In case you missed it, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch did a Q&A with Rick Nash, who tonight plays his first game back in Columbus since demanding the July, 2012 trade that sent him to the Rangers for Brandon Dubinsky, Artem Anisimov, Tim Erixon and a first-round pick.
Pre-game notes courtesy of the NYR:
NEW YORK RANGERS at COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Friday, Mar. 21, 7:00 p.m. ET
Nationwide Arena – Columbus, OH
Rangers: 37-29-4 (78 pts)
Blue Jackets: 35-27-6 (76 pts)
The Rangers will face-off against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena (7:00 p.m. ET — TV: MSG Plus; Radio: Bloomberg Radio), in the first game of a back-to-back road set. The Blueshirts currently rank third in the Metropolitan Division standings, and seventh in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 37-29-4 (78 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having defeated the Ottawa Senators, 8-4, on Tuesday at Canadian Tire Centre, to begin a three-game road trip. The Blueshirts have won two of their last three games, including two straight on the road. The Blue Jackets have posted a 35-27-6 (76 pts) record to rank eighth in the Eastern Conference heading into their contest last night at Montreal, and had lost two of their last three games. Following tonight’s contest, the Rangers will return to action when they face-off against the New Jersey Devils tomorrow, Mar. 22, at Prudential Center (7:00 p.m.), to complete a back-to-back road set.
RANGERS vs. BLUE JACKETS:
• All-Time: 6-7-1-1 overall (3-2-1-1 at home; 3-5-0-0 on the road)
• 2013-14: Tonight is the fourth and final meeting this season, and the second and final meeting at Nationwide Arena. New York is 1-1-1 overall (0-1-1 at home; 1-0-0 on the road), following a 4-3 shootout loss on Jan. 6 at Madison Square Garden. The Rangers’ power play is 3-12 (25.0%) in the series, while the penalty kill is 7-7 (100.0%). Brad Richards leads all skaters with three assists, while Rick Nash and Carl Hagelin have notched a series-high, two goals apiece. Cam Talbot is 1-0-0 with a 1.67 GAA and .938 Sv% in two games, while Henrik Lundqvist is 0-1-1 with a 4.76 GAA.
• Last Season: Did not play. In 2011-12, New York was 1-0-0 overall (1-0-0 at home; 0-0-0 on the road), following a 3-2 overtime win on Feb. 19 at Madison Square Garden. Derek Stepan notched the game-winning goal 22 seconds into overtime, while Michael Del Zotto led all skaters with two assists in the contest. Henrik Lundqvist made 21 saves in the win.
• The Rangers have recorded points in five of their last seven meetings with the Blue Jackets (4-2-1), including two of their last three games at Columbus (2-1-0 in those games)
• The Blueshirts and Blue Jackets have been separated by two goals or fewer in each of their last five meetings, and in 12 of their 15 games all-time
• New York is 21-13-0 on the road; Columbus is 19-12-3 at home
• The Rangers are 12-11-3 vs. Metropolitan Division opponents; the Blue Jackets are 13-10-1 vs. Metropolitan Division opponents
• New York lists five former Blue Jackets on their roster: Derick Brassard (2007-08 – 2012-13); Derek Dorsett (2008-09 – 2012-13); John Moore (2010-11 – 2012-13); Rick Nash (2002-03 – 2011-12); Anton Stralman (2009-10 – 2010-11)
• Columbus lists three former Rangers on their roster: Artem Anisimov (2008-09 – 2011-12); Brandon Dubinsky (2006-07 – 2011-12); Fedor Tyutin (2003-04 – 2007-08)
INDIVIDUAL CAREER LEADERS vs. BLUE JACKETS:
• Henrik Lundqvist – 7 GP, 3-3-1, 3.06 GAA
• Brad Richards – 23 GP, 9-14–23
• Martin St. Louis – 14 GP, 7-7–14
• Dominic Moore – 14 GP, 1-8–9
• Dan Girardi – 8 GP, 2-3–5
• The Blueshirts penalty kill is 22-23 (95.7%) with four shorthanded goals in the last eight games
• Ranks eighth in the league in combined PP% + PK% (103.3%)
• Power Play: The Rangers were 0-3 (4:53) on Tuesday at Ottawa. New York ranks 12th in the NHL overall (43-226, 19.0%), and sixth on the road (25-107, 23.4%). The Rangers are 6-17 (8:07) in five-on-three situations (last – 3/7 at CAR), and 0-6 (6:56) when four-on-three (last – 1/19 vs. WSH). Shorthanded goals allowed (6): 10/8 at SJS (Vlasic); 10/24 at PHI (Read); 11/19 vs. BOS (Paille); 12/20 vs. NYI (Clutterbuck, PS); 12/20 vs. NYI (Grabner); 3/2 vs. BOS (Campbell).
• Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts were 1-2 (2:49) on Tuesday at Ottawa. New York ranks eighth in the NHL overall (172-204, 84.3%), and is tied for eighth on the road (91-108, 84.3%). The Rangers are 4-7 (6:27) in three-on-five situations (last – 3/7 at CAR), and 6-8 (6:06) when three-on-four (last – 1/21 vs. NYI). Shorthanded goals for (6): 10/7 at LAK (McDonagh); 12/27 at WSH (Hagelin); 1/19 vs. WSH (Callahan); 3/5 vs. TOR (McDonagh); 3/5 vs. TOR (D. Moore); 3/7 at CAR (McDonagh).
• Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in one four-on-four situation (1:07) on Tuesday at Ottawa. The Rangers are now -1 in 75 four-on-four situations (117:55), and even in one three-on-three situation (1:03) this season. Four-on-four goals for (7): 10/16 at WSH (J. Moore); 10/26 at DET (Brassard); 12/12 vs. CBJ (Girardi); 12/18 vs. PIT (Hagelin); 1/31 vs. NYI (Brassard); 1/31 vs. NYI (McDonagh); 3/7 at CAR (Nash). Four-on-four goals allowed (8): 10/3 at PHX (Vrbata); 10/7 at LAK (Muzzin); 10/12 at STL (Backes); 12/8 vs. WSH (Grabovski, PS); 12/18 vs. PIT (Sutter); 12/27 at WSH (Fehr); 1/6 vs. CBJ (Atkinson); 3/5 vs. TOR (Bozak).
• Scheduled to play in 13 back-to-back sets this season
• Combined record – 13-10-1
• Record in 1st game – 5-6-1 (2-2-1 at home; 3-4-0 on the road)
• Record in 2nd game – 8-4-0 (3-3-0 at home; 5-1-0 on the road)
• Last season – 7-4-1; 1st game, 4-1-1 (3-0-0 at home; 1-1-1 on the road); 2nd game, 3-3-0 (0-2-0 at home; 3-1-0 on the road)
• The Rangers are 18-9-5 in the first half of back-to-back games dating back to the start of the 2011-12 season, and 21-9-2 in the second game over the span
• Henrik Lundqvist has started on consecutive days 68 times in his career (41-20-7, 2.12 GAA, .928 Sv%, 6 SO in the 2nd game)
Henrik Lundqvist made 35 saves in an 8-4 win on Tuesday at Ottawa to become the franchise’s all-time wins leader with 302 career victories. He registered his 300th career win with a 30-save shutout, the 49th of his career, in the Rangers 3-0 victory over Detroit on Mar. 9 at Madison Square Garden. He became the 29th goaltender in NHL history to reach the 300-win mark, and is one of six active goalies with at least 300 wins. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Lundqvist is the fifth fastest goaltender to record 300 wins (560 games). He is now tied with Ed Giacomin for the franchise lead in career regular season shutouts (49).
New York has won 19 of their last 26 contests on the road, including a six-game winning streak from Jan. 4 – Feb. 7. The Rangers also won six straight on the road from Oct. 26 – Nov. 23, marking the first time the Rangers posted two separate six-game winning streaks on the road in a season. The Blueshirts are now 21-13-0 on the road this season, which leads the Eastern Conference and is tied for second in the league overall (road wins).
Ryan McDonagh has registered seven points (four goals, three assists) in the last nine games, a stretch that began with a career-high, three-game goal streak, and has logged 25:00+ of ice time in each of the last four games. He leads the Rangers and is tied for 14th in the NHL in average ice time (24:42), and ranks second on the team with 117 blocked shots. McDonagh notched a shorthanded goal in consecutive games on Mar. 5-7, to become the first Rangers player to record a shorthanded goal in consecutive games since Michal Rozsival on Nov. 17-19, 2007. He has also tied Brian Leetch’s single-season franchise record for most shorthanded goals by a defenseman with three shorthanded goals this season. McDonagh is tied for fifth in the league in shorthanded goals (three) and seventh in shorthanded points (four).
Rick Nash has posted four multi-goal performances and leads the Rangers with 22 goals this season. He has tallied at least 20 goals in each season since his rookie year in 2002-03 (17 goals), and is the only player in the NHL with an active streak of 10 straight 20-goal seasons.
THE HOT LIST:
• Henrik Lundqvist – Has held opponents to two goals or less in 14 of his last 21 games (14-6-1, 2.10 GAA, .932 Sv%, 2 SO), and is 4-2-0 with a 2.01 GAA, .937 Sv%, and one shutout in his last six contests
• Derek Stepan – Has recorded a point in nine of the last 11 games (three goals, nine assists), and 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in the last 21 contests
• Ryan McDonagh – seven points (four goals, three assists) in the last nine games
• Mats Zuccarello – Has tallied a point in nine of his last 13 contests (two goals, 10 assists), and has assists in eight of his last 12 games
• Carl Hagelin – four points (three goals, one assist) in the last three games
• Kevin Klein – four points (one goal, three assists) in the last five games
• Chris Kreider – four points (three goals, one assist) in the last six games
• Henrik Lundqvist – 1 shutout from 50th NHL career
• Brian Boyle – 3 points from 100th NHL career
• Ryan McDonagh – 3 points from 100th NHL career
INJURIES (102 Man-Games Lost):
• Mar. 17 – Agreed to terms with defenseman Ryan Graves
Photo by Getty Images.