|The Blue Jackets and New York Rangers collide in a bizarre twist in their only meeting of the season – tonight at Madison Square Garden in the Big Apple. |
In their last game, the Rangers came flat-footed out of the gate and were down 4-0 to the Chicago Blackhawks barely 10 minutes into the first period. They eventually lost the game 4-2, and in the process, the Blackhawks snapped their nine-game losing streak. Yesterday at Nationwide Arena, the Blackhawks won their second straight game and beat the Blue Jackets 6-1. Now both the Rangers and Columbus are looking to get back on the winning track when they clash tonight.
The Rangers have been one of the NHL’s most consistent clubs all season long and have shown a stubborn resiliency that embodies head coach John Tortorella’s philosophy. The Rangers play an intense, in-your-face style of hockey that has amped up their divisional rivalries with the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins – and when they’re on their game, they can drive opponents crazy. Tortorella’s club is both young and experienced, and full of players that are best described as “relentless.” Captain Ryan Callahan is regarded as one of the toughest skill players in the league, and at age 26, the native of Rochester, N.Y. has become a staple of the Rangers franchise.
Once known for their willingness to spend top-dollar on any number of free agents, the Rangers have embraced a build-from-within structure since Tortorella took over and have sprinkled in acquisitions that fit their system. Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards are two big-ticket names that have joined the Rangers in the last few years, and they’ve blended well with young players such as Derek Stepan, Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov.
Henrik Lundqivst is the king of the net for New York, and he is expected to get the start against the Blue Jackets after backup Marty Biron was pulled in the first period Thursday night.
| || || |
|Nash (18) ||Gaborik (27) |
|Prospal (25) ||Stepan (26) |
|Nash (39) ||Gaborik (49) |
|Dorsett (175) ||Prust (116) |
|MacKenzie (+4) ||Del Zotto (+26) |
|Sanford (10-13-4) |
|Lundqvist (27-11-4) |
|Sanford (2.52) ||Lundqvist (1.77) |
|Sanford (.915) ||Lundqvist (.941) || |
|• Tonight marks the lone meeting this season between the Blue Jackets and Rangers. Columbus is 6-4-1 all-time against NY Rangers, including a 1-2-1 mark at Madison Square Garden. The Blue Jackets won the most recent meeting 3-1 at Nationwide Arena on Dec. 11, 2010, while the Rangers won the last meeting at Madison Square Garden by a score of 7-4 on Nov. 23, 2009. |
• C Derek MacKenzie had his first assist in 20 games with a helper Feb. 12 vs. Anaheim. He last had an assist Dec. 26 at Chicago. It was his first point in 10 games as he had a goal Jan. 17 vs. Edmonton. He had three hits yesterday against Chicago to push his team-leading total to 168, which ranks 14th in the NHL.
•Columbus plays in 16 back-to-back sets this season. The Jackets play one home/home sets, home/road sets five times, road/home sets on five occasions and five back-to-back road/road sets. Columbus is 78-79-22 all-time in the first game of back-to-backs and is 58-96-24 all-time in the second game.
• C Mark Letestu returned to the lineup Feb. 14 vs. St. Louis after missing the previous 17 games due to a hand injury suffered Jan. 5 at San Jose and recorded an assist. He has collected 1-5-6 the last nine games after being held to 2-1-3 the previous 15 games.