Standings: Stars (16-11-1), Rangers (17-6-4)
Leading Scorer: Jamie Benn (7-17-24)
Goaltender: Andrew Raycroft (3.53 GAA, .900 SV%)
Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik
Ruslan Fedotenko-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin-Brian Boyle-John Mitchell
Brandon Dubinsky-Erik Christensen-Brandon Prust
Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto-Steve Eminger
Jeff Woywitka-Anton Stralman
Henrik Lundqvist gets the start tonight.
Scratches/Injuries: Marc Staal (concussion symptoms), Mike Rupp (knee), Wojtek Wolski (groin), Mike Sauer (concussion), Sean Avery (healthy)
Preview: The Dallas Stars are the real surprise in the Western Conference at the moment. Although no player is really lighting the lamp, they are getting consistent scoring from the usual suspects (Jamie Benn, Mike Ribiero, Loui Eriksson), but they also are getting significant contributions from Eric Nystrom, who they acquired off waivers from Minnesota. It’s funny with Nystrom because they only claimed him on waivers because they were under the salary cap floor when the Rangers waived Sean Avery. Guess the Rangers helped them out twice with Avery.
The biggest reason why Dallas has been so good is because of their goaltending. Kari Lehtonen has been playing like the player he is supposed to be, and it’s earning the Stars wins. The Stars have a negative goal differential (-5) and are middle of the road in GF (73) and GA (78). Their powerplay is atrocious (15.4%), but their penalty kill isn’t too terrible (83.3%), but that’s attributable to goaltending. The numbers don’t agree with the Stars, but Lehtonen is carrying them to wins. Luckily for the Rangers, Lehtonen is out with a groin injury.
What the Stars lack in offense they more than make up for in physical play. They have two guys (Steve Ott, Marc Fistric) with over 80 hits, and another eight guys with over 50 hits. They wear you down with physical play, something the Rangers like to do themselves.
Crazy Thought: Dubinsky shows up.
Opponent’s Blog: Blackout Dallas
Game time tonight is 7pm on MSG, AM1050 and XM214.