Pre-game notes courtesy of the NYR:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. FLORIDA PANTHERS
Thursday, Mar. 21, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Rangers: 15-12-2 (32 pts)
Panthers: 8-16-6 (22 pts)
The Rangers will face-off against the Florida Panthers at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m. — TV: MSG Network; Radio: ESPN 98.7), in the first of two consecutive games at MSG against Southeast Division opponents. The Blueshirts currently rank second in the Atlantic Division standings, and rank eighth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 15-12-2 (32 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the New Jersey Devils, 3-2, on Tuesday at Prudential Center, to complete a sweep of their back-to-back set. The Blueshirts have won four of their last five home games. The Panthers enter the contest with an 8-16-6 (22 pts) record to rank 15th in the Eastern Conference, and have lost six of their last seven games. Following tonight’s contest, the Rangers will return to action when they face-off against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, Mar. 24, at Madison Square Garden (7:00 p.m.).
RANGERS vs. PANTHERS: – All-Time: 41-26-6-4 overall (21-13-4-0 at home; 20-13-2-4 on the road) – 2013: Tonight is the first of three meetings this season, and the first of two meetings at Madison Square Garden – Last Season: New York was 3-1-0 overall (2-0-0 mark at home; 1-1-0 mark on the road). The Rangers out-scored the Panthers, 14-6, in the series. The Blueshirts’ power play was 3-11 (27.3%), while the penalty kill was 15-16 (93.8%) in four games. Derek Stepan tallied series-highs in goals (three) and points (five) in four games, while Ryan McDonagh led all skaters with three assists. Henrik Lundqvist was 2-1-0 with a 1.34 GAA and .954 Sv%, and Martin Biron was 1-0-0 with a 1.89 GAA and .905 Sv%. – The Rangers have won eight of their last 11 games against the Panthers, having out-scored Florida, 31-16, over the span – New York is tied for ninth in the NHL with a 10-5-1 (21 pts) record at home; Florida ranks 24th in the NHL with a 4-8-1 (9 pts) mark on the road – The Rangers are 6-2-0 vs. the Southeast Division this season; the Panthers are 3-3-0 vs. the Atlantic Division this season – New York lists one former Panther on their roster: Steve Eminger (2008-09) – Florida lists one former Ranger on their roster: Alex Kovalev (1992-93 – 1998-99, 2002-03 – 2003-04)
INDIVIDUAL CAREER LEADERS vs. PANTHERS: – Henrik Lundqvist — 22 GP, 14-7-1, 1.74 GAA, 5 SO – Martin Biron — 22 GP, 8-12-1-0, 2.64 GAA – Brad Richards — 50 GP, 16-28-44 – Marian Gaborik — 19 GP, 7-8-15 – Derek Stepan — 8 GP, 5-2-7 – Michael Del Zotto — 11 GP, 1-3-4
The Rangers’ power play is 9-47 (19.1%) in the last 17 games, while the Blueshirts’ penalty kill is 52-60 (86.7%) in the last 20 games. New York has posted a record of 9-4-1 when not allowing a power play goal. – Power play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in two power play attempts (4:00) on Tuesday at New Jersey. New York ranks 26th overall (13-91, 14.3%) and 23rd at home (9-54, 16.7%). The Rangers are 2-8 (7:46) in five-on-three situations (last – 3/3 vs. BUF), and 1-1 (0:21) when four-on-three (last – 3/7 at NYI). Shorthanded goals allowed (3): 2/19 vs. MTL (Diaz, EN); 2/21 at OTT (Silfverberg); 3/3 vs. BUF (Gerbe). – Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts surrendered one goal to the Devils in four power play attempts (7:06) and notched a shorthanded goal on Tuesday at New Jersey. New York is tied for ninth overall (84-101, 83.2%) and 14th at home (50-59, 84.8%). The Rangers are 5-5 (5:52) in three-on-five situations (last – 3/10 at WSH), and 4-4 (4:24) when three-on-four (last – 3/18 vs. CAR). Shorthanded goals for (3): 1/20 vs. PIT (Nash); 3/12 at BUF (Stepan); 3/19 at NJD (Del Zotto). – Four-on-Four: New York did not skate in a four-on-four situation on Tuesday at New Jersey, and are now minus-1 in 20 four-on-four situations (39:13) this season. Four-on-four goals for (1): 1/23 vs. BOS (Gaborik). Four-on-four goals allowed (2): 1/20 vs. PIT (Letang); 1/23 vs. BOS (Horton).
The Rangers have posted a record of 21-5-2 in their last 28 games against Southeast Division opponents, including a 6-2-0 mark against the Southeast Division this season. The Blueshirts have out-scored their Southeast Division opponents, 91-56, over the span.
SAVING THE BEST FOR LAST
Rick Nash currently leads the team with 10 goals, having tallied his first eight goals of the season in the third period. Nash is the second player in NHL history whose first eight goals of a season were tallied in the third player, while fellow Ranger Arron Asham is the other to have accomplished the feat, in 2003-04, as a member of the New York Islanders.
GOAL SCORING LEADERS SINCE 2009-10
Marian Gaborik has been among the league’s goal scoring leaders since joining the Rangers in 2009-10. Last season, Gaborik became the fifth player in Rangers history to record 100 goals in his first three seasons with the club, and became the third Ranger in franchise history to register multiple 40-goal seasons with the team. Entering this season, his 105 goals from 2009-10 to 2011-12 ranked seventh in the NHL, while his .48 goals per game average ranked third (behind Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin) over that time period. Including games played this season, Gaborik currently ranks seventh in the league with 113 goals scored and is tied for fifth with .45 goals per game since the beginning of the 2009-10 season.
A BROADWAY HIT
The Rangers rank third in the NHL in hits (876) this season. Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan and forward Brian Boyle are tied for the team lead and ninth in the NHL with 98 hits apiece.
Rangers’ Head Coach John Tortorella is one win shy of earning his 400th career win as a National Hockey League head coach. He will be the 30th coach in league history to reach the mark. Tortorella’s 160 wins with the Blueshirts are four shy of Tom Renney for fourth on the Rangers’ all-time coaching wins list.
The Rangers rank among the Eastern Conference leaders in several statistical categories… – 3rd (4th in NHL) in GAA — 2.34 – T-3rd (T-8th in NHL) in FO% — 51.2% – 1st (T-2nd in NHL) in Fewest PIM/G — 10.4 – 2nd (3rd in NHL) in Hits — 876 – 5th (7th in NHL) in Blocked Shots — 465 – T-2nd (T-5th in NHL) in OT wins — 2
QUICK HITS: – The Rangers did not surrender a power play opportunity against on Mar. 7 at Long Island, marking the first time the Blueshirts did not have a shorthanded situation in a game since Jan. 10, 2012, in a 2-1 shootout win vs. PHX. The last time the Rangers did not allow a power play attempt against the Islanders was Jan. 7, 1989, in a 5-1 win at Long Island. – The Blueshirts have had 13 players make their regular season debut with the team this season – The Rangers’ power play is 9-47 (19.1%) in the last 17 games – The Blueshirts’ penalty kill is 52-60 (86.7%) in the last 20 games – New York has registered a point in nine of 11 games when scoring the first goal this season (8-2-1), and are 7-10-1 when allowing the game’s first goal – The Blueshirts have posted a 6-0-1 mark when leading after the first period, and are 8-0-0 when leading after the second period
THE HOT LIST: – Henrik Lundqvist — has held opponents to three goals or fewer in each of his last 10 games (6-4-0, 1.99 GAA, .931 Sv% over the span) – Rick Nash — has tallied a point in 11 of his last 15 games (eight goals, nine assists over the span) – Derek Stepan — has tallied a point in nine of the last 11 games (five goals, six assists over the span) – Ryan Callahan — eight points (four goals, four assists) in the last nine games, including a point in five of the last six contests (two goals, three assists) – Carl Hagelin — 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in the last 19 games, including six points (one goal, five assists) in the last eight contests
MILESTONES IN SIGHT: – Ryan Callahan — 1 assist from 100th NHL career – Steve Eminger — 3 points from 100th NHL career – Rick Nash — 1 goal from 300th NHL career; 1 game from 700th NHL career – Brad Richards — 3 points from 800th NHL career – Marc Staal — 3 points from 100th NHL career – Anton Stralman — 3 points from 100th NHL career – John Tortorella — 1 win from 400th NHL career
MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED: – Michael Del Zotto — 100th career NHL point (3/19 at NJD)
INJURIES: – Michael Sauer (concussion, 12/5/11) — 29 – Arron Asham (injured, 2/19) — 14 – Marc Staal (injured, 3/5) — 8
Total Man-Games Lost: 74
RECENT TRANSACTIONS: – Mar. 20 — Recalled forward Chris Kreider from Connecticut (AHL) – Mar. 20 — Assigned forward Micheal Haley to Connecticut (AHL)