How far will the Rangers get this season?

Game Day: Rangers Visit Columbus
The Blue Jackets have been awful on special teams lately, will the Rangers take advantage?

Derek Stepan has picked up his play lately

Derek Stepan has picked up his play lately

The Rangers are in Columbus tonight to take on the sputtering Blue Jackets.  After a surprising start, the Jackets have lost six of their last seven and fallen into last place in the Central Division.  The Rangers have won three of their last four, but haven’t looked good doing it and need a better effort tonight

The Blue Jackets have deployed a tandem in net with Mathieu Garon and Steve Mason splitting the starts, but lately neither has performed well.  Mason, who will get the start tonight, has been unable to recapture the form that saw him win the 2009 Calder Trophy.  He’s sporting an ugly 3.08 GAA and a .906 save percentage.  Columbus’ struggles of late have seen them plummet down the standings.  They’re currently ranked 20th in goals scored, 16th in goals against, 29th on the power play, and 23rd on the penalty kill.  Their special teams have been particularly awful lately, where Columbus is three for its last 38 on the power play and has allowed nine goals on its last 17 penalty kill attempts.  Columbus is led as always by power forward Rick Nash who has 14 goals on the year.  The Jackets have also done a nice job integrating youngsters into the lineup as Derick Brassard and Jakub Voracek are both playing big roles for this team.  On defense Columbus is led by Rotislav Klesla, who is again among the league leaders in plus/minus.  Ex-Ranger Fedor Tyutin also plays a major role for the Blue Jackets while Marc Methot and Anton Stralman are both quietly having strong seasons.  Columbus is without left winger Kristian Huselius. 

For the Rangers, tonight’s game is about beating a weaker opponent.  The Rangers have done a good job of that this year, but this is an example of a winnable road game whose two points could prove very valuable at the end of the season.  It’ll be interesting to see if the first line of Ruslan Fedotenko, Derek Stepan and Marian Gaborik can maintain its momentum from Thursday evening.  The trio looked very sharp, but so has everyone in their first game with Gaborik.  The Rangers desperately need to find some continuity on the top line.  Derek Boogaard is having his shoulder evaluated so Todd White will take his place on the fourth line.  It’s unclear yet whether Michael Del Zotto will return to the lineup.

The recipe for this one is clear; take advantage of Columbus’ atrocious special teams.  If the Rangers can get a couple early power plays they may be able to take a commanding lead right away.  The Blueshirts should also come out physical because taking it to a young, struggling team like the Jackets could knock them off their game early.  If the Rangers play hard and solid defensively, this should be a win.  But they shouldn’t take the Jackets for granted, because Rick Nash, who’s owned the Rangers, can make them pay.  

Posted by Kevin Baumer | December 11, 2010 at 11:44 am

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New York Rangers VS Chicago Blackhawks
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 3 0 0 - 3
Blackhawks 1 1 0 - 2

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