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Rangers trying to maintain focus against Flames

by Aaron Vickers /

CALGARY -- With an eye on the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference standings, the New York Rangers kick off a four-game road trip against the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday.

The Rangers, riding a five-game winning streak, sit second in the division, three points ahead of the Philadelphia Flyers. The Flyers hold two games in hand.

"We need to push each other and we need to continue playing well because teams are winning around us," Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said. "Everyone is playing desperate hockey right now, and now is the time to just put it all out there. We only have eight games to go. It was a challenging start for us at the start of the year, but I think the second half we've been playing a lot better and the results have been there."

The Rangers are six points ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets, who hold the first wild-card position in the East for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Knowing New York dictates its playoff fate, Lundqvist said the Rangers aren't about to scoreboard watch.

"We're in control, but at the same time we have a lot of tough games coming up, so we don't take anything for granted here," said Lundqvist, who on Wednesday became the first goaltender in NHL history to reach 30 wins in eight of his first nine seasons. "The key is to go one game at a time here and put your best effort out there that night, and then you move on from there. If you get too caught in the standings and what you need to do, you lose focus on what you really have to do. It's important we keep focused on our process."

That process has worked of late. In addition to their five-game winning streak, the Rangers have won six of their past seven.

"You always want to play your best hockey this time of year," center Brad Richards said. "We're no different. We want to go in on our own terms and we need to keep winning. It's a good road trip for us before the final push. It's a tough League.

"All these teams [on the road trip], they might not be in [the playoff chase] but they're playing hard. They have pride. We have to stay with the process and not overlook people. We haven't clinched anything, so these points are very important right now."

The Flames are 17 points behind the Phoenix Coyotes for the Western Conference's second wild-card spot with nine games to go.

"[The Rangers are] playing well," defenseman Mark Giordano said. "They're a high-pressure team with a lot of weapons over there. We better be ready for a hard-fought game. We have to play well defensively because they have a lot of different options offensively that can score goals."

Here are the projected lineups for the Rangers and Flames.


Martin St. Louis - Derek Stepan - Rick Nash

Benoit Pouliot - Brad Richards - Carl Hagelin

Mats Zuccarello - Derick Brassard - J.T. Miller

Dominic Moore - Brian Boyle - Derek Dorsett

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi

Marc Staal - Anton Stralman

Raphael Diaz - Kevin Klein

Henrik Lundqvist

Cam Talbot

Scratched: Justin Falk, Ryan Haggerty, Daniel Carcillo

Injured: Chris Kreider (hand), John Moore (concussion)


Curtis Glencross - Matt Stajan - Jiri Hudler

Mike Cammalleri - Mikael Backlund - Paul Byron

Kenny Agostino - Sean Monahan - Joe Colborne

Kevin Westgarth - Lance Bouma - Brian McGrattan

Mark Giordano - TJ Brodie

Kris Russell - Chris Butler

Ladislav Smid - Tyler Wotherspoon

Karri Ramo

Joey MacDonald

Scratched: Ben Hanowski, TJ Galiardi

Injured: David Jones (upper body), Markus Granlund (upper body), Dennis Wideman (upper body)

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