Tampa Bay Lightning at New York Rangers: GAME 52
Time: 8:00 pm Eastern Time
Location: Madison Square Garden
Opponent SBNation Site: Blueshirt Banter
The Tampa Bay Lightning remain in the New York area tonight heading from Long Island to Madison Square Garden. After a shootout win in a scoreless game last night, they are going to face New York Rangers. It’s the second meeting for the teams this season. The Lightning won first game back in December. It’s also the second game for the Lightning in two days, so it’s definitely not going to be an easy game for them.
Unlike the Bolts, the Rangers could get a little bit more rest between their last and tonight’s games. They’ve won four of their previous five games, losing only to the Philadelphia Flyers, who are currently on a six-game winning streak. But the Rangers are still eight points behind the last playoff spot, so it probably won’t help them to get in the postseason, even though they’re obviously doing better than was expected before this season.
As was announced last season, the Rangers are rebuilding and are expected to be very active sellers at the trade deadline. Their biggest assets are clearly Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, and Mats Zuccarello. Hayes is having his best career season, getting a lot of time on the first power play unit. Kreider is a good goal scorer, he’s had more than 20 goals in four of his last five seasons. The only season he didn’t score 20 was 17-18 when he missed 24 games due to surgery on a blood clot in his right arm. Some rumors are also including former Lightning player Vladislav Namestnikov as a player who could be gone at the Trade Deadline although it would be very hard to move Vladdy, who has just one point in his last 14 games.
Mika Zibanejad is one to watch in the tonight’s game. He has 14 points in his last 10 games, including three goals in the last game against the New Jersey Devils. He’s playing alongside Mats Zuccarelo and Chris Kreider on the first line.
According to the stats, this is a matchup between two teams from opposite sides of the table. The Rangers have the second worst team CF% and one of the worst penalty kills in the whole league. Their goaltending has also struggled, posting just an .899 save percentage this season. On the other sid,e the Tampa Bay Lightning still has the best power play unit and are among the best in the league according to several criteria including team CF% and team save percentage.
Andrei Vasilevskiy will probably be given a rest after a 36-save shutout against the Isles. Stralman and Callahan are expected to be back in the lineup against their former team. The management is still trying to rotate players, but with the playoffs just two months away, they will have to decide how their lines will look like in April.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Ondrej Palat - Steven Stamkos - Yanni Gourde
Tyler Johnson - Brayden Point - Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn - Anthony Cirelli - J.T. Miller
Mathieu Joseph - Cedric Paquette - Ryan Callahan
Scratched: Danick Martel, Adam Erne
Victor Hedman - Dan Girardi
Ryan McDonagh - Erik Cernak
Braydon Coburn - Anton Stralman
Scratched: Mikhail Sergachev
New York Rangers
Chris Kreider - Mika Zibanejad - Mats Zuccarello
Jimmy Vesey - Kevin Hayes - Jesper Fast
Filip Chytil - Ryan Strome - Vladislav Namestnikov
Cody Mcleod - Boo Nieves - Pavel Buchnevich
Injuries: Brett Howden
Marc Staal - Neal Pionk
Brendan Smith - Kevin Shattenkirk
Brady Skjei - Adam Mcquaid
Injuries: Fredrik Claesson