Posted April 04, 2012 on
AP on Fox
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers know they'll have home-ice advantage for as long as they're alive in the Eastern Conference playoffs, while the Pittsburgh Penguins are hoping to at least open the first round in their own building.
Getting two points Thursday night at Consol Energy Center would ensure that, as the Penguins look for a fourth consecutive victory over a Rangers team that will claim the Presidents' Trophy with wins in its final two games.
Pittsburgh (49-25-6) was the only team that could catch New York for the East's top seed heading into Tuesday's action, but the Rangers took care of business before the Penguins had a chance to make things interesting Thursday. New York scored four times in the first period en route to a 5-3 win at Philadelphia, sweeping the Flyers and locking up the No. 1 seed for the first time since their Stanley Cup-winning edition in 1993-94.
"It is a special moment," Marian Gaborik, who scored his team-leading 41st goal, told the Rangers' official website. "To win the division and the conference is definitely good, and it shows that all year long we have been consistent. We don't want to let up. We want to tune up for the playoffs."
Though the Penguins can no longer get the top seed, the Rangers (51-22-7) may have done them a favor. The Flyers had crept within a point of Pittsburgh for the East's No. 4 seed with Sunday's 6-4 win at Consol, but they're now three back after the Penguins won 5-3 in Boston on Tuesday.
"Toward the end, I'm sure guys were taking a peek a little more at the out-of-town scoreboard," said Sidney Crosby, who had two goals and an assist. "But I think, for the most part, we've got to worry about ourselves and getting points."
Pittsburgh's magic number for home ice in the opening round is two, so a win Thursday or a Flyers' regulation loss to Buffalo that same night will wrap it up. Both clubs losing beyond regulation also would give the Penguins the fourth seed without having to worry about Saturday's regular-season finale against Philadelphia.
Though the Rangers have clinched home ice in the East, the Presidents' Trophy is up for grabs. New York and Vancouver are tied with 109 points, though the Rangers own the tiebreaker due to more non-shootout wins. St. Louis is also still in the mix.
It's not clear how much motivation coach John Tortorella is placing on finishing with the league's best record, but his club may want to send a message to Pittsburgh for a potential playoff meeting. After dropping the series' first two games, the Penguins have outscored the Rangers 11-3 in winning the last three.
Evgeni Malkin has been the driving force, posting four goals and an assist with a plus-5 rating. With 105 points, Malkin has the scoring title all but locked up, but he needs two more goals to become the 16th player in franchise history with 50 in a single season.
The Rangers would love to see Ryan Callahan, who missed a 5-2 home loss to Pittsburgh on March 15, get on the scoresheet. Since the start of last season, they're 5-0-1 against the Penguins when Callahan records a point and 1-4-0 when he's been held without one or been sidelined.
Pittsburgh saw Boston backup Marty Turco on Tuesday and will likely see Rangers backup Martin Biron in this matchup. Henrik Lundqvist had his right arm wrapped in ice following Tuesday's win after being struck by a shot in the second period.
Biron hasn't played since the loss to the Penguins three weeks ago. He's 2-4-1 with a 4.07 goals-against average in his last seven starts against Pittsburgh, a stretch in which Crosby has five goals and 10 assists.
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AROUND THE WEB
Marian Gaborik is enjoying only his third year as a member of the New York Rangers organization, but already he is a name that will forever be recognized in Blueshirt history.
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Per Blueshirt Banter, citing the NHL Network, it appears that Henrik Lundqvist is questionable for Thursday’s showdown against the Penguins. Lundqvist hurt his right forearm after diving to stop a Claude Giroux shot in the second period. He took the shot in the forearm on an unprotected area, and was shown on TV in pain as the second period ended.
Personally, I’ve played goalie...
It took long enough, but it looks like Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards are finally clicking the way the Rangers envisioned last July 2nd when they inked Brad Richards to a huge free agent signing. After playing on the same line together with a left wing spot that was basically a revolving door for the [...]
First place in the Eastern Conference.
It’s been a long 80 games for the New York Rangers, but they’ve officially done it. For the first time since 1993-94, the Blueshirts have clinched the number once spot in the East and in the process have secured home ice through the Conference Finals in the playoffs. Not only that, but they’ve went from battling for a playoff spot at...
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When it comes to Chris Kreider, most people are on the fence about what to do. Many are of the feeling that Kreider will join the Rangers for the playoffs after the Frozen Four is completed. Others, myself included, believe that he will join the organization, but it will be with the Connecticut Whale. Both sides have compelling arguments.
Let’s first kill the first rumor: No one...
While the New York Rangers have already clinched the top spot in both the Atlantic Division and Eastern Conference, the team still has two games left against two solid hockey clubs.
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It’s late and for that I apologise. On to the Musings.
The way Brad Richards has taken his game to a higher level recently is why the Rangers gave him the big dollars. He’s peaking at the right time heading in to the playoffs and the Rangers have a (legitimate) first line for the first time since the Jagr-Nylander-Straka years.
Ryan Callahan deserves a 30 goal season; hopefully...
Received a few questions from readers wondering what Henrik Lundqvist said to Scott Hartnell at the end of the game last night. Well here it is courtesy of Mr. Hartnell.@HLundqvist30 asked me if I tipped our last goal in. I said stop playing so good against us. #hesgood #wewillbeatthemwhenitcounts #playoffs— Scott Hartnell (@Hartsy19) April 4, 2012
...between this and Giroux begging...
The New York Rangers (51-22-7) visit the Pittsburgh Penguins (49-25-6) at CONSOL Energy Center starting at 7:00 p.m. For a preview go to Yahoo! Sports. Rangers Game Notes TV: MSG 2 Click here for complete MSG2 channel listings; Radio: Bloomberg Radio 1130AM, XM 212Live Stream...
April 3rd 2012 may be the day that the New York Rangers clinched the top seed in the NHL's Eastern Conference for the playoffs but it is only just the beginning.
As we have said over the years, this is the best job in the world to because we get to see the future of the Rangers today. We get to watch tomorrow's Rangers as they grow up and work to earn that blue jersey...
Sidney Crosby’s return has apparently been worth the wait. Crosby has 25 points in 15 games, a point-per-game ratio of 1.666, his best ratio in his career. But why has Crosby’s return been so successful? Several responds to his dominance have been that the amount of time that the Penguins staff and doctors took with him really helped him be just as good, if not better, than he...
The New York Rangers (50-22-7) visit the Philadelphia Flyers (46-24-9) at the Wells Fargo Center starting at 7:00 p.m. For a preview go to Yahoo! Sports. Rangers Game Notes TV: MSG 2 Click here for complete MSG2 channel listings; Radio: Bloomberg Radio 1130AM, XM 212Live Stream...
In February, I wrote about how the Philadelphia Flyers were the highest scoring team in the league. They will not finish the season in that position. The Pittsburgh Penguins have taken over that spot. It is no surprise that this happened after Sidney Crosby returned from injury. With Crosby in the lineup, the Penguins have the two highest scoring players in the league in...
Standings: Penguins (49-25-6), Rangers (51-22-7)
NYR Leading Scorer: Marian Gaborik (41-35-76)
PIT Leading Scorer: Evgeni Malkin (48-57-105)
NYR Goaltender: Martin Biron (19 GS, 2.38 GAA, .910 SV%)
PIT Goaltender: Marc-Andre Fleury (62 GS, 2.37 GAA, .910 SV%)
Rangers Lines (probable):
Carl Hagelin-Brad Richards-Marian Gaborik
Brandon Dubinsky-Brian Boyle-Ryan Callahan