Pre-game notes courtesy of the NYR:
NEW YORK RANGERS at TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS
Saturday, Mar. 24, 7:00 p.m.
Air Canada Centre – Toronto, ON
Rangers: 46-21-7 (99 pts)
Toronto: 33-34-8 (74 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Mar. 23
The Rangers will face-off against the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight at Air Canada Centre (7:00 p.m.; TV: MSG 2; Radio: Bloomberg Radio), in an Original Six matchup. The Blueshirts currently sit atop the Eastern Conference standings, and rank second in the league overall, with a record of 46-21-7 (99 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having been defeated by the Buffalo Sabres, 4-1, last night at Madison Square Garden, to complete their seven-game homestand with a 4-3-0 mark. The Maple Leafs enter the contest with a 33-34-8 (74 pts) record to rank 12th in the Eastern Conference, and have lost seven of their last 10 games. Following tonight’s contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, Mar. 27, at Xcel Energy Center (8:00 p.m.), to begin a back-to-back road set.
RANGERS vs. MAPLE LEAFS:
* All-Time: 219-272-95-6 overall (127-111-56-3 at home; 92-161-39-3 on the road)
* 2011-12: Tonight is the fourth and final meeting this season, and the second at Air Canada Centre. New York is 1-2-0 (0-2-0 at home; 1-0-0 on the road) following a 3-0 win on Jan. 14 at Toronto. Derek Stepan leads the team in scoring with three points (one goal, two assists). Henrik Lundqvist is 0-2-0 with a 3.59 GAA, while Martin Biron is 1-0-0 with a 0.00 GAA and one shutout.
* Last Season: New York was 3-0-1 overall (1-0-1 at home; 2-0-0 on the road). The Rangers out-scored Toronto, 14-5, including a 7-0 win on Jan. 19 at MSG when Marian Gaborik posted a five-point effort (four goals, one assist). Artem Anisimov tied Gaborik for the team lead with five points (one goal, four assists), and Brian Boyle tied for the team-high with four goals. Henrik Lundqvist was 2-0-1 with a 1.31 GAA, .958 Sv% and two shutouts, while Martin Biron was 1-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and .960 Sv%.
* New York ranks fourth with a 20-11-5 (45 pts) record on the road; Toronto ranks 27th with a 16-14-6 (38 pts) mark at home
* The Rangers are 9-7-1 vs. the Northeast Division; the Maple Leafs are 9-5-4 vs. the Atlantic Division
* New York lists two former Maple Leafs on their roster: John Mitchell (2008-09 – 2010-11); Anton Stralman (2007-08 – 2008-09)
* Toronto lists no former Rangers on their roster
INDIVIDUAL CAREER LEADERS vs. MAPLE LEAFS:
* Henrik Lundqvist — 19 GP, 9-6-4, 2.65 GAA, 2 SO
* Martin Biron — 32 GP, 14-11-2-3, 2.60 GAA, 2 SO
* Brad Richards — 33 GP, 16-15-31
* Marian Gaborik — 14 GP, 7-7-14
* Dan Girardi — 21 GP, 4-3-7
The Rangers’ power play is 5-23 (21.7%) in the last seven games, while the penalty kill has held opponents scoreless in nine of the last 12 games (30-33, 90.9%) and are 35-39 (89.7%) in the last 14 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 31-12-3 when not allowing a power play goal.
* Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in two power play attempts (4:00) last night vs. Buffalo. New York ranks 29th overall (36-247, 14.6%) and 26th on the road (15-111, 13.5%). 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 Sabres scoreless in one shorthanded situation (2:00) last night at MSG. New York ranks fifth overall (202-233, 86.7%) and fifth on the road (108-123, 87.8%). 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 skate in a four-on-four situation last night vs. Buffalo. 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 will complete their 13th of 14 scheduled back-to-back sets tonight at Toronto. New York has posted a combined record of 16-4-5 in back-to-back games, including an 8-2-3 (3-1-0 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. The Rangers’ final back-to-back set of the season is Mar. 27-28 at Minnesota and Winnipeg.
ORIGINAL SIX SHOWDOWN:
* The Blueshirts have skated in 12 of 15 scheduled games against Original Six opponents this season (6-6-0)
* Henrik Lundqvist is 5-4-0 with a 2.54 GAA and one shutout; Martin Biron is 1-2-0 with a 2.70 GAA and one shutout
* Marian Gaborik leads the Rangers in scoring against Original Six opponents this season with nine points
* Ryan Callahan is tied with Gaborik for the team-lead in goals (four), while Michael Del Zotto and Derek Stepan are tied with Gaborik for the team-lead in assists (five) against Original Six opponents this season
* Michael Del Zotto leads all team defensemen in scoring with seven points (two goals, five assists) against Original Six opponents this season
* New York has posted a record of 52-31-12 against Original Six teams since 2005-06, including a 15-8-4 mark vs. Toronto over the span. The Rangers’ .611 win% over the span ranks second, trailing Detroit (.660, 44-21-7), and ahead of Montreal (.608, 75-46-13), Chicago (.527, 34-30-11), Boston (.522, 62-56-20), and Toronto (.493, 57-59-18).
The Rangers completed their seven-game homestand with a 4-3-0 mark. The Blueshirts’ power play converted at a 21.7% success rate over the span (5-23). Henrik Lundqvist was 3-2-0 with a 2.35 GAA, while Martin Biron was 1-1-0 with a 3.50 GAA. Brad Richards led the team in scoring with five goals and 10 points, while Marian Gaborik (three goals, four assists) and Carl Hagelin (two goals, five assists) finished with seven points apiece. The seven-game homestand tied as the longest in franchise history, and was 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).
PLACE IN HISTORY
The Rangers’ .669 win% is the team’s best record through 74 games in 39 years, when the 1972-73 Blueshirts began the season with a 47-20-7 record (.682 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)
* 3rd in win% (.669)
* T-1st in wins (46)
* 1st in regulation/overtime wins (43)
* T-2nd in fewest regulation losses (21)
* 3rd in fewest goals against (160)
* 3rd in GAA (2.16)
* 1st in hits (2,182)
* 4th in blocked shots (1,204)
* 4th in +/- rating (plus-34)
* 6th in goal differential (plus-37)
* 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 .238 win% when trailing after two periods (5-15-1), and are tied for ninth in the NHL with five third period comeback wins
* New York leads the NHL with a .703 win% when out-shooting their opponent (26-10-1)
* The Rangers rank second in the league when scoring first, posting a 32-4-3 mark (.821 win%) in those contests
THE HOT LIST:
* Brad Richards — 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in the last 15 games; 12 points (six goals, six assists) in the last nine games
* Marian Gaborik — 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in the last 13 games; eight points (three goals, five assists) in the last eight games
* Carl Hagelin — 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in the last 15 games; seven points (two goals, five assists) in the last six games
* Michael Del Zotto — 10 assists in his last 18 games (six assists on game-winning goals over the span)
* Martin Biron — 1 game from 500 NHL career
* Michael Sauer (concussion, 12/5) — 50
* Steve Eminger (injured, 3/15) — 4
Total Man-Games Lost: 213