It’s Wednesday Night Rivalry at the Garden! Tonight at 8:00 PM, the Rangers will face the inconsistent Blackhawks. Inconsistency has been the preeminent adjective for the Blackhawks this season. Losing five games in a row in early December, the Blackhawks followed that up by going on a five game winning streak. Since then, the Hawks have dropped four of their last five games. A primary factor contributing to the Blackhawks inconsistency is the fact that Corey Crawford was placed on IR (Injury Reserve) with an upper-body injury. Now, the Blackhawks must rely on goaltenders Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass. Forsberg made 26 saves in a 5-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, December 28th. The next day, rookie net-minder Jeff Glass made his NHL debut against the Edmonton Oilers, where he made 43 saves for the 4-3 overtime victory. He played so well that on December 31st (which just happens to be Corey Crawford’s 33rd birthday), Rookie Jeff Glass stepped into the blue paint once again, where he played well in a 4-3 overtime defeat by the Calgary Flames. Career AHLer Jeff Glass (age 32), had never played an NHL game since he was drafted by the Ottawa Senators 89th overall in 2004. Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that Jeff Glass will face the Rangers tonight.
Blackhawk’s center Artem Anisimov was placed on IR after leaving mid-way through the Blackhawk’s defeat by the Canucks.
The last time the Rangers played the Chicago Blackhawks was on November 11th, when the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Rangers 6-3. In that game Artem Anisimov scored a hat-trick.
The Rangers have played well of late, gaining fourteen points out of a possible twenty in the last ten games. Momentum should be high as the Rangers are coming off an exciting Winter Classic win.
Keys to a Rangers victory:
- Although the Rangers are seventh in the league in goal scoring (121 goals for), they have slacked off in recent games. In the Rangers last five games, they have scored an average of 2.6 goals each game. Six out of the Rangers last ten games have gone past regulation. The Rangers need to start closing out games.
- The Rangers power-play was thriving before Mika Zibanejad’s injury (concussion), and Mika Zibanejad has now been back for five games, and in those five games, has not registered a single point. Out of Mika Zibanejad’s twenty-two points this season, half of those cameon the power play. To try to remedy this situation, coach Alain Vigneault will be moving J.T. Miller and Mats Zuccarello along side Mika Zibanejad. When asked about why he did this, Alain Vigneault replied:”I didn’t think Mika’s line was generating a lot 5-on-5,” Vigneault stated. “I thought Nasher was working really hard and he’s already played with Hayesey, and that’s been a good fit. Hayesey and Grabs right now are a real good fit. Just a subtle little move there and hopefully it’ll get Mika going a little bit.”
- Jeff Glass’ confidence is high after performing well in his two last starts, however, he still only has two games of NHL experience. The Rangers must get to Glass early, and start the game well. When leading after the first period, the Rangers will win 73% of the time.
These are two important points up for grabs and with the Columbus Blue Jackets tied with the Rangers at 47 points, and four points separating the Islanders, Hurricanes, Penguins, and Flyers, the Rangers must continue to win.
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