Game Seventy-Two, the Los Angeles Kings at the New York Rangers
Season Series: 1-0-0, Rangers
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This will be the second and last regular season game between the Kings and Rangers this season. The Rangers won the first contest between these two 2014 Stanley Cup Finalist clubs in January by a score of 4-3. I'm not sure that many hockey analysts would have predicted that the Rangers would be competing for the Presidents Trophy this season while the Kings are desperately fighting for their playoff lives near the end of March, but that is exactly where we find ourselves this Tuesday evening.
The Kings have recently called up Mike Richards from the AHL in attempt to add some more quality to their bottom six forward group. However, outside of Jonathan Quick, the Kings have had a lineup full of under performing players and adding Mike Richards back into the mix isn't going to solve the club's issues. Their offense, ranked 18th in the league in G/G, needs to wake up in a big, bad way if they want to catch up to the Winnipeg Jets and the Minnesota Wild and have a chance to return to the post season and defend the Cup. Things are looking grim for the defending champions, but there is still enough hockey to played for them to make a push to get into the postseason. Tonight, the Rangers will find themselves having an opportunity to rob the Kings of some precious points and prevent them from returning to the playoffs... and it is happening at the Garden. Yep, should be fun.
The Kings have been dreadful on the road this season. Their record of 13-14-7 while wearing their road whites simply has not been good enough for a team that has the kind of coaching and talent that they have. The Rangers will be looking to win their third straight game tonight and will have Henrik Lundqvist available to them and practicing with the team for the first time since the severity of his vascular injury was realized. Slowly but surely, it looks like the Rangers are on the mend and headed for a deep run in the playoffs if not the President's Trophy. As of right now, the Kings are fighting tooth and nail to catch the Winnipeg Jets for the last Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. What a difference a year can make, huh?
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(the winniest of wins)
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: Rick Nash
As we all know, Rick Nash was silent on the scoresheet in last year's battle for the Stanley Cup against the Kings. In the previous meeting between these clubs this season he picked up an assist and put 4 shots on Jonathan Quick. It has now been six games since big Rick has scored a goal for the Rangers and he only has 2 in the entire month of March. Anyone who has been watching the games knows that just because he isn't putting pucks in the net doesn't mean he hasn't been a huge part of the Rangers' recent success. He's making things happen all over the ice, in all situations, and has remained the team's best skater by a large margin. Is tonight the night that big Rick buries goal number 40? I certainly hope so. It would be nice to see him get rewarded and get back his mojo as we enter the final stretch here.
Enjoy the game. LGR.