Rangers vs. Canadiens
Madison Square Garden, 7:00 p.m. Friday
Rangers’ record: 37-30-4
Canadiens’ record: 39-25-7
Although the Rangers established somewhat of a grip on seventh place winning four of their last five games, now is not the time to be complacent. The Rangers take on the Canadiens in an Original Six matchup on Friday night. The Montreal Canadiens have beaten the Rangers all three times they met this season. On Feb. 5 they were shutout 2-0 thanks to Carey Price.
The Blueshirts need to pounce on the weary Canadiens who will be playing their third game in four nights.
The Habs won’t be an easy crew to beat despite the injuries they’ve sustained. They are 7-3-0 in their past ten games including last night’s hard fought shootout win over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Habs’ leading scorer Tomas Plekanec and Jeff Halpern are day-to-day with lower body injuries while Hal Gill missed yesterday’s game with the flu. Regulars Mathieu Darche, Max Pacioretty, Brent Sopel, Jaroslav Spacek, Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges are also out of the lineup.
The Rangers offense exploded for three power play goals in their 6-3 victory over the Islanders on Tuesday. Marian Gaborik scored two goals and Ryan Callahan netted a team leading 21st goal.
Players to watch:
Erik Christensen – If Christensen is having an up and down season, he is currently in the midst of what could be an upswing. He has three goals and two assists in his last five games. After being scratched for two games, he responded by scoring a goal his first game back against the San Jose Sharks last weekend. He’s been skating on a line with Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik, who scored two goals on Tuesday night.
Henrik Lundqvist – Lundqvist is expected to make his 16th consecutive start and is one win shy of 30 victories. He’s been stellar for the Rangers when they needed him most and kept them in tight games where the offense hasn’t come so easily or on cue. As the season continues to wind down, fatigue could become a factor.
Four score and 20 goals ago:
Brandon Dubinsky, Marian Gaborik, Ryan Callahan and Brian Boyle each have 20 or more goals this season. Derek Stepan is not too far behind with 18 goals.
Matt Gilroy was a healthy scratch last game for the first time since Jan. 2 in favor of Steve Eminger and likely will be again due to defensive lapses and untimely bad penalties.
Wojtek Wolksi or Sean Avery (three penalties with just seven minutes of ice time isn’t the best way to make a “comeback” impression) could be scratched again as well for failing to make a consistent impact. Mats Zuccarello could be soon to follow.