New York Rangers vs. Columbus Blue Jackets, 8:00 PM at Madison Square Garden
Where To Watch: MSG Network
Where To Listen: 1050 ESPN Radio
Live In-Game Chat: 7:45 PM on BlueshirtsUnited.com
Even though they are playing the team with the worst record in the NHL, the Rangers (37-14-5, 79 pts) will be looking to piece together a rock-solid performance tonight at Madison Square Garden when they host the Columbus Blue Jackets (17-35-6, 40 pts). The Blueshirts were not pleased with their game Thursday, a 4-2 loss to the Blackhawks in which the Rangers surrendered four goals in the first ten minutes of the game. It was the first time the Rangers allowed four goals in a non-shootout game since a 4-1 loss to the Penguins on January 19th. Despite the defeat, the Rangers enter play this evening having won four of their last five games, and are 8-2-1 in their previous 11. They remain in first place in the Eastern Conference, holding a seven-point lead over the Boston Bruins. Head coach John Tortorella said on Saturday that he will go with the same lineup this evening, meaning that injured forward Ruslan Fedotenko remains out of the lineup, that recently-recalled forward Wojtek Wolski also will not play, and that rookie Stu Bickel stays in the lineup. Henrik Lundqvist is excpected to start in goal. The Blue Jackets---whose 40 points are ten fewer than Edmonton, which has the next-worst record in the league---are coming off a 6-1 home-ice loss Saturday to the Blackhawks, though they are 4-3-0 in their last seven games. The team is engulfed daily by rumors its star captain Rick Nash is going to be traded before the league's February 27th deadline. Some of those rumors involve the Rangers, meaning a circus-like atmosphere with the media should surround Nash tonight at The Garden.
This is the one and only meeting between the Rangers and Blue Jackets this season. These two clubs last faced one another December 11, 2010 when the Rangers dropped a 3-1 decision in Columbus. Marc Staal scored the lone Blueshirts goal that night. The Rangers last defeated the Blue Jackets at The Garden on November 23, 2009, a 7-4 victory.
"(Rick Nash) is their captain, and has been the face of that franchise since they started, so this season (and the trade rumors) have to be tough for him. He's their best player ever, and has such a connection there, so it must be real tough for him. (On the ice) we have to get in his face, don't give him any room. He's a real good skater, and it's hard to stay close to him, but that's what you have to do."-Anton Stralman
By the Numbers
Rangers defenseman Anton Stralman played 124 of his 245 NHL games as a member of the Blue Jackets, totaling a career-high 34 points with Columbus two seasons ago. This year with the Blueshirts Stralman is 2-9-11 in 33 games, and has notched three assists in the past five contests.
In eight career games vs. the Rangers, Rick Nash has scored seven goals and notched eight points. Though limited to 18 goals so far this season, Nash is Columbus' all-time goals leader (277) and leader in points (527).
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