Game Seventy-One, the Anaheim Ducks at the New York Rangers
Season Series: 1-0-0, Rangers
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After coming off an unexpectedly difficult shootout win over the Carolina Hurricanes last night, the Rangers return to Madison Square Garden tonight to lock bills and tiny webbed feet with the powerhouse of the Western Conference; the Anaheim Ducks. These clubs have only met once before this season in a 4-1 Rangers victory on January 7th. In that game the Ducks had Ilya Bryzgalov in net and the Rangers had Henrik Lundqvist between their pipes. Obviously, we're going to see a dramatically different goalie showdown tonight at the Garden.
Here are the projected lines for the Ducks tonight:
Maroon - Getzlaf - Perry
Etem - Kesler - Palmieri
Fleischmann - Rakel - Sekac
Cogliano - Thompson - Silfverberg
Lindholm - Beachemin
Fowler - Wisniewski
Stoner - Vatanen
The Ducks are 7-3-0 in their last then games and are riding a 4 game winning streak into the Garden tonight. Each of their last 4 victories was won by a 2 goal margin or less and two of the victories came in sudden death overtime. The Ducks +15 GA/GF ratio on the season should tell you that they are accustomed to winning close games despite some of the monsters that lurk in their lineup like Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf.
The Ducks are struggling even more than the Rangers have been on the power play this season. Will tonight be the game where one of these two special teams units wakes up? This game will likely be won and lost at evens tonight and should be a close game given the kind of hockey these teams are capable of playing.
After tonight's game the Rangers next play the Kings at the Garden and it could mean the return of Henrik Lundqvist. If this is the last game of Talbot's Stand (as I am affectionately calling it), we should not forget how outrageously amazing he was. Tonight's game should be a good one, let's just hope we see a very different Rangers team from what we saw last night in Carolina because the team that was on its heels for the entirety of the third period against the worst team in the Metropolitan Division doesn't have a snow ball's chance in hell against the Ducks. It's time to get back into gear tonight at the Garden.
The New York Rangers' March Schedule
3/2, Predators at Rangers, 7:00(win.) 3/4, Rangers at Red Wings, 8:00(overtime loss.) 3/8, Rangers at Blackhawks, 7:30(win.) 3/10, Rangers at Islanders, 7:00(win!!!) 3/11 Rangers at Capitals, 8:00(win) 3/14, Rangers at Sabres, 7:00(win) 3/15, Panthers at Rangers, 5:00(win) 3/18, Blackhawks at Rangers, 8:00(loss)
3/21, Rangers at Hurricanes, 7:00 (win? Kinda.)
3/22, Ducks at Rangers, 7:30
3/24, Kings at Rangers, 7:00
3/26, Rangers at Senators, 7:00
3/28, Rangers at Bruins, 1:00
3/29, Capitals at Rangers, 3:00
3/31, Rangers at Jets, 8:00
Mike's Player to Watch: Zuke
Mats Zuccarello had himself a game last night in Carolina. In addition to scoring the game winning shootout goal with one of the nastiest moves we've ever seen Zuke pull (apparently Derick Brassard suggested it), he was making things happen, throwing the body around, and creating offense for the Rangers. He picked up the primary assist on J.T. Miller's game-tying-goal and has remained a standout for the Blueshirts despite a slow start to the season in regards to offensive production. The Ducks can play a big, nasty game and can move the puck very well. It should be interesting to see what kind of game Zuke has against the big bodies of the visiting team.
Hope you've had a nice weekend. Let's go Rangers.