Rangers vs. Lightning
Madison Square Garden, 7 pm
Rangers Record: 23 - 19 - 7
Tampa Bay Record: 19 - 19 - 10
Despite battling a pretty bad bout with the flu at Blueshirt Bulletin HQ, found some time between Day Quil and Ny Quil to preview tonight's game.
For the Rangers, they will be looking to avenge their embarrassing 5 - 1 loss in Tampa in November, in Head Coach John Tortorellas first return to the St. Petes Time Forum.
Both teams are coming off victories as Tampa Bay defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3 - 2 last night and the Rangers defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6 - 2 on Sunday.
The Lightning rely heavily on their "big three," Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, and Vinny Lecavalier. St. Louis is averaging better than a point-per-game with 53 points in 48 games. Stamkos and Lecavalier are a small step behind with 47 and 46 points, respectively.
Winger Ryan Malone has also had a standout season, scoring 39 points and a +6.
Goaltending and goals against have been a major question in Tampa Bay as both Mike Smith and Antero Niittymaki have seen equitable time, without either establishing themselves comfortably as the number one.
Smith has a GAA of 2.97 and Niittymaki a 2.68.
The offensively-resurgent Rangers will have the opportunity to continue that scoring against the defensively-challenged Lightning. Ryan Callahan led the revival with terrific two-way physical play and chipping in a couple goals.
For more on Callahan, visit BlueshirtBulletinPlus.com.
Sniper Marian Gaborik has also gotten back on the scoring sheet, with one goal and two assists against the Canadiens. With Brandon Dubinsky jumping back up to the top line between Gaborik and Vinny Prospal, the trio regained much of their early season chemistry.
Chris Drury and Erik Christensen also continue to have an impact on both sides of the puck. With Drury shifted to the left wing, Christensen presented the second line with more speed through the middle and opened up time and space along the boards.
Defensively, the Rangers saw some more punch as well. In fact, veteran Wade Redden stuck up for his teammates and took on 23 year-old rugged winger Beniot Pouliot, who had blindsided Christensen earlier.
Offensively, Mike Del Zotto has taken the advice of the coaching staff and shot more on the power play, creating more opportunities for rebounds and tip-ins. Matt Gilroy has regained some confidence in rushing the puck as well without sacrificing positioning in his own end.
Marc Staal will have his hands full tonight while trying to cover the top Lightning forwards, but did a good job against the likes of Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri.
Henrik Lundqvist is expected to be back in net after seeing only 20 shots on Sunday.