Originally written on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 12/13/11

PHILADELPHIA - JANUARY 12: Brad Richards #91 of the Dallas Stars skates against the Philadelphia Flyers on January 12, 2010 at Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Stars 6-3. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

The New York Rangers enter tonight's contest against the Dallas Stars having won their past two games and seven out of their last ten. Their consistent success has set them up to potentially take over the first place spot in the Eastern Conference this evening, but a couple of things would need to 
happen first. The result of tonight's tilt between the Rangers will not  be the only game impacting the top of the standings; the Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals will have a say in this as well when they square off. 

New York will take over first place if either of the following occurs:

- Rangers defeat the Stars (reg. or OT) and Capitals defeat the Flyers (reg. or OT)

- Stars defeat the Rangers in overtime and Capitals defeat the Flyers in regulation

The Caps and Flyers are both on winning streaks, so that will be an interesting match-up. However, the Rangers must focus on what's in their control, which is tonight's tilt against the Stars at Madison Square Garden. 

The Dallas Stars currently lead their division with a 16-11-1 record and have gone 5-4-1 in their last ten games. The Stars started off much hotter than they are playing now, but still, in third place in the West, they are not a pushover of an opponent by any means. They've had some goaltending problems as of late with Kari Lehtonen injured and Andrew Raycroft not playing to the club's liking. Therefore, rookie Richard Bachman will get his second NHL start tonight after defeating the Kings, 2-1, on Saturday. 

Jamie Benn currently leads the team in scoring with 7 goals and 17 assists. 

A major storyline heading into tonight's game will involve a guy by the name of Brad Richards. Richards, who is tied with Marian Gaborik for the team lead in scoring right now, will be going up against his former Dallas team for the first time since leaving to play in New York over the summer. Brad spent parts of four seasons with the Stars and further stabilized his career there after coming up with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Obviously this game will have an added emotional feel to it for both Richards and his firmer teammates on the other bench. 

Hopefully this will act as just another motivational factor for Richards, because he’s been absolutely outstanding for the Blueshirts in recent games. He finds himself on the scoresheet on a nightly basis and it would feel oh so good to do just that against his former club tonight. 

The Rangers, as a team, will want to put as much pressure on the Dallas defense and goaltender as possible in the early going to hopefully establish an early lead, just as they did on Sunday in their 6-1 win over the Panthers. As far as I'm concerned, one NHL start is not enough to judge a goaltender, so they very well could rattle this kid Bachman with plenty of shots on net early. 

John Tortorella’s squad has returned to their unified way of playing the game, and that’s when they’ve been the most successful this season. If they can get that 100% contribution throughout the lineup again tonight, then they shouldn’t have much of a problem extracting the full two points out of this one. 

New York Rangers Lineup

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