his ” debut”

  9. My sources report that there will be a ceremony before tonights game where the name of the Pittsburgh franchise will be officially changed to Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penquins.

  10. Kill Crosby. maim Malikin. skin Cooke set him alight and throw his body into the Hudson, and slap Mario just for the heck of it. Isolate Pitttsburgh so they get no coverage of tonight’s game. No tv, no radio, no internet. All they get is to see ambulances returning to Pittsburgh with broken bodies. (That’s right, impound their plane too).

    When the night is over we will count their dead and toast our victory with Prime Rib Sandwiches.

  11. billybleedsblue on

    BANJ — WOW. WERE WE SEPARATED AT BIRTH? I had a similar verbal rant the other night. The look on my friend’s faces was priceless. Hahaha, and how does MARY-O get away with just a slap? :D

  12. HageLinMcCalPruBoylahan on

    BIGGEST GAME OF THE YEAR!!!!!!!!!!! MUST WIN ALL FACEOFFS!!! MUST SCORE ON ANY POWER PLAYS AWARDED TO US, NOT MATTER HOW SHORT!!!!! TORTS MUST WEAR THE SWEATER VEST!!!!! BEWARE OF FRANKENSLEWFOOTMALKENSTEIN!!!!!!!!!!!!! EF THE REFS!!!! LETS PENS BODIES HIT THE FLOOR!!!!!!!!!

    LETS GO RANGERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    by the way, Crosby turned over in his sleep last night and hit his head on his pillow, out until October!!!!!!!!!

  13. Bettman announced that the Empire State Building will be lit with black and yellow lights in honor of Hot Dog Lips return.

  14. saying on ESPN that Crosby woke up, got up, thought he stubbed his toe in a HUGE effort to get out of bed, but he is….ok…..phew…what an effort by him….. went to the bathroom….welll….no report there…and emerged from it! Wow, Is he amazing?? or what?? They will have live updates on Hockey Night in Canada through 46 private webcams in his hotel room.

    Stay tuned!!!!

  15. I’m hoping Cindey does a ‘Carmelo Anthony’ to Malkin and has hissy fits all over the ice when he doesn’t get the puck often and immediately.

    Coach gets fired in a week.

  16. I am happy that Ulfie 28 is back. I sent a copy of his travel sched to the Muslim Brotherhood. But I guess they didn’t get it. Prediction…Cyndi Slewfoot will draw a penalty tonight, and we will see overtime.

  17. Remember a couple seasons ago when Dubi called Cindy a baby, or something to that effect in an after game interview? One of my favorite Dubi moments…

  18. Good morning, boneheads!

    Kill everyone? Wow, you’re in some mood this morning.
    It should be a great game, that’s all I care about.

    Now, question. Since -VS- er NBCSN picked up the game, does MSG still carry it, or is it now NBCSN exclusive? I’m guessing MSG still carries the game, but not sure. I need to know which channel to set up my Slingbox for. Thanks.

    Off to play tennis.

  19. CraigWeather on

    I heard they’re going to light one side of the Empire State Building Black, Yellow and White for the Penguins while the other side is Red for Cindy’s hot dog lips…..

  20. Only Eric can make a four point lead for first place in the conference sound like Muckler and Tom Poti are coming back to run the team.

  21. Eric just understands the difference between 4pts and 8pts better than the rest of us. Maybe he sees everything the way Neo sees The Matrix?

  22. Also – I used to think that “eric” and “Eric” were two different E(e)rics. Now I know better.

  23. DuBeliveau,

    I used your advice and when i was asked if anyone had helped pack my bags I replied “Mohammed”. You said it would help me get through the line quicker. It did becuase I did not stand on THAT line very long after that answer.

    Meanwhile, DuB. . ., I see your boy, the punching bag as he was called by my Jordanian cab driver, had a 3-0-1 record with him in the lineup and 0-3-0 without. He MUST be the difference.

  24. True Blue Mike (Del Zotto's Swagger) on

    I am in first in my fantasy league and have Letang and Crosby coming back from injury tonight.

  25. Yes Ulfie. It is clear that you “get it”. Dubi = Con smythe. I just hope he either gets lessons from Pruster, or keeps his gloves on. Dubi’s 2 best fights were vs Cyndi and Ovechkin. A slight win with Cyndi and a draw with Ovi.

  26. True Blue Mike (Del Zotto's Swagger) on

    Doodie play fantasyfeud with me. Go to fantasyfeud.com and make an account and join the NHL Pro Pickem game that has 3 of 10 people in it so far. It’s free and Wolski plays it!

  27. Just watched The Goon.

    Totally amped for tonight’s game.

    Will fight anyone here to win the heart of the local slut!

  28. Good morning, Carp!

    Dubinsky calling Crosby a baby is #5 on my Top Ten Dubinsky Moments list. Also, he’s lived in NYC for like 5 years, is this the first time he’s woken up at 9:00am? —–>

  29. Sather said Pissies with Cindy and Letang back are the best team in a League. I substantially lower my expectation for today’s game and all I want from it now is just not to be embarrassingly high in scores difference. Does it make me defeatist and croaker? Pink Party pacifist?

  30. Hey BANJ – there is this amazing band called “Sweatpant Boners.” You might like them if you’re spouting off about the ease of local women. Their first, and most hilarious, album is called, “Save Your Virginity Until We Come to Your Town.”

    Sadly, they and their hilarious songs like, “Pee with your father”, are long gone.

    http://www.myspace.com/thesweatpantboners

  31. Hey Carp, any reaction yet to my question about what the Rangers Schedule might look like now that the NHL has cancelled opening next season in Europe in regards to the MSG renovations?

    @@

  32. Guess the huge media turnout is at the Garden for “The Vagina Monologues” also known as Sidney’s press conference.

    Wait, did I actually write that or was I just thinking it? I’m sorry. That’s so unlike me.

  33. Good morning all! Very psyched about another night at the Garden!!!!!
    Latona, thanks for the link yesterday, but it wouldn’t open….:(

    LGR!!!!!

  34. From the NYP article:

    The NHL has already advanced the Devils close to $10 million.

    ***

    Brodeur can eat for the rest of the month!

  35. CT, fyi, we’ll be at the Puck pre-game tonight…..hopefully meeting C3 too! Oh joy!!

  36. DuBeliveau,
    Just to let YOU know, there is a shrine to Dubinsky in the Christian quarter of Jerusalem where he is known as the patron saint of underachievement. The statue depicts him with 2 blackened eyes throwing what appears to be a stick (not his, of course) and a befuddled look on his face.

    Meanwhile, scuttlebutt from the Holy City has Kreider as this year’s Playoff Messiah.

  37. Actually these are two big points but its the six out of the next seven games against non-playoff or bubble teams that will go the fuirthest towards winning the conference. Colorado, Buffalo, Winnipeg, Minnesota, Montreal, Toronto – get 9 or 10 points out of those games and Pittsburgh will have to do more than just beat us twice in regulation to win the whole thing.

  38. If this was a playoff game sure cally and mdz would play. this is as much of a must win as a game in January against CBJ.

  39. Cant predict what will happen tonght obviously but one thing I will say is that in every “big game” so far this year, every “showdown” with Boston, every Winter Cklassic lead-in game against Philly and the Classic itself, every game like that, this team finds a way to win. Just sayin’….

  40. Everyone is tweeting their brains out that Biron was first off the ice. Does that usually mean he will start?

  41. Ulfie…You will not see Kreider this year, barring serious injuries. Dubi has suffered greatly both emotionally and physically. I call it the PASSION OF DUBI. In the movie starring Mel Gibson, Dubi rises from the dead and leads the Rangers to the promised land.

  42. Peter – Yes, first goalie off gets the start. Hank could just be getting extra work or a end up being a game time decision but as of now it doesn’t seem like he is going to be in net tonight.

  43. Biron in against the Pens? Nothing against Marty…but there goes our shot at winning this game. Gonna be bad enough with all the salivating over Cindy (I’m sure Sam and Joe are going over just how they have to mention him every thirty seconds whether he’s on the ice or not)…I can see the Pens picking apart Marty’s 5-hole.

    I’m hoping for a tough, hard fought game to show the Pens that the Rangers’ season hasn’t been a fluke. But without Cally, DZ or Hank…we’re already behind the eight ball.

    But, stranger things have happened

  44. cam bam connor on

    heres hoping cooke cuts across the middle and blindsides cindy tonight, a la mike keane on pat lafontaine…. sorry carp, had to go there

  45. so how bad is Cally injured? This starting to look like the end of last season for him…blocked shot, missed the rest of the year.

  46. They should tell Biron that Hank is starting. Then make an emergency call up. Then shove Biron in there. Just like the Carolina -Panthers- Hurricanes game. He was good under those circumstances.

  47. CJP,
    Since I understand the game will be dual broadcasted, you can just listen to Doc on VS-NBCSN laud over his Eminence, Mr Pickle Lips, instead. Difference will be the number of syllables used.

    If there is a silver lining about tonite’s game it’s the fact that it’s the first back after sizeable layoffs for 2 (albeit very good0 players. Cast your lot with the varying theories on this situation and its impact on team chemistry and individual performance (rust, adrenalin, etc.). it’s a crap shoot on how this will affect the outcome. I personally like what I’m hearing from the Ranger camp from Slats (they are the better team) down the line on the approach to the game. I’m glad they are playing as opposed to the fan base.

  48. They would announce if Callahan was going to be out indefinitely. He said he was feeling better every day just not there yet. I’m sure he would be playing if this was a playoff game. No need to play on with an injury and risk making worse. Kinda like driving on a flat tire and destroying the rim in the process.

  49. >>…(I’m sure Sam and Joe are going over just how they have to mention him every thirty
    >>seconds…

    How about we start sending some hints to the MSG crew on twitter [#NYR]?

  50. Doodie,
    What about Norm?
    Another hit to the head and Cindy might start channeling the double-talking comic.

  51. So the big thing is the impact on the standings, right? Because I sure as hell am not going to be discouraged if the Pens beat us when 3 of our best players (our best, one of our 5 best, and our top offensive defenseman) are out with illness/injury. Just not.

  52. Peter,
    Nor should you be totally encouraged with a Ranger victory, although 1st place divisional seeding (which translates to first place overall in the EC) does have possibly a slight advantage.
    It still comes down to the playoffs, which, with Cindy’s return, has increased to the entertainment level, and the unknown).

  53. The best (living) musical Crosby is still David. The real question is whether Cindy has more usable brain cells working than David. Could be close.

  54. Ulfie,

    This year, I look at first place as actually something significant. Because the playoffs are a crapshoot and the Rangers have been in first for so long, I think it may be bad for them not to finish there. By the same token, I think being first will ultimately match them up against Florida, whom I expect to be overtaken by the Caps for first in the Southeast, which could really favor our boys. Finishing fourth gets us a date probably with Philly and frankly the way Bryzgalov is playing right now and the way Henke has been playing of late I am not crazy about that matchup.

  55. Ask the Caps how nice their Eastern Conference Regular Season Champions banners look.

    Ask last seasons’s 3rd seeded Bruins how nice their Stanley Cup banner looks.

  56. exactly, CTB.

    Good morning, Sally!

    sorry, but i have no idea, Winston. i only know that 12-13 will begin with a lot of road games.

  57. I hate it when ESPN decides to write about hockey these days:

    http://espn.go.com/nhl/gameoftheweek/_/page/gameoftheweek_031512/pittsburgh-penguins-new-york-rangers

    ***

    I sent that article to a friend of mine along with the following thoughts:

    Honestly, the Pens have more to prove than the Rangers. Everyone expects them to romp through the East now that they have their full squad back. Crosby has to prove that he’s healthy enough to last this time or there will be serious questions about the longevity of his career. Even with missing a bunch of guys last year they still blew a 3-1 series to the Lightning and lost game 7 at home. The year before, when they had both Crosby and Malkin they were upset by the Habs. On paper they should have had more than one Cup by now but every time I hear about that their team should be penciled in as the East’s winner I think back to those Avs teams in the 90s. Sakic and Forsberg (who at their primes were better than Crosby and Malkin), Roy, a strong supporting cast, physical players, etc…all that talent and they got only 2 Cups out of those teams. The Rangers were supposed to be slightly better than a playoff bubble team this year, the Pens are supposed to be a dynasty on hold.

  58. Playoff seeding means next to nothing to me. The only thing that matters is the CUP. No matter where you finish you still have to go through the tough teams to get there. As cliche as it is, once the playoffs start any team can win it all. Getting bounced in the 1st round or the 3rd round is all the same to me; a good showing but ultimately a failure.

  59. I don’t think it really matters Lloyd. If we don’t have confidence that they can matchup with two teams with very obvious and exploitable flaws then why even pay attention to the playoffs?

  60. if this was the playoffs henrik would be out there with an IV. keep game 71 in perspective…

    this is a marathon not a sprint……..

    the ranges obviously are not at full strength tonight but you will neve rknow on the national teleecasts because the rangers are noise in the background for the Cindies………

  61. CTB:

    Probably because the Rangers have their own obvious and exploitable flaws and may matchup better with certain teams than others.

  62. Are the Caps and the Phlyers really _that_ much different Lloyd? They both have unpredictable goaltending (both teams have had to sit their “starters”), they both have high flying scorers that you have to shut down and they both has shallow, very shallow defense. The only difference is that Lavi-eau-de-toilette thinks he can beat us physically into submission and the Caps think they can score us into submission.

  63. Malkin and Crosby / Biron’s five-hole as big as the Lincoln Tunnel.

    can’t wait to see how this ends…

  64. Doodie, I am no longer a member of the PHWA, and therefore I don’t really care about their silly awards. … just kidding. But, no I don’t know. Won’t matter. I doubt they have a nominee who can win.

    Marc Staal, maybe? Who else has had to persevere? None of them are old enough to have persevered.

  65. Lloyd,

    The Rangers biggest flaw is probably their lack of top end scoring. I don’t see Philly or the Caps as having the shutdown D or goaltending to fully exploit that.

  66. CT – I just don’t really see the difference between the two teams. Aside from Claude Giroux being better than Ovechkin.

  67. Wicky©No pears, No apples, Where's my pineapple?! on

    morning ILB and all!!

    This is a huMAINgous two points (not really, I just wanted to type that word)!

    So John Scott dressing and getting first line minutes?

    I’d personally like to see mcilrath get a few games in on D at the end of the season (for a totally random statement)!

    Not sure if I have asked this before, but has anyone seen the movie 5 Days of War? It’s very good!!

  68. Does that make Avery the Coleman Hawkins of Hockey? And further, does that make Hagelin the Charlie Parker?

  69. Tiki XLII XLVI on

    Even if we sweep the season series over the Flyers, you cant assume anything in a playoff series. Humangous could catch fire or still be on fire from his current shutout streak. The playoffs are a crapshoot, anybody is capable of winning, just gotta get hot at the right time, and have a goalie that gets hot.

  70. Wicky©No pears, No apples, Where's my pineapple?! on

    isn’t throwing your skates in the Hudson littering?? I wonder if Avery has received a ticket for that yet?

  71. CTB:

    The Capitals worry me. They are a talented team, and if they hit their stride even a little bit, they’ll be dangerous. As far as the goaltending, Vokoun is a good goalie regardless of how he’s underachieved. And if it isn’t him, we’ve seen the Rangers not fair well against Neuvirth in the past either. Which brings me to my other worry, and that’s recent history. That the Rangers have not fared particularly well against Washington in the postseason in recent years worries me. A big part of that is that it’s extremely hard to shut down a guy like Ovechkin for four or more games no matter how good your defense is. We’ve seen in those recent postseason series that he eventually finds a way to break through and make himself a factor.

    Look, should the Rangers beat the Capitals? Sure. I just worry about a team that’s underperformed all year hitting their stride late. In my opinion, they’re going to win that division anyway so it probably won’t even matter but I don’t think they’ll go down easily against whoever they play.

  72. Sorry William, I said Winston when answering your question earlier. But I have no idea what the schedule will look like with no Euro(pansy) trip. Only that it will mean a lot of road games to start.

    So, are the Rangers holding Callahan out because they fear Skid will slew-foot him again?

  73. The first round is always a minefield anyway. I don’t think there will be an easy opponent for anybody. Look how many seven-gamers there were last year … somebody google it?

  74. i did … of eight first-round series, four went seven, two went six. The only easy outs were the Rangers and Coyotes, and the Rangers — with Avery, Wolski, Drury, Christensen, McCabe, one-legged Prospal, et al, could have easily tied that series 2-2 in Game 4.

    So, it doesn’t matter.

  75. Yea – it really doesn’t matter. Weren’t the Caps really on fire the year that they went up 3-1 and then we swept them out?

  76. when was the last time the Rangers beat the Capitals in a post-season series? ’94?

  77. The only 1st round I see that you could make the argument for being an easier opponent would be Florida but even they have the possibility of having a dominant scoring line. Although goaltending will probably be their achilles heel. The level of play for each team just sky rockets come playoff time. Which is why playoff hockey is the most exciting thing in sports…..imho.

  78. Florida and Winnipeg are both great matchups for the Rangers. I’d be surprised if either of them won more than a game.

  79. Lloyd

    Wolski is being productive…that’s all i am sayin’…

    Meanwhile in New York, Dubinsky has 1 goal and one point since Wolski joined Florida.

  80. Oh, so looks like Hank is not well enough yet and the Pens get their full squad tonight. Good, let’s see what we can do.

    So, does anyone know if the game is on MSG and NBCSN, or just NBCSN?

  81. Ruslan Fedotenko has 7 points in the last 41 games he’s played. Would you swap him for Wolski?

  82. if there’s a positive spin to be put on this Biron situation, it’s that Lundqvist will almost certainly not start more than 61 games this season. So he should be reasonably well rested for the playoffs.

  83. Thanks, 1940. I saw that. My only worry is if NBCSN makes it an exclusive game and blacks MSG out

  84. A victory would be all the sweeter tonight. Backup goalie, missing team captain and top 3 D-man. This is their type of game. Gut it out with character.

  85. The website is usually on point with the coverage in my experience, can’t recall a time they had it wrong but thats just me.

  86. Sorry, Tiki. Not us personally but didn’t the Caps have a “ranger-esque” loss similar to the one they put on us? Like a year earlier? Maybe I am mixing it all up

  87. No before. Maybe it was the year they had the #1 seed and lost to the Habs. I will look it up and stop just stabbing in the dark. My memory is hazy now that I am “26”

  88. Tiki XLII XLVI on

    Ok, Manny. Just *disunderstood* LOL! I think they got swept away by the Lightning last year.

  89. Thanks Carp… Winston made me laugh, I knew you were talking to me though. lol

    I really feel like the Rangers need that first (maybe second as well) goal tonight… and stay out of the bucking fox. Of course you can say that about ANY game of the 82+, but tonight it’s specifically important.

    I still think that regardless of Biron off first, there’s still a chance Lundqvist makes the start… we’ll see…. but Biron in goal and the Rangers taking too many minors is a recipe for disaster.

    I have confidence in Biron, but the Pens are going to be shooting for the moon tonight!

    Hope we come out flying!

    @@

  90. Manny:

    Pretty sure they were up 3-1 against Montreal in 2010 before losing three straight.

  91. Manny-A Bean and Bird reference on a hockey board? I’m floored. BRich as “Prez” b/c of the way he wears his hat??

  92. William:

    They recalled Chad Johnson. So unless the Rangers are planning on scratching Biron for the hell of it and letting Johnson be the back up, I don’t think we’ll be seeing Lundqvist tonight.

  93. T w/Ms Mgill on

    the rangers need to turn this one into a knickle fest in order to will tonight. we need to beat the hell out of them. MAKE SIDNEY CRY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  94. Also, Andrew Gross tweets, “Lundqvist says laying in bed past two days, doing nothing, is not conducive to conditioning. Wants to give it another day.”

  95. Lloyd – As someone who lives in DC and watches the Caps regularly I can tell you they are playing a much more balanced game as opposed to the last few years when they have been all about offense.

    OV has quietly come on and is at 30 goals again and is finding his game again, which spells bad news for a team that faces them in the playoffs.

    But in the end I haven’t seen the consistency from them all season, and they play in a lousy division.

  96. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Crosby better poop before tonight’s game is I have to say.

    Except, recall Avery.

    Must win game.

    Put chad’s Johnson between the pipes. 2 pipes and a Johnson can stop nearly anything.

  97. Pens went without Letang and Cindy and still put together a great run….. we should expect the same without Cally and MDZ.

    Prust is gonna plaster Cindy..

  98. vogs:

    do you give them a legitimate chance in a 7-game series against the Rangers?

  99. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Even though Avery is a little angry at the NYR organization, it does look like he will enter the Hall of Fame wearing the broadway blue.

  100. According to that hack from the Sun, everyone should bow down to crosby b/c of his umpteenth comeback. we were there already this year, remember? we had to deal with his first one of this year. what about all the other concussed players, shouldn’t they be given the same respect? they never are, and they never will be. crosby should be treated exactly the same way. wonder how long it will take him to complain about something tonight.

    we have three KEY players out tonight, including the best goalie in the world. they have pretty much their whole lineup intact for the first time in a while. let’s hope they really bring it tonight and we are there to match them all the way and come up with the win. LGR!!!!!!

  101. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Carp – serious question. If Avery unretires, whose spot does he take next year? And could see him getting first line minutes?

  102. Alan:

    I don’t think there’s any doubt Tortorella made sure he had his jerk hat on before making those comments but yeah, why the hell should the coach of the Rangers be signing the praises of Sydney Crosby? Last I checked, we’ve dealt with pretty much everyone drooling all over the guy for the past several years. Is that not enough? Should the coach of the team they’re battling with for the conference title say, “We’re really glad he’s back and because he’s so great, I kind of hope we lose?” Enough of the love fest.

  103. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Ranger penalty, number 8, Brandon Prust. 2 minutes for looking at Crosby. Time of the penalty 0:00 of the first period.

  104. Rangers need to dress Lin and maybe have Peyton in the crowd to combat the Cros-fest.

  105. Rangers have what, 1 goal in their last 2 game vs the Pens. I’m more concerned about them putting the puck past Fleury.

  106. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Syd the skid, look what he did
    In his stance, he pooped his pants
    He jumped for joy
    Like a little boy
    And said I should drink milk and not soy.

  107. what worries me about Biron tonight – besides the chasm between his legs – is that he’s not made two starts in three days since February 2011. he had a nice start against Carolina, but has been shaky for most of 2012 and now is expected to put up another good start with less rest than he’s had in over a year. it’s a rough spot.

  108. The more Biron plays, the better he becomes. Rust goes off, confidence and old natural skills comes back.

  109. wonder if NBC will track Crosby’s presence on the ice with a yellow glow around him.

    the NHL is so desperate for some superstar face to have mass appeal, but the truth is that no one outside the hockey fan base gives a crap.

  110. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Ranger penalties:

    Brandon Prust 4 minute double minor – looking at Crosby.

    Mike Rupp 10 minute misconduct, game misconduct, 6 minute triple minor – for wanting to check Crosby really really hard.

    Brandon Dubinsky – 5 minute major, 10 minute misconduct, game misconduct, season misconduct, and banned for life – for muttering “Crosby is a chicken carcillo”

    Time of the penalties 20:00

  111. Lloyd-Hopefully like a lot of goalies with the more work comes a better performance on the ice. Hope Girardi keeps the gaffes to a minimum. None at all would be preferable.

  112. Wounded Rangers against healed, full roster Pisses. Nice disadvantage to see what our guys are made of.
    Increasing success by lowering expectations!

  113. Alan:

    We’ll see and I hope he can meet the challenge. I thought he good, not great against Carolina and hasn’t played particularly well for a while. He’s got a big opportunity to swing a lot of support his way tonight.

  114. CT, and e3, actually 20:00 is the end of the period.

    When prust does his staged fights, the time of penalty is 0:03. And when the asshat Lucic started that ruckus, the penalties were at 20:00.

    ilb, almost certain this is not an exclusive NBC game. They would have changed it to 7:30 if it were.

  115. Eddie Eddie Eddie on

    Every morning at the rink, you would see the little dink
    Stood 6ft nothing weighed 145
    Kinda narrow at the shoulder narrow at the hip
    Every one knew you give no lip, to lil skid

    Lil skid, lil skid, what a little skid

    Lips like a blimp shaped like a hot dog
    Dazed and confused always in a fog
    The savior of hockey is what they say
    Hope he never gets hurt is what they pray

    Then came that day out on the ice
    His noodle as tender as uncle ben’s rice
    My head hurts alot he did scream aloud
    Like a little woman, he wasn’t very proud

    The players all gathered as he lay there still
    NHL brass was soon in a chill
    What to do they wanted to know
    Someone get a shovel maybe a hoe

    Bury his assen in the ground
    Do it quickly – don’t make a sound
    At the bottom of this ice all that ego and Id
    Lies a weeny if a man – Sid the skid

    Lil Sid, lil sid, oh what a skid

  116. Doodie Machetto March 15th, 2012 at 2:07 pm
    Does Lundqvist have Penguins Flu?

    Nope… it’s Crosby Fever.

  117. Man you guys have to calm down about “coming after Crosby.” This isn’t war. It’s a hockey game. Just shut him, Malkin, Benn, etc. and Letang down with our stellar defense and try to win. The Penguins have many threats. Let’s not get to hung up on one player.

  118. all jokes aside, I genuinely fear for Crosby’s welfare at this point. given what put him out last time and the severity of the symptoms he’s dealt with, I don’t know how the guy is going to be able to play much longer. it’s not like the brain develops a resistance to concussions the more times they happen.

  119. ilb.,
    According TW both channels will broadcast NBCSport *AND* MSG, so, no black out. I know, you switched, but logically it should be just fine with yours. Choose…

  120. eddie eddie eddie on

    CT – i thought the time of the penalties was 0:00. you are terrible with numbers. i bet in your job you never never ever ever look at numbers…

  121. Wicky©No pears, No apples, Where's my pineapple?! on

    ok aasens, off to a long work day/night so………

    LGR and LGD!!!!

  122. Eddie,
    A combination of being mathematician, avid chess player, poet and hockey aficionado make you insanely close to Renaissance men and make me justly proud to post my drizzle thoughts at the same page with yours.

  123. Lloyd – If the Rangers sh*t the bed I do, but I think Buffalo still has a shot to take the 8th spot, along with FLA and the Caps will win their division.

    So we’ll see FLA or Buf.

  124. eddie eddie eddie on

    celebrity death match : John scott vs Skid crosby

    “a big hard right hand, oh no, crosby’s head just exploded all over the ring”

  125. Wicky©No pears, No apples, Where's my pineapple?! on

    damn a laurel…I actually think the pens might be a little worse for a game or two with sid back and the circus that comes along with it! I would rather play them with him in the line up than without him (I think)!

  126. eddie eddie eddie on

    4ever – i am probably the most brilliant, handsome, debonair, charismatic, person in the milky way galaxy.

  127. vogs:

    yeah, I’d be shocked if anyone other than Washington won that division. how’s Vokoun playing lately?

  128. eddie eddie eddie on

    CTB – Re: the clock – i always liked the bigger hand more than the little hand……freud mentioned this in his opus on size

  129. Doodie Machetto on

    Carp and ilb:

    Look at the post from today. It has the broadcast info on it.

    “TONIGHT’S GAME:
    The Rangers will face-off against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.; TV: MSG Network; Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio), in an Atlantic Division match-up. “

  130. Right, Eddie, and not knowing one thing about applied mathematics, I’m sure that my probability to achieve any success, to stay anywhere close to you, asymptotically approaches absolute zero. My envy is harder than numerical analyses in differential equations.

  131. eddie eddie eddie on

    4ever – especially if you use Euler’s method as opposed to Runge-Kutta ….but it sounds like your limit of understanding is on par with mine :)

  132. eddie eddie eddie on

    4ever – one last thought…as you i know, as long as there is an underlying symmetry in our problem we can always get an analytic solution…..the real world, however, isnt so kind…….then we go numeric :) :)

  133. so a few weeks back I said Dubinsky would finish the season with 35 points. the problem is to get there now he’d have to put up 9 points in the last 13 games. is there any way he does this? bear in mind he’s got 2 points in the last 13 games he’s played.

  134. Does it really make a difference to you Lloyd? We get it you don’t like Dubinsky. You pay an awful lot of attention to a player you don’t like.

  135. When I said that, I thought he’d be a lock for 35 points. He’s had a couple of decent stretches where he put up like 9 points in 11 and a stretch of 9 in 13, but he’s got 5 total points in his last 25 games. Honestly, even I didn’t expect he’d tank this much.

  136. oleo:

    very hard to feel too good about it, that’s for sure. have the Rangers allowed more that 4 goals this season?

  137. on the plus side Richards, Gaborik and Hagelin will get a chance to do their thing again

  138. Any word on whether cally, del z and Hank are playing tonight? Just got a last minute ticket so pumped!

  139. Lloyd Braun

    only when you count the skills competition but me thinks that ends tonight. Biron did just play his best (and maybe only good) game of 2012 but that was against a soft Carolina team.

    We are going to need Biron plus a shutdown game from our D, which really haven’t seen in a while…

  140. oleo:

    I feel like Pittsburgh has a lot more going for them in this game than do the Rangers and will be way way up for it. They’re getting probably the most recognizable player in the sport back along with their best defensemen. Granted, they’re both made of porcelain at this point, but that has to be an incalculable lift to a team that’s already won 9 straight without 2 of their best players. The Rangers on the other hand, are lacking three of their best players and starting Martin Biron. They haven’t played particularly well lately and are coming off ok wins against two teams at the bottom of the conference. I don’t like this matchup one bit.

  141. CT:

    Any serious discussions about points at this point are, obviously, about whether the Rangers finish first in the conference. And I’d think any sane person would it consider it something worth shooting for. Right now, the Rangers are 6 points up on Pittsburgh. They lose tonight, that’s as good as 2 points with the game in hand Pittsburgh has. So, yes, those two points against Carolina are meaningful in that respect.

  142. I read the other day Pittsburgh was practicing there 5 on 3 power play. Of course they were, they know that the zebras are going to give the pens a 5 on 3, especially if the rangers are leading by a goal in the third period. Plus Crosby back in tonight will be crying all night to the refs. Expect the pens to have allot of power plays.

  143. Maybe it’s just this cup of steaming coffee but I don’t think that the Penguins are going to get handouts from the league or get penalties handed to them just because Sidney is back. No conspiracies.

  144. Doodie Machetto on

    I expect to see two slew foots tonight between Malkin and Crosby. Whether it’s one from each or two from one, there will be at least two.

  145. So if I’ve got the choice of which broadcast to watch, do I opt for one that fixates entirely on Crosby in a sycophantic manner that you would find unimaginable…or do I ignore MSG and watch NBC or the Pens’ coverage?

  146. Doodie Machetto March 15th, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    I expect to see two slew foots tonight between Malkin and Crosby. Whether it’s one from each or two from one, there will be at least two.

    ======

    I am thinking 4 total. Malkin has been known to slew 2 a minute.

  147. LW3H March 15th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    So if I’ve got the choice of which broadcast to watch, do I opt for one that fixates entirely on Crosby in a sycophantic manner that you would find unimaginable…or do I ignore MSG and watch NBC or the Pens’ coverage?

    =====
    Mute the TV and listen to the radio feed, hoping that it’s in synch with the game?

  148. I feel there is a mood of defeat and surrender on this blog today. C’mon, people, look at today’s game like at the limped boxer sparring with a healthy partner in heavier weight category. It is just training, where one occasionally nice and precise punch could show partner his place in a corner. It’s only (growing) pain…

  149. Lloyd,

    I consider myself a pretty sane person. I just don’t think #1 in the conference means as much as most people here do. Barring the Rangers going 0 for the rest of the season in these next dozen or so games, I’m not going to consider the Penguins catching up to the Rangers (if it does happen at all) to be some catastrophic end to the season or doom the Rangers playoff chances. I’d honestly like to revist everyone’s pre-season predictions and see how many people placed the Rangers as 1st in the East, 1st in the Atlantic or even top 4 in the East.

    Even without Crosby, and assuming all their other top guys are healthy, the Pens are a more talented team than the Rangers. At this point they’re going on some pretty insane hot streak over the last 20+ games. The Rangers haven’t played overly poorly these last 10 or so games, the Pens have just been better which most objective people would predict more often than not.

  150. CT – don’t forget that 4th in the Atlantic would also mean 2nd in points in the Eastern Conf.

    Oh wait…you didn’t. In that case I second your point!

  151. Too bad Cally, our leader, is not here tonight, because the leaders like him inspire by example. But when that’s not an option, brute intimidation works pretty well too. So, start to build anger, my friends!

  152. CTB

    if the Rangers finish 1st in the conference that means the Rangers will in all likelihood avoid Boston, Pitt and the 3rd best team in the division until the conference finals.

    Would you rather face 8th seed Florida and 6th seed Ottawa/NJ or 5th seed Philly and 2nd seed Boston???

  153. I just got tickets to the first home game in the playoffs.
    It’s very important to me that the first home game is at the same time I’m in NY.
    I need the Rangers to finish in the top 4

  154. oleo,

    Considering they have losing records vs OTT and NJ and are 8-0 vs Boston and Philly, I’m not so sure the 2nd scenario is the worst of the 2.

    And at this point I’d be worried if I was a Boston fan given how much they’re going to have to overwork Thomas to maintain the lead in their division since Turco is probably not going to provide them any relief. Thomas has always had a lesser load than other top goalies in the league, partially because of his age and partially because Rask has played like a 1A goalie the last few years. But there’s a good chance he’ll be gassed by the time they play a round.

  155. As much practice as crosby has had over the last few weeks, he’s still not game tested. the pens have been rolling without him. you can’t discount someone coming into the lineup, playing fairly big minutes, and possibly disrupting the chemistry that’s developed in his absence. at least that’s what i’m hoping for! I don’t think any of the media outside of nyc think we’re gonna win this one.

    but, i still think we win the biggest game of the year on the national stage (yup, bigger than the WC, imo).

  156. CTB:

    It’s too late in the season to use the “no one gave us a shot” argument, though. When you’ve been the top team in the conference for this much of the season, and you’ve got so many people buying into the line about the Rangers being the team to beat, it’s no longer just about getting into the playoffs. Is it a catastrophe if the Rangers don’t win the conference? No, but it’s not fair to basically state that nobody expected us to be in here so wherever we finish is fine. I do believe this team has a bright future and some of the young players like Stepan and Hagelin will most likely get even better. But when you’re 6 points up in the conference in mid-March you’re also pretty heavily “bought in” to the present, too. You don’t maintain a lead for this long and then don’t drop it without some emotional toll, I don’t care how much the team has overachieved this year.

  157. drop it…not don’t drop it…lol

    again, I’m going to say the Rangers are dead and buried if they end up 4th in the conference, but it does taint the season a bit if that happens.

  158. CTB

    how you fare against a team during the regular season means nothing when it comes to the playoffs.

  159. What taints the season more, getting the 1st seed and losing in the first or second round or getting the 4 seed and losing in say the conference finals?

    Look at the playoff history since the league went to the current format (94), especially from the East, the #1 seed doesn’t guarantee anything.

  160. Agree there is _some_ importance to finishing first, given that the 4/5 matchup is basically a 2/3, but finishing second in the division isn’t a season-ruining choke job either.

    Particularly if it’s at least in part due to the other team, dislikable as it is but generally acknowledged to be a Cup favourite, winning nine or ten straight while the Rangers are hitting a bit of a rough patch for about the first time all year.

  161. Ria(the silent bonehead) on

    Well said Tony they have to lose sometime so why not start their losing streak tonight ! LETS GO RANGERS!!!!!!!!!!

  162. LW,

    That’s my point, the Rangers have collected 13 out of their last 20 points. That’s not that far off from their overall points %.

    The Pens have just played out of their minds for the last 20 or so games. There’s not much the Rangers can do about that.

  163. CT:

    I think if you’re the Rangers, you’d much rather play Florida, Buffalo or Winnipeg than any of the other potential teams. You’re more likely to get any one of them finishing first than not.

  164. ESPN is saying Crosby expects to play about 15 minutes tonight. In other words, Brian Boyle minutes.

  165. CTB

    how you fare against a team during the regular season means nothing when it comes to the playoffs.

    ***

    So I won’t be disappointed if say one of those potential 8th seeds (that the Rangers have winning records against) beat them in the 1st round?

    Are there a lot of things that can happen in a best of 7 series that might not accurately represent true differences between two teams? Sure, but I don’t think you’re going to find many happy people around here if the Rangers lose to Philly or Boston due to how well they’ve played against those 2 teams this year.

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