The Los Angeles Kings come to the Garden Thursday night to battle the Rangers in a contest that pits two teams battling to reach the playoffs. Here are three factors to watch for when the puck drops.
Any Goal Is A Good Goal
Both the Rangers and Kings are excellent in their own end, ranking sixth and third respectively in goals against average. That ought to increase the value of any goal either sign can put on the board tonight. In addition to the stacked blue lines, which will feature Marc Staal and Drew Doughty, expect a solid battle in the nets between Henrik Lundqvist and talented youngster Jonathan Bernier.
Grind ‘Em Down
The gritty quality of the Rangers’ game could pay particular dividends against the Kings Thursday. L.A. is in the midst of a 10-game road trip that began Feb. 1. Adding to their potential weariness, the Columbus Blue Jackets took the Kings to a shootout Wednesday night. The Rangers should be well rested, having been off since Sunday’s win over Pittsburgh and should have the energy advantage. The Blueshirts shouldn’t expect the Kings, desperate for points in the playoff race, to simply roll over though. L.A. hasn’t lost in regulation since Jan. 20.
Special Teams Still Special?
Both the Rangers power play and penalty kill carried them in their 5-3 win over the Penguins. Now, can they keep that momentum going? The consistency on the PK has never really been in question this season, but the PP has been a work in progress. The three man-advantage goals Sunday marked the season high for the unit. It will be interesting to see if the Blueshirts can keep it up or if bad habits -- over-handling the puck, not screening the goalie -- resurface.