Tonight the 22-16-5 (49 points) New York Rangers take on the 23-19-3 (49 points) Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh has won three in row and four of its last five since going through 3-7-0 skid, and is in prime position to move out of the wild card bracket. The Rangers are 4-4-2 in the last 10, have lost two in a row and haven't won in regulation in the last 10 games played.
The Metropolitan Division race is a tight one, but the Washington Capitals are starting to pull away at the top leading with 59 points. In second place is the Columbus Blue Jackets with 53 points and in third place is the New Jersey Devils. Following that is the Rangers and Penguins with 49 points and the Philadelphia Flyers, New York Islanders and Carolina Hurricanes all with 48 points.
There is currently no margin for error, and the Rangers are starting to falter at the worst possible time. A 7-2 loss on Saturday vs. the Islanders brought out some frustration within the team that was probably bubbling underneath the surface.
In terms of lines for today's game, Kevin Hayes will not play due to a contusion that flared up vs. the Islanders.
Before the break, Hayes left the team's final game vs. the Vegas Golden Knights in the first period.
Hayes to the locker room, he was hit a few minutes earlier pic.twitter.com/d0W6ZcDF5K— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) January 8, 2018
Additionally, Ryan McDonagh will be a game-time decision as he is battling an unannounced injury. He did not participate in the team's morning skate on Sunday.
The only thing we know is that Henrik Lundqvist will be between the pipes. As for everyone else, where and how much they play is up in the air.
If the Rangers are unable to get two points vs. the Penguins, they will extend their streak to 11 consecutive games without a regulation victory, and that could result in consequences.
Elliotte Friedman reported on Hockey Night In Canada that the Rangers were considering their options on players, and I'd imagine another loss would help fuel these rumblings.
Try and enjoy the game, and Let's Go Rangers!