Game Forty-Three, the Ottawa Senators at the New York Rangers
The Rangers return to the Garden ice tonight after a huge win against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon feeling good about their power play and what they can do when they are firing on all cylinders. It's hard not to get excited about the team when they deliver a beat down to the Penguins. Although, just a few games ago, many Rangers fans were expressing a great deal of concern after the Rangers dropped two straight games to the Islanders and Bruins. What a difference a week or so makes, huh?
The Senators are 19th in the league in both goals scored per game and goals against per game. They are ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres in the Atlantic Division and are, as of the writing of this game thread, 15 points behind the third place Canadiens. It's safe to say that things aren't going all that well for the Senators this season. They aren't scoring enough and they aren't making it happen on the power play, even with Karlsson on the blue line. The Senators do have the tenth best penalty killing unit in the league, which should be a good challenge for the Rangers' red hot power play tonight at MSG.
The Rangers are going to have keep tabs on Erik Karlsson, one of the leagues most outstanding puck-moving, offensive defensemen, and New Jersey born Bobby Ryan. This is a game that the Rangers should win, but there is a reason we actually play the games, isn't there? This is, of course, the last game before the All-Star break. The next game the Rangers have in January is on the 27th on the road against John Tavares and the Islanders. Here's hoping that the Rangers finish strong before the break and head into Nassau Coliseum with a three game winning streak.
The New York Rangers' January Schedule
1/3 Sabres at Rangers, 7:00(win.) 1/7 Rangers at Ducks, 10:30(win.) 1/8 Rangers at Kings, 10:30(win.) 1/10 Rangers at Sharks, 10:00(win.) 1/13 Islanders at Rangers, 7:00(loss.) 1/15 Rangers at Bruins, 7:00(loss.) 1/16 Rangers at Blue Jackets, 7:00(win.) 1/18 Rangers at Penguins, 12:30(win.)
1/20 Senators at Rangers, 7:00
1/27 Rangers at Islanders, 7:00
1/29 Canadiens at Rangers, 7:00
1/31 Hurricanes at Rangers, 7:00
Mike's Player to Watch: Mats Zuccarello
Marc Staal got paid. What does that mean for Zuke and Carl Hagelin? Well, most people agree that the Rangers simply can't keep both of them, and there are others who think it will be a tight squeeze to keep Zuccarello no matter what happens. After a slow start, Zuccarello has improved his play as of late. He picked up an assist against the Penguins and was a big part of the Rangers making Crosby and company look silly. Despite making a lot of things happen on the ice, Zuke is only on pace for a 44 point season. The Rangers need him to step it up in the second half. I need him to step it up in the second half. I don't think I'm alone in saying that getting Zuccarello re-signed is crucial to this team's success in the immediate future. He's a lot more than just a tiny player that makes great passes, he is a very good top six forward that creates offense. Look for Zuke to have a big game tonight against the Sens. In 5 career games against the Ottawa Senators, Zuke has 6 points.
Let's go Rangers.