Saturday, January 15, 2011

Pregame: Rangers at Canadiens, 1/15/11

Tonight's game against the Montreal gives the New York Rangers an opportunity to gain a measure of payback for Tuesday’s 2-1 loss at home and build on the momentum of their huge win against Vancouver.  With a record of 26-16-3, the Blueshirts currently sit in fifth place in the East with 55 points.  The key for the Rangers tonight as strange as it might seem is to forget all about their huge win Thursday night.  This team in the past, though less this season, has had trouble carrying over big wins to the following game and that would be a problem against Montreal tonight.  As fun as looking to see how far ahead X team is of the Rangers one must realize they are still only seven points ahead of ninth place Carolina, so every game is critical.
New York Rangers (26-16-3) at Montreal Candiens (24-17-3)
Key Opposition Player: Tomas Plekanec (13-21-34)
Rangers Lineup:
Dubinsky - Stepan - Zuccarello
Wolski - Anisimov - Gaborik
Fedotenko - Boyle - Prust
Avery - Drury - Weise

Staal - Girardi
Eminger - Sauer
McDonagh - Gilroy

Scratches: Kris Newbury (healthy)
Up front the Rangers will still be looking for their star Marian Gaborik to get it going and he certainly seems to be getting closer to that finally happening.  His linemate, the newly acquired Wojtek Wolski did score his first as a Ranger in the last game and has shown good chemistry with Gaborik in the two games.  In addition the Rangers will be relying on Brandon Dubinsky to play the complete game he has been all season and for the line of Fedotenko, Boyle and Prust to be the consistent force they have this year.
Defensively the Rangers do not have to change anything from how they played against Vancouver as all six defenders played a very solid game once again.  Rookie Ryan McDonagh seems to be getting more and more comfortable with each passing game and that fact might be the key to determining how the defense of the Rangers looks by the time the end of the year rolls around. 
In net there are few if any goaltenders as hot as Henrik Lundqvist right now.  Since November 26, 2010 Lundqvist is 12-5-2 with a 1.71 goals against average and a .942 save percentage.  Numbers like that are why Lundqvist is not only an All-Star but is climbing up the Vezina standings. 
On the other side the Canadiens are likely to bring more weapons to tonight’s game as opposed to the meeting earlier in the week as All-Star goaltender Carey Price and sniper Mike Cammalleri are expected to be in the lineup.  Price boasts a 21-15-3 overall record with a  2.38 goals against average and .919 save percentage.  Price has had to be stellar this season because the offense has struggled to score goals ranking 27th in the league with just 2.46 goals per game.  Contrast that with their number 5 ranking in goals against average at 2.39 and the Canadiens are playing a lot like Rangers teams of the past. 
Most interesting dynamic in the game might be Montreal’s stellar14-6-3 home record against the Rangers excellent 15-7-1 road mark.