Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 1/24/12

 

For some reason it has felt like a year and a day since Saturday's thrilling 3-2 overtime win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. It's probably because the anticipation leading up to that game was so great league-wide with the first and second place teams in the Eastern Conference squaring off for the first time this season. The NHL couldn't have asked for a better game, minus Andrew Ference's hit in the third period, from two skilled hockey clubs that battled like warriors until the game was finally decided by Marian Gaborik's game-winner late in the extra period. 

 

The New York Rangers are riding high after that victory, especially since they were able to overcome much adversity throughout the contest to eventually capture the full two points in the standings. They will look to carry that momentum into tonight's meeting with the Winnipeg Jets at Madison Square Garden - the team's final match before the All-Star break. A win tonight would guarantee that the Blueshirts lead the East heading into the break, so this game holds more importance than what appears on the surface. 

New York is currently 30-12-4 on the season with 64 points, and has posted a 7-3-0 record in their last ten games. Prior to the win in Boston, the Rangers performed poorly in a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at MSG. In fact, they've been very streaky as of late with a 3-2-0 record in their last five tilts. What we saw against the Bruins was the complete team effort that we are used to seeing from the squad, and that's what will need to be brought to the table this evening. 

The Jets, on the other hand, have struggled greatly recently. They are coming off a rough loss last night to the Hurricanes in Carolina, and have won just three of their last ten games. For obvious reasons, this is a hockey team that the Rangers should absolutely steamroll over, but they also cannot be taken lightly. They will work hard until the final buzzer, as they did in Carolina, and before Saturday, the Blueshirts have struggled to put together 60-minute efforts. 

The Rangers have met the Jets twice before this season, winning both and outscoring Winnipeg, 5-1, in the process. Marty Biron started both games between the pipes; he allowed just one goal in the first outing and posted a shutout in the second back on November 6. He will be getting the start in net for the Blueshirts in tonight's game, giving Henrik Lundqvist an entire week of rest before participating in All-Star Weekend this coming Saturday and Sunday. 

My player to watch tonight is Marian Gaborik since he's started to heat up again following a miniature slump in early January. Gaborik obviously scored two huge goals in the win over Boston, but also has a four-game point streak going at the moment. As we’ve seen many times this season, Gabby is nearly unstoppable when hot, so I'm expecting a big performance from number 10 tonight in front of the home crowd. 

The lineup for tonight's game is expected to remain the same as it was against the Bruins, including defenseman Ryan McDonagh. McDonagh was questionable for this one after being on the receiving end of a dirty hit in Boston, but he practiced yesterday and confirmed that he will be good to go for tonight's contest. 

New York Rangers Lineup

 

 

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