CALGARY, AB -- Led by new coach Alain Vigneault, the New York Rangers were one of the most optimistic teams heading into the 2013-14 season.
That optimism hasn’t quite translated into wins for the Rangers, though. In a weak Eastern Conference, New York has struggled to keep heads above water and have dropped three straight heading into Sunday’s game against the Calgary Flames.
Still, the team boasts plenty of talent to push for a playoff spot in Marc Staal, Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist, among others, each of which could earn a trip to Russia to participate in the Olympics.
This Season: 15-17-1, 31 points (12th in East)
Last Season: 26-18-4, 56 points (6th in East)
Notable Additions: LW Benoit Pouliot, D Justin Falk, D Aaron Johnson, RW Danny Kristo, C Dominic Moore, D Danny Syvret
Notable Subtractions: LW Ryane Clowe, D Steve Eminger, D Matt Gilroy, D Roman Hamrlik, C Kris Newbury, D Michael Sauer, RW Christian Thomas
Flames Season Series Record: 0-0-0
A candidate for a compliance buy-out a summer ago, Richards has blossomed into the Rangers’ leading scorer. The 33-year-old has paced New York this season in assists (16) and points (25) this season and currently has points in back-to-back games. Richards also has points in eight in his previous nine outings.
Though Stepan sits third on the Rangers in points with 20, the 23-year-old has gone pointless in his past four games and has just one assist in New York’s past six contests. Stepan, who will look to cure those woes against the Flames, has two assists in two career games against Calgary.
THREE PLAYERS TO WATCH
Though he’s searching for his first point in four games against the Flames on Sunday, McDonagh has been New York’s most productive blueliner this year. Not only does McDonagh’s six goals top the Rangers, it’s seventh best among NHL defencemen while his 19 points place him 12th.
Despite playing just 32 games this season, Zuccarello -- second in scoring for the Rangers -- has already matched his career high in goals with six. His 21 points are just two shy of his personal best established over 42 games in the 2010-122 season, too.
Recalled Wednesday to play in his first National Hockey League game, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound McIlrath could draw into his second Sunday against the Flames. The former Moose Jaw Warriors standout played 8:55 in his debut, recording one hit and a minus-1 rating.