New York Rangers vs. Ottawa Senators, 7:30 PM at Scotiabank Place
Where To Watch: MSG Network
Where To Listen: 1130-AM, Bloomberg Radio
Live In-Game Chat: 7:15 PM on BluieshirtsUnited.com
For a Rangers team (42-16-7, 91 pts) that is looking to regain its footing following a string of uneven performances, including Tuesday's 4-1 defeat in New Jersey, the next two days will not be easy ones. In the next two days the Rangers are scheduled to face two fast-skating, solid-offensive teams in the Ottawa Senators and the Chicago Blackhawks as part of a back-to-back road set of games. First up this evening are the Senators (35-25-8, 78 pts), who have won seven of their last ten games, including a 7-3 thrashing of the Tampa Bay Lightning Tuesday night. Ottawa is in desperation mode, currently sitting in seventh place in the Eastern Conference with 78 points, eight ahead of ninth-place Washington and only one behind sixth-place New Jersey. However, they have the fewest games remaining of any team in the East (14), so every point is critical for them. The Rangers, though, will be more concerned about regaining their fierce battle level, which has been on the wane the last couple of weeks or so. Players and coaches have expressed the belief that victories and picking up points in the standings have perhaps masked the fact that the team's play has been off recently, and that it caught up to the Blueshirts out in New Jersey on Tuesday evening---a contest which featured a slew of sloppy turnover by the Rangers. With the Pittsburgh Penguins winning again last night, the Rangers lead in the Atlantic Division---and the difference between being the conference's No. 1 seed or No. 4 seed---is down to six points, making this a crucial match tonight for the Blueshirts, as well. Brandon Dubinsky is currently a question mark after hurting his nose in a fight with Ryan Carter on Tuesday. Ottawa's key injury is to goaltender Craig Anderson, who remains out of the lineup, with Robin Lehner and Ben Bishop handling the duties down the stretch.
This is the fourth and final meeting this season between the Rangers and Sens. The Rangers are 1-1-1 vs. the Senators this year, with their only victory coming on the road at Scotiabank Place on November 9th. In that 3-2 Rangers win, Marian Gaborik scored twice and Henrik Lundqvist stopped 29 of 31 shots. Gaborik leads the Rangers in scoring vs. Ottawa this season with five (3-2-5).
"We'll see how we respond, it's up to us. We've gotten some wins the past few weeks, but I think we all feel we can play better. I don't think we should overthink it. It starts with how hard we play and then we need to be very focused out there. That's how we have had success this year, playing smart out there. It's not that we are more skilled than other teams. We've been playing smart hockey and working really hard. That's what we have to come back to (in Ottawa)."-Henrik Lundqvist
By The Numbers
Despite their loss in New Jersey on Tuesday, the Rangers have the second-best road record in the entire National Hockey League at 20-9-5, 45 pts. Only Vancouver, at 22-10-4 and 48 pts, has a better road mark than the Rangers this season so far.
Ottawa's Milan Michalek notched the second Hat Trick of his career Tuesday against Tampa Bay, and became only the third player in NHL history (Mario Lemieux and Marcel Dionne) to record two of his three goals into the empty net. Michalek now has a career-best 32 goals on the season.
Can the Rangers get back on track tonight and grab two big points on the road? Share your prediction below.