- Katie Strang, ESPN.com
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At a glance: Home sweet home? Not so much. The New York Rangers have dropped four straight to begin a nine-game homestand at Madison Square Garden that was expected to propel the Blueshirts upward in the standings. Instead, they have picked up only one of eight possible points heading into Sunday night’s game against the Calgary Flames. The Rangers hope to snap their skid against a plucky Flames squad that has won its last four road matches.
Rough stretch: The Rangers have given up four goals in each of the last four games, and Henrik Lundqvist was the starter in net for each. The former Vezina Trophy winner has yet to find his groove this season, and the Rangers have plummeted accordingly. Even so, coach Alain Vigneault continues to express confidence in Lundvqist, who will make his sixth consecutive start against the Flames.
Scrounging for scoring: Meanwhile, the Rangers have been stymied recently by a list of goalies that is not exactly noteworthy. The last four netminders they faced? Curtis McElhinney, Mike McKenna (who made his first NHL appearance since 2010-11 to replace an injured McElhinney), Carter Hutton and Philipp Grubauer. The Rangers have struggled to find the back of the net regardless, as their 28th-ranked offense has managed only 2.18 goals per game.
Banged-up Blueshirts: Again the Rangers will be without captain Ryan Callahan (knee) and defenseman Marc Staal (concussion), but they will return young center Derick Brassard to the lineup. Brassard missed Thursday’s game against his former team the Columbus Blue Jackets with a “sore posterior.”
Making changes: Looking to help his team out of this mess, Vigneault has split up top defensive pair Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. With a gaping hole on the team’s defense with Marc Staal out, Vigneault hopes the move provides the Rangers a bit more balance on the back end.
Shake-up at the Saddledome: The Flames have recorded two straight wins since the team dismissed general manager Jay Feaster on Thursday. Whoever replaces Feaster in Calgary will be taking notice of diminutive forward Paul Byron, who has been playing his tail off for the Flames of late. Said coach Bob Hartley: “He’s finding ways to spend Christmas in Calgary.”
At a glance: Home sweet home? Not so much. The New York Rangers have dropped four straight to begin a nine-game homestand at Madison Square Garden that was expected to propel the Blueshirts upward in the standings.