Don’t forget the 12 noon Live Chat. Please do whatever you need to do to join us for our intellectual conversation, plus gibberish, about tonight’s game, the homestretch of the season, the season to date, the playoff race, and the playoffs.
Wasn’t around much yesterday. Spent the better part of the day in a critical meeting with Mr. Titleist at Mr. Green’s office (Centennial Golf Club in Carmel). First such meeting of the year. Might have another one in the future at some point.
Pre-game notes courtesy of the NYR:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. BUFFALO SABRES
Friday, Mar. 23, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Rangers: 46-20-7 (99 pts)
Sabres: 35-29-10 (80 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Mar. 21
The Rangers will face-off against the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.; TV: MSG 2; Radio: AM1600 WWRL), to close out their seven-game homestand. The Blueshirts currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings, and rank second in the league overall, with a record of 46-20-7 (99 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Detroit Red Wings, 2-1, in overtime on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden, and are now 4-2-0 on their current seven-game homestand. The Sabres enter the contest with a 35-29-10 (80 pts) record to rank ninth in the Eastern Conference, and have won four of their last six games. Following the contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday, Mar. 24, at Air Canada Centre (7:00 p.m.), in an Original Six matchup.
RANGERS vs. SABRES:
- All-Time: 60-71-25-5 overall (34-27-15-3 at home; 26-44-10-2 on the road)
- 2011-12: Tonight is the fourth and final meeting this season, and the second at MSG. New York is 3-0-0 (1-0-0 at home; 2-0-0 on the road) following a 3-2 overtime win on Feb. 25 at MSG. The Rangers have out-scored Buffalo, 8-3, in the series, including a 5-1 advantage in the third period and overtime. Carl Hagelin leads the Rangers with three goals and four points, while Michael Del Zotto has tallied a team-high, three assists. Henrik Lundqvist is 2-0-0 with a 0.94 GAA, .963 Sv% and one shutout, and Martin Biron is 1-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .970 Sv%.
- Last Season: New York was 2-2-0 overall (1-1-0 at home; 1-1-0 on the road). Three of their four meetings were decided by one goal, including a 3-2 overtime win on Nov. 11 at MSG. Artem Anisimov led the team in scoring with four points (three goals, one assist) in the series, while Ryan Callahan and Dan Girardi tied for the team-high with three assists apiece. Henrik Lundqvist was 1-2-0 with a 2.37 GAA and .928 Sv% in three games, and Martin Biron was 1-0-0 with a 1.95 GAA and .935 Sv% in one game.
- Eight of their last 11 meetings have been decided by one goal, including four that required overtime
- Ryan Callahan has notched the game-winning goal in each contest against Buffalo this season, including the game-deciding goal in the Rangers’ 1-0 shootout win on Feb. 1
- New York ranks fourth with a 26-9-2 (54 pts) record at home; Buffalo ranks 20th with a 16-18-2 (34 pts) mark on the road
- The Rangers are 9-6-1 vs. the Northeast Division; the Sabres are 5-9-3 vs. the Atlantic Division
- New York lists one former Sabre on their roster: Martin Biron (1995-96 – 2006-07)
- Buffalo lists no former Rangers on their roster
INDIVIDUAL CAREER LEADERS vs. SABRES:
- Henrik Lundqvist — 20 GP, 10-8-2, 2.27 GAA, 1 SO
- Martin Biron — 14 GP, 9-3-0-1, 2.68 GAA, 2 SO
- Brad Richards — 33 GP, 9-19-28
- Brandon Dubinsky — 17 GP, 6-8-14
- Michael Del Zotto — 9 GP, 0-5-5
The Rangers’ power play is 5-21 (23.8%) in the last six games, while the penalty kill has held opponents scoreless in eight of the last 11 games (29-32, 90.6%) and are 34-38 (89.5%) in the last 13 contests. The Rangers are tied for seventh in the NHL with seven shorthanded goals. The Blueshirts have posted a record of 22-1-4 in games when tallying a power play goal, and are 31-11-3 when not allowing a power play goal.
- Power Play: The Rangers tallied one goal in three power play attempts (4:28) on Wednesday vs. Detroit. New York is tied for 28th overall (36-245, 14.7%) and ranks 23rd at home (21-134, 15.7%). 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 held the Red Wings scoreless in one shorthanded situation (2:00) on Wednesday at MSG. New York ranks fifth overall (201-232, 86.6%) and sixth at home (93-109, 85.3%). 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 tallied one goal in one four-on-four situation (2:42) on Wednesday vs. Detroit. The Rangers are plus-seven in 78 four-on-four situations (140:31), and even in two three-on-three situations (0:38). Four-on-four goals for (10): 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); 3/21 vs. DET (Callahan). Four-on-four goals allowed (3): 2/9 vs. TBL (Lecavalier); 2/25 vs. BUF (Stafford); 3/2 at TBL (Malone).
The Rangers have played 12 of 14 scheduled back-to-back sets. New York has posted a combined record of 16-3-5 in back-to-back games, including an8-1-3 (3-0-0 at home, 5-1-3 on the road) record in the first game and an 8-2-2 (6-0-0 at home, 2-2-2 on the road) mark in the second. Since 2009-10, New York is 29-10-4 in the second game of back-to-backs, with a 15-3-1 mark at MSG and 14-7-3 on the road over the span. Henrik Lundqvist has started on consecutive days 57 times in his career, posting a record of 36-14-7 with a 1.82 GAA, .935 Sv% and six shutouts in the second game.
- New York is 4-2-0 on their current seven-game homestand
- The Rangers’ are 5-21 (23.8%) on the power play
- Henrik Lundqvist is 3-1-0 with a 1.95 GAA; Martin Biron is 1-1-0 with a 3.50 GAA
- Brad Richards leads the team in scoring with five goals and 10 points
- Marian Gaborik (three goals, four assists) and Carl Hagelin (two goals, five assists) have registered seven points apiece
- 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’ 26-9-2 (54 pts) mark at MSG is their best record at home through 37 games since 1991-92 (25-8-4, 54 pts).
PLACE IN HISTORY
The Rangers’ .678 win% is the team’s best record through 73 games in 39 years, when the 1972-73 Blueshirts began the season with a 47-19-7 record (.692 win%), and is the fourth 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.
The Rangers rank among the NHL leaders in several statistical categories…
- 2nd in points (99)
- 1st in win% (.678)
- T-1st in wins (46)
- 1st in regulation/overtime wins (43)
- T-1st in fewest regulation losses (20)
- 3rd in fewest goals against (156)
- 3rd in GAA (2.14)
- 1st in hits (2,155)
- 4th in blocked shots (1,187)
- 4th in +/- rating (plus-37)
- T-5th in goal differential (plus-40)
- The Rangers became the first Eastern Conference team, and second in the league overall, to clinch a playoff spot with a 4-2 win on Monday vs. NJD (game #72); The last time the Blueshirts clinched a playoff berth that early was in 1991-92, when New York clinched on March 8 (through game #68) following a Philadelphia defeat to Vancouver
- This is the latest the Rangers have been in first place of the Eastern Conference standings since the team captured the Presidents’ Trophy during the 1993-94 season. *courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau
- New York is 18-2-3 when leading after the first period and 28-0-3 when leading after the second
- The Rangers rank third in the league with a .250 win% when trailing after two periods (5-14-1), and are tied for ninth in the NHL with five third period comeback wins
- New York leads the NHL with a .722 win% when out-shooting their opponent (26-9-1)
- The Rangers rank second in the league when scoring first, posting a 32-4-3 mark (.821 win%) in those contests
THE HOT LIST:
- Henrik Lundqvist — Has held opponents to two or fewer goals in each of the last three games, posting a record of 2-1-0 with a 1.65 GAA and .926 Sv% over the span
- Brad Richards — 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in the last 14 games; 12 points (six goals, six assists) in the last eight games
- Marian Gaborik — 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in the last 12 games; eight points (three goals, five assists) in the last seven games
- Carl Hagelin — 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in the last 14 games; seven points (two goals, five assists) in the last five games
- Michael Del Zotto — 10 assists in his last 17 games (six assists on game-winning goals over the span)
- Dan Girardi — three points (one goal, two assists) in the last five games
- Martin Biron — 1 game from 500 NHL career
- Michael Sauer (concussion, 12/5) — 49
- Steve Eminger (injured, 3/15) — 3
Total Man-Games Lost: 211