Rangers @ Blues
Scottrade Center, 8:00 p.m., Saturday
Rangers record: 23-15-3 (Note: Stats exclude the game against Dallas tonight. The preview for the Stars game can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/23dl58b)
Blues record: 20-13-6
Just past the midway point of the season, the Rangers will head to St. Louis after tonight’s game in Dallas to take on the St. Louis Blues. The Rangers will barely have time to roll out of bed tomorrow morning before making the trip for the second game of their two-day road trip.
The Blues currently sit at seventh in the Western Conference, which is identical to the Rangers in the East. St. Louis entered the New Year with a five-game winning streak, but followed up these important wins with a loss to the Dallas Stars and an overtime loss to the Leafs on Thursday night. Jaroslav Halak was replaced in net by Ty Conklin for the second time this season after giving up four goals on nineteen shots. Reminiscent of the gold medal game in this year’s World Juniors Championship, the Blues went on to rally from a three-goal deficit with goals from Brad Winchester, captain Eric Brewer, and Matt D’Agostini. The surge of offense was enough to earn the Blues a point, but they were unable to come away with the shootout win.
In the absence of key forwards T.J. Oshie, Andy McDonald, and David Perron, David Backes has provided an important offensive spark for the Blues. Backes leads his team with eleven goals and twenty-one assists for a team-high total of thirty-two points.
On the injury front for the Rangers, the good news is that Ryan Callahan and Vinny Prospal will resume skating with the team. However, neither forward is going to return to the line-up before the end of January. Mats Zuccarello is beginning to acclimate offensively to the NHL, but the newest addition to the Rangers’ roster can’t be expected to carry the team’s offense indefinitely. Sean Avery’s strong play as of late caused Tortorella to bump him up to Marian Gaborik’s line, so it should be interesting to see how he reacts to this added responsibility tonight in Dallas.
If the Rangers can find some offense tonight against the Stars, hopefully they will be able to utilize this momentum to go for the win tomorrow night in St. Louis.