Rangers Vs. Blues: Keys To The Game

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 13: Michael Del Zotto #4 of the New York Rangers gets tangled with Steve Ott #29 of the Dallas Stars at Madison Square Garden on December 13, 2011 in New York City. The Stars shut out the Rangers 1-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers will look to shake off a 1-0 loss to the Dallas Stars tonight when they take on the St. Louis Blues on the road. The Blues are playing much better hockey after a slow start to kick off the season, so this won't be an easy game for New York.

Here's what the Rangers need to do to secure the win.

Get An Early Goal: The team is probably a little down on itself for not finding the back of the net once against the Stars. That type of emotion tends to build up the longer the scoring drought continues. If the Rangers' offense can score an early goal it would do wonders for alleviating the pressure of getting shut out the game before.

Hank Stay Hank: Henrik Lundqvist had a remarkable game against the Stars and deserves a lot of credit for keeping the Rangers in the game until the final whistle. He's going to need to be big again tonight, with the Blues sporting a pretty talented team. The defense will play a big role in this as well, but a goalie can always expect to be left out to dry once or twice in a given game, and Lundqvist needs to be there when he is.

Join me after the jump for more.

NEW YORK RANGERS at ST. LOUIS BLUES

Thursday, Dec. 15, 8:00 p.m.
Scottrade Center - St. Louis, Missouri
Rangers: 17-7-4 (38 pts)
Blues: 17-9-3 (37 pts)

* All information through NHL games on Dec. 13

TOMORROW'S GAME:
The Rangers will face-off against the St. Louis Blues tomorrow at Scottrade Center (8:00 p.m.), to begin a three-game road trip. The Blueshirts currently rank second in the Atlantic Division standings, and fourth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 17-7-4 (38 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having been defeated by the Dallas Stars, 1-0, on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden, to end their winning streak at two games. New York has recorded at least one point in 16 of their last 20 contests (14-4-2). The Blues enter the contest with a 17-9-3 (37 pts) record to rank sixth in the Western Conference, and have won their last three games. Following tomorrow's contest, the Rangers will face-off against the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday, Dec. 17, at Jobing.com Arena (8:00 p.m.), in their third consecutive game against a Western Conference opponent.

RANGERS PRACTICE SCHEDULE:
Prior to tomorrow's contest, the Rangers' morning skate is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. at Scottrade Center. Head Coach John Tortorella will be available to the media at 11:45 a.m.
* Schedule and availability subject to change

BROADCAST INFORMATION:
* TV: MSG Network
7:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show with Bill Pidto and Ron Duguay
8:00 p.m. - Rangers at Blues
Broadcasters: Sam Rosen (Play-By-Play), Joe Micheletti (Analyst), John Giannone (In-Game Reporter)
* Radio: 1050 ESPN Radio and newyorkrangers.com
7:30 p.m. - Rangers Pre-Game Show
8:00 p.m. - Rangers at Blues
Broadcasters: Kenny Albert (Play-By-Play), Dave Maloney (Analyst)

RANGERS vs. BLUES:
* All-Time: 75-39-16-0 overall (45-12-6-0 at home; 30-27-10-0 on the road)
* 2011-12: Tonight is the first and only meeting this season between the Rangers and Blues.
* Last Season: New York was 1-1-0 overall, including a 1-0-0 mark on the road. Brandon Dubinsky led the Rangers in scoring with two points (two assists) in the season series, while Sean Avery and Derek Stepan tallied one goal each. Martin Biron started both games for the Blueshirts, posting a record of 1-1-0 with a 1.01 GAA and .957 Sv%.
* The Rangers have won their last two games in St. Louis, having out-scored the Blues, 4-2, over the span
* 11 of the last 12 meetings between the Rangers and Blues have been decided by two goals or less
* New York ranks sixth with a 9-4-2 (20 pts) record on the road; St. Louis ranks second with an 11-3-1 (23 pts) mark at home
* The Rangers have posted a 0-0-0 record vs. Central Division opponents; the Blues are 2-0-0 vs. the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 0-2-0 record with a 3.05 GAA in two career regular season games vs. St. Louis; Martin Biron is 1-7-0-2 with a 2.38 GAA in 11 career regular season games vs. the Blues
* Marian Gaborik leads the Rangers with 13 goals, 21 assists and 34 points in 31 career regular season games vs. St. Louis; Brad Richards has registered 18 assists and 20 points in 17 career regular season contests vs. the Blues
* New York lists one former Blue on their roster: Jeff Woywitka (2005-06 - 2008-09)
* St. Louis lists no former Ranger on their roster

SPECIAL TEAMS:
The Rangers are 10-41 (24.4%) with the man advantage in the last 10 games. The Blueshirts' penalty kill has also held their opponent scoreless in four straight games entering tonight's contest (16-16, 100.0% over the span), while tallying three shorthanded goals during the stretch. The Rangers' penalty kill is 26-28 (92.9%) in the last nine games. The Blueshirts have posted a record of 12-1-2 in games when tallying a power play goal, and are 12-2-2 when holding their opponent scoreless on the power play.
* Power Play: The Rangers did not tally a goal in four power play opportunities (7:59) on \Tuesday vs. Dallas. New York is tied for 19th overall (19-115, 16.5%) and ranks 28th on the road (6-55, 10.9%). The Rangers are 2-10 (7:37) in five-on-three situations (last – 12/05 vs. TOR), and 0-4 (3:46) when four-on-three (last – 11/3 vs. ANA). Shorthanded goals allowed (2): 12/5 vs. TOR (Steckel); 12/8 vs. TBL (Moore).
* Penalty Killing: The Blueshirts held the Stars scoreless in two shorthanded situations (4:00) on Tuesday at MSG. New York ranks fifth overall (93-107, 86.9%) and 14th on the road (53-63, 84.1%). The Rangers are 4-5 (2:35) in three-on-five situations (last – 12/8 vs. TBL), and 0-1 (1:17) when three-on-four (last – 10/7 at LAK). Shorthanded goals for (4): 10/20 at CGY (Prust); 12/8 vs. TBL (Anisimov); 12/10 at BUF (Hagelin); 12/10 at BUF (Callahan).
* Four-on-Four: New York did not tally/yield a goal in one four-on-four situation (2:00) on Tuesday vs. Dallas. The Rangers are plus-three in 33 four-on-four situations (60:21), and even in one three-on-three situation (0:01). Four-on-four goals for (3): 10/18 at VAN (Gaborik); 10/20 at CGY (McDonagh); 10/27 vs. TOR (Girardi). Four-on-four goals allowed (0).

BACK-TO-BACKS
The Blueshirts swept their weekend back-to-back set against Buffalo and Florida, out-scoring their opponents, 10-2, in the two games. The Rangers are scheduled to play 14 back-to-back sets this season. New York has posted a record of 3-0-1 (1-0-0 at home, 2-0-1 on the road) in the first game of the set, and are 3-0-1 (3-0-0 at home, 0-0-1 on the road) in the second game. Since 2009-10, New York is 24-8-3 in the second game of back-to-back sets, with a 12-3-1 mark at MSG and 12-5-2 on the road over the span. Henrik Lundqvist has started on consecutive days 56 times in his career, posting a record of 35-14-7 with a 1.82 GAA, .935 Sv% and six shutouts in the second game. The Rangers' next back-to-back set, their fifth of the season, is Dec. 22-23 against the NY Islanders and Philadelphia, with both games at MSG.

FAST START
The Blueshirts' 38 points through 28 games (17-7-4) is their best start to the season since the team posted an 18-8-2 (38 pts) mark through 28 contests in 2008-09, and is only four points shy of the 1993-94 Stanley Cup Championship team's 42 points in 28 games (20-6-2). New York currently ranks third in the league overall with a .679 winning percentage.

THE PUCK STOPS HERE
The Blueshirts are tied for the league lead in fewest goals against, allowing 58 goals through 28 games, and rank third with a 2.07 GAA. The Rangers have held their opponents to two or fewer goals in 18 of their 28 games this season. Henrik Lundqvist is 12-6-4 with a 2.03 GAA, .933 Sv% and two shutouts, while Martin Biron is 5-1-0 with a 1.79 GAA, .937 Sv% and one shutout. Lundqvist is tied for 10th in the NHL in wins, fifth in Sv%, sixth in shutouts and ranks eighth in GAA.

A BROADWAY HIT
The Rangers rank third in the league with 752 hits, including 395 hits on the road to rank third in the NHL. Ryan Callahan ranks fourth in the NHL with 98 hits, while Dan Girardi ranks seventh among league defensemen with 76 hits.

2,500 WINS CLUB
The Rangers registered their 2,500th win in franchise history with a 4-1 victory at Buffalo on Saturday, becoming the fifth franchise in NHL history to reach the milestone along with Boston, Detroit, Montreal and Toronto. Below is a list of other Rangers milestone wins (courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau):
* 1st win on Nov. 16, 1926 vs. MTLM (1-0)
* 500th win on Jan. 25, 1951 at CHI (2-1)
* 1,000th win on Feb. 22, 1970 vs. TOR (5-3)
* 1,500th win on Oct. 10, 1983 vs. LAK (2-1)
* 2,000th win on Jan. 4, 1997 vs. OTT (6-4)

QUICK HITS:
* The Rangers' seven regulation losses are tied for the fewest in the NHL
* New York has registered a point in 16 of their last 20 games (14-4-2), and has out-scored their opponent, 67-43, during the stretch
* New York is 5-1-1 when leading after the first period and 11-0-2 when leading after the second
* The Blueshirts lead the league with a .81 win% when out-shooting their opponent (9-2-0)
* The Rangers are 7-0-0 all-time in games when Brandon Prust is assessed a fighting major in the opening two minutes
* The Blueshirts rank second in the NHL when scoring first, posting a 13-1-1 mark (.867 win%) in those contests, and their 13 wins are tied for third in the league
* New York notched two shorthanded goals in the second period on Dec. 10 at Buffalo, marking the first time the team tallied two shorthanded goals in the same period since Mar. 6, 1997 at Los Angeles (2nd Period, B. Berg at 6:09 and N. Sundstrom at 15:11). *courtesy of the Elias Sports Bureau
* Henrik Lundqvist has held opponents to two or fewer goals in 14 games this season, and is 10-3-1 with a 1.84 GAA, .936 Sv% and one shutout in his last 14 games
* Michael Del Zotto has tallied eight assists in the last nine games
* Brad Richards has tallied 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in the last 20 games, with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in the last 10
* Derek Stepan has tallied 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in the last 20 contests, with eight points (three goals, five assists) in the last seven
* Artem Anisimov has tallied 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in the last 17 games, with seven points (four goals, three assists) in the last seven
* Marian Gaborik has tallied 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in the last 21 games, with eight points (five goals, three assists) in the last eight
* Ryan Callahan has tallied 10 points (four goals, six assists) in the last 10 games
* Rangers' prospects Christian Thomas (Canada), J.T. Miller (USA) and Peter Ceresnak (Slovakia) have been invited to participate in their respective National Junior Team's selection camp for the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship

MILESTONES IN SIGHT:
* Marian Gaborik: 2 assists from 300th NHL career; 2 goals from 300th NHL career; 4 points from 600th NHL career
* Dan Girardi: 4 assists from 100th NHL career

MILESTONES RECENTLY ACHIEVED:
* Brad Richards: 800th career NHL game (12/13 vs. DAL)

INJURIES:
* Marc Staal (concussion, IR on 10/5) - 28
* Mike Rupp (knee, 10/24) - 21
* Wojtek Wolski (groin, 11/3) - 17
* Michael Sauer (concussion, 12/5) - 4
Total Man-Games Lost: 79

RECENT TRANSACTIONS:
* Dec. 14 - Recalled defensman Tim Erixon from Connecticut (AHL)

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