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Rangers Vs. Coyotes: Keys To The Game

The New York Rangers are looking to break out of a two-game losing streak tonight when they take on the Phoenix Coyotes on the road. It's going to be a tough matchup against a solid team, and here is how the Rangers can get the win they need.

Score Some Goals: The Rangers have scored just one goal in the back-to-back losses to the Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues. New York's offense didn't create too many scoring chances and the team ended up losing a 1-0 decision and a 4-1 decision because of it. Tonight, the Rangers want to get on the board early so they can get their confidence back It's tough for a team when the offense isn't putting up goals, hopefully that's taken care of early tonight.

Familiar Faces: It will be a reunion between Lauri Korpikoski and Michal Rozsival tonight when the pair takes on their former team. Same would go for Wojtek Wolski, but he's still out of the lineup due to his hernia surgery. Both Kospikoski and Rozsival are probably going to want to make the Rangers pay for sending them out West in two different trades, so the Rangers need to be ready for an emotionally charged game tonight.

Join me after the jump for more.

Defense, Defense, Defense: It hasn't just been the scoring that's plagued the Rangers in their past two losses, it's been the defense as well. Although the Rangers only gave up one goal to Dallas there were multiple defensive gaffs that needed spectacular Henrik Lundqvist saves to keep out of the net. Obviously Tim Erixon wasn't the answer to my defensive questions, because the young defenseman was sent down yesterday. Either way, the Rangers need to start shoring up the defense.

Confidence Boosters: The Rangers' confidence isn't very high anymore, and that's a problem. We saw how good the team played when they were confident, but very tough back-to-back losses have the Rangers a little down on themselves. New York can break out of that spell with a win tonight, but it won't be easy. Simple hockey needs to reign supreme tonight. No passes up the middle, smart plays in transition and convert your opportunities when you get them. That's the best way to break out of a mini-slump like this one.

Rangers official pregame notes below.

Saturday, Dec. 17, 8:00 p.m. Arena - Phoenix, Arizona
Rangers: 17-8-4 (38 pts)
Coyotes: 16-12-3 (35 pts)

* All information through NHL games on Dec. 15

The Rangers will face-off against the Phoenix Coyotes tomorrow at Arena (8:00 p.m.), in their third consecutive game against a Western Conference opponent. The Blueshirts currently rank second in the Atlantic Division standings, and fourth in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 17-8-4 (38 pts). The Rangers enter the contest having been defeated by the St. Louis Blues, 4-1, on Thursday at Scottrade Center, and are now 14-5-2 in their last 21 games. The Coyotes enter the contest with a 16-12-3 (35 pts) record to rank ninth in the Western Conference, and have lost three of their last four games. Following tomorrow's contest, the Rangers will face-off against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday, Dec. 20, at Prudential Center (7:00 p.m.), to conclude a three-game road trip.

Please note there is no morning skate scheduled prior to tomorrow's contest. Head Coach John Tortorella will be available to the media at 3:50 p.m. MST.
* Schedule and availability subject to change

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

* All-Time: 36-24-6-0 overall (21-10-2-0 at home; 15-14-4-0 on the road)
* 2011-12: Tonight is the first of two meetings this season, and first and only on the road.
* Last Season: New York was 1-0-0 overall, having won their only meeting, 4-3, in a shootout on Dec. 16 at MSG. Dan Girardi led the Rangers with two points (one goal, one assist) in the contest. Derek Stepan and Brandon Prust also tallied a goal apiece, while Erik Christensen notched the game-deciding goal in the shootout. Martin Biron made 30 saves through regulation and overtime, and turned aside all three shots faced in the shootout.
* New York ranks seventh with a 9-5-2 (20 pts) record on the road; Phoenix ranks 23rd with a 7-6-2 (16 pts) mark at home
* The Rangers have posted a 2-1-2 record vs. Pacific Division opponents; the Coyotes are 1-2-0 vs. the Atlantic Division
* Henrik Lundqvist has posted a 3-0-0 record with a 2.00 GAA in three career regular season games vs. Phoenix; Martin Biron is 4-4-0-1 with a 2.43 GAA and one shutout in 10 career regular season games vs. the Coyotes
* Marian Gaborik leads the Rangers with 18 goals and 26 points in 27 career regular season games vs. Phoenix; Brad Richards has registered a team-high, 13 assists in 25 career regular season contests vs. the Coyotes
* New York lists three former Coyotes on their roster: Brandon Prust (2008-09); Mike Rupp (2003-04 - 2005-06); Wojtek Wolski (2009-10 - 2010-11)
* Phoenix lists four former Rangers on their roster: Lauri Korpikoski (2008-09); Jason LaBarbera (2000-01 - 2003-04); Derek Morris (2008-09); Michal Rozsival (2005-06 - 2010-11)

The Rangers are 10-41 (24.4%) with the man advantage in the last 11 games. The Blueshirts' penalty kill has held their opponent scoreless in five straight games entering tonight's contest (17-17, 100.0% over the span), while tallying three shorthanded goals during the stretch, and is 27-29 (93.1%) in the last 10 games. The Blueshirts have posted a record of 12-1-2 in games when tallying a power play goal, and are 12-3-2 when holding their opponent scoreless on the power play.
* Power Play: The Rangers were not awarded a power play on Thursday at St. Louis. The last time the Blueshirts did not have a power play opportunity was Apr. 9, 2011 vs. New Jersey (5-2 win). New York is tied for 16th 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 Blues scoreless in one shorthanded situation (2:00) on Thursday at St. Louis. New York ranks fifth overall (94-108, 87.0%) and 14th on the road (54-64, 84.4%). 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 skate in a four-on-four situation on Thursday at St. Louis. 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).

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.

The Blueshirts rank third in the league in fewest goals against, allowing 62 goals through 29 games, and rank fourth with a 2.14 GAA. The Rangers have held their opponents to two or fewer goals in 18 of their 29 games this season. Henrik Lundqvist is 12-7-4 with a 2.07 GAA, .932 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 11th in the NHL in wins, fifth in Sv%, sixth in shutouts and ranks seventh in GAA.

The Rangers rank fourth in the league with 778 hits, including 421 hits on the road to rank third in the NHL. Ryan Callahan ranks fourth in the NHL with 102 hits, while Dan Girardi is tied for eighth among league defensemen with 77 hits.

The Rangers registered their 2,500th win in franchise history with a 4-1 victory at Buffalo on Dec. 10, 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)

* The Rangers' eight regulation losses are tied for second fewest in the NHL
* New York has registered a point in 16 of their last 21 games (14-5-2), and has out-scored their opponent, 68-47, 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 an .818 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 rank fifth 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 10-4-1 with a 1.92 GAA, .935 Sv% and one shutout in his last 15 games
* Michael Del Zotto has tallied nine points (one goal, eight assists) in the last 10 games
* Ryan Callahan has tallied 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the last 11 games
* Brad Richards has tallied 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in the last 21 games, with 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in the last 11
* Derek Stepan has tallied 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) in the last 21 contests, with eight points (three goals, five assists) in the last eight
* Artem Anisimov has tallied seven points (four goals, three assists) in the last eight games
* Marian Gaborik has tallied 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) in the last 22 games, with eight points (five goals, three assists) in the last nine
* 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

* 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

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

* Marc Staal (concussion, IR on 10/5) - 29
* Mike Rupp (knee, 10/24) - 22
* Wojtek Wolski (groin, 11/3) - 18
* Michael Sauer (concussion, 12/5) - 5
Total Man-Games Lost: 83

* Dec. 14 - Recalled defenseman Tim Erixon from Connecticut (AHL)
* Dec. 16 - Assigned defenseman Tim Erixon to Connecticut (AHL)