The Rangers are back in action on the West Coast Wednesday night, taking on the once Mighty, but still potent, Ducks of Anaheim. Here’s what to watch for as the playoff chase continues at The Pond.
Four times this season have the Rangers absolutely mashed an Eastern Conference team by six or more goals while also shutting them out. Following their first dismantling of the Washington Capitals, the Rangers kept the pedal down, posting a 4-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since then, they’ve suffered some setbacks. After a 7-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs and a second 6-0 win against the Caps the Rangers dropped both of their next games, scoring a combined two goals in the two losses. Which will it be tonight?
Henrik Lundqvist, who could very well start the remainder of this season’s games with Marty Biron on the shelf, will likely get his 13th consecutive start Wednesday night for the Rangers. If the fatigue is catching up with him, he’s had a funny way of showing it so far. The Rangers netminder allowed just one goal on 53 shots across the past two games.
There was a time this season when the Ducks D was about as air tight as Central Park, but lately they’ve shored up the shots-against department. Despite averaging 32.5 shots from opponents per-game on the season, the fourth-highest mark in the NHL, Anaheim has allowed teams more than 30 shots just once in the last eight games. They’ve averaged 24.1 shots against over that span, including just 16 to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Of course, the Ducks lost to the Canucks and have still struggled at actually preventing goals with star G Jonas Hiller sidelined. Former Tampa Bay Lightning netminder Dan Ellis has started the last five games for Anaheim, posting a save percentage of .885 or lower his past two starts.