Kings/Rangers: Another day, another battle [Game #58 Preview]
Who are they? New York Rangers
What do they want? To put a recent cold streak behind them, and improve on their current playoff spot.
What's their ****ing problem? On Injured Reserve: Chris Drury, Alexander Frolov (knee), Ruslan Fedotenko (shoulder), Derek Boogaard (concussion). Wojtek Wolski (ribs) may return tonight.
Who the **** do they think they are? Many trades and acquisitions have happened since last season: (IN) Alexander Frolov, Steve Eminger, Todd White, Martin Biron, Mats Zuccarello Aasen, Derek Boogaard, Tim Kennedy, Wojtek Wolski (OUT) Olli Jokinen, Jody Shelley, Alex Auld, Aaron Voros, P.A. Parenteau, Anders Eriksson, Michal Rozsival
What, are we supposed to be scared? On the second back-to-back series in a long-ass road trip, the Kings will need to find another level. Though they have points in 10 straight, they face a well-rested club that also happens to have a good record against Western Conference teams (9-5-0).
Last season, the Rangers leaned heavily on the twin pillars of Henrik Lunqvist and Marian Gaborik. While Lundqvist is still putting up impressive numbers (.921 SV%, 7 shutouts) the current season has also been about the emergence of young talent such as Brandon Dubinsky (the team's scoring leader with 19 goals and 42 points), Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan, and Artem Anisimov. Gaborik's production is a bit down, but ex-King Brian Boyle is having a career season (19G 10A) -- sure to cause a new wave of discussion in the comment-sphere.
On special teams, the Rangers struggle with the man advantage (23rd in the league at 16.6%), but have a slightly better scoring rate 5v5. Their penalty kill ranks just about even with ours (8th, 84.1%).
I thought we were friends! Ex-Kings: Frolov, Boyle, Sean Avery. Hit him once for me, Dustin.
Yeah, well, wait till they get a load of: Drew Doughty has scored in the last two games. Jonathan Bernier looks to continue his splendid play of late. Andrei Loktionov is flourishing at center.
This is going to be yet another tough test. Tortorella emphasizes a gritty game -- they'll be looking to pounce on the Kings, who are definitely road weary at this point. But they should also be motivated: two points separate 3rd from 8th, and LA could actually make a grab for the division lead tonight. Let's see what they can do.