Friday, January 10, 2014
W2W4: Rangers vs. Stars
By Katie Strang
At a glance: Coming off an inspired win over the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday night, the Rangers return home to host the sputtering Dallas Stars at Madison Square Garden on Friday. The Stars have dropped four straight, including a demoralizing 1-0 shutout loss Thursday night to Cory Schneider and the New Jersey Devils.
Building block: The general feeling among the Rangers is that Wednesday’s win was one to build on after a well-executed road game in which goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was stellar. The 2012 Vezina Trophy winner, who has had a disappointing first half this year, was particularly sharp while under fire in a flurry of chances from the Blackhawks’ league-leading offense in the last minute of play. Lundqvist will be back in net Friday with Cam Talbot backing up.
Watch out: Though the Stars are going through a rough patch, they boast two bright young talents in both Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin. The two linemates have been an exciting and productive duo to watch in Dallas, combining for 36 goals and 78 points on the season. Benn’s stunning season was enough to earn him a spot on the star-studded 2014 Canadian Olympic squad headed to Sochi next month. The team also has one of the best faceoff men in the league in Rich Peverley, who is fourth in the NHL at 60.1 percent from the dot.
Maintaining an edge: According to Alain Vigneault, the Rangers will keep the same lineup as Wednesday night, meaning J.T. Miller will again be a healthy scratch. Vigneault said he liked the physicality newly-acquired forward Daniel Carcillo provided against his former club and wanted to stick with that. Defenseman Michael Del Zotto stays in as well; the 23-year-old blue-liner has registered assists in three straight contests.
Power-play matchup: The Rangers have tallied four man-up goals in the past three games in what continues to be a dramatic improvement from the formerly-maligned unit’s pitfalls in recent years. Meanwhile, the Stars are among the worst in the league in power-play percentage (29th, 12.7) and have just one power-play marker in 13 attempts over the past three games.