Posted December 13, 2011 on
AP on Fox
Michael Del Zotto
New York Rangers
The New York Rangers continue to show they belong among the Eastern Conference elite. Over the next week, they'll test themselves against the West.
The Rangers face a second straight division leader when they host the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night in Brad Richards' first game against his former team since joining New York.
The Rangers (17-6-4) have gone 7-1-1 in their last nine to move within a point of conference-leading Philadelphia. After back-to-back losses, they closed the week with strong performances in a 4-1 victory over Buffalo on Saturday and a 6-1 win over Southeast Division-leading Florida on Sunday.
Derek Stepan had two goals and an assist against the Panthers, Marian Gaborik had a goal and an assist and Henrik Lundqvist had 20 saves, improving to 10-2-1 with a 1.91 goals-against average since Nov. 1.
"We don't want to get ahead of ourselves," defenseman Michael Del Zotto said. "It's pretty early in the season and anything can happen, but with what we've done so far it shows the team we have. We want to keep moving forward."
Balanced scoring has been key during the last nine games. Seven players have scored at least three goals during that stretch, including Gaborik (six) and Artem Anisimov and Richards (five apiece).
Richards provided similar production during three-plus seasons in Dallas, totaling 70 goals and 157 assists from 2008-2011. He joined the Rangers in July on a nine-year, $60 million contract.
Richards recorded four goals and an assist in seven games against the Stars during his first six-plus NHL seasons with Tampa Bay. Defenseman Jeff Woywitka, who played for Dallas the last two seasons and was claimed off waivers by the Rangers in October, will also face his former team for the first time since departing.
The Rangers believe the play in front of their own net is helping lead to goals on the other end. They've killed off 14 straight penalties and converted five of their last 18 chances with the man advantage.
"I think our defense is a big part of our offense," Stepan said. "I think the big thing is we have the puck more and we're able to make plays."
The Rangers are 4-1-2 against teams from the Western Conference this season and they'll get a chance to build on that mark this week. A stretch of three straight against West teams starts with Pacific Division-leading Dallas (16-11-1), which is expected to start rookie goaltender Richard Bachman for a second time.
The Stars snapped a two-game losing streak with a 2-1 win over Los Angeles on Saturday, with Bachman making 26 saves in his first career start.
He stopped all 11 shots he faced in his season debut Thursday at San Jose, when he replaced a struggling Andrew Raycroft in a 5-2 loss.
"I think he deserves another start, most likely against the Rangers," coach Glen Gulutzan told the team's official website. "We'll give him that opportunity and see if he can run with it. We have confidence in him. He played 60 games for me last year (with Texas of the AHL), so we have no problem putting him in. I think his play has earned it."
Raycroft started the previous four games and gave up 10 goals in the last two. Dallas is missing Kari Lehtonen, who is sidelined by a groin strain.
The Stars begin a stretch of three games in four nights in the New York area. After facing the Islanders on Thursday, the Stars' road trip concludes Friday against New Jersey.
Dallas has dropped its last two against New York, the most recent a 3-2 shootout loss Jan. 7.
BEST OF MAXIM
AROUND THE WEB
In a piece on Brad Richards facing his former team the Dallas Stars tonight for the first time since signing with the Rangers, Larry Brooks at the New York Post reports on why the All Star center would not waive his no-move clause to be traded to the Blueshirts at the deadline last year..."...according to an individual with knowledge of the situation, he declined to waive his...
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 ...
During last night's 6-1 Rangers victory over the Florida Panthers, Brad Richards briefly left the game to receive stitches after taking a puck to the mouth (via Rangers Rants)....i think my heart skipped a beat when Micheletti mentioned that Richards had gone into the locker room with Jim Ramsey.For a pic of Marian Gaborik with @TheBroadwayHat click the "Read More"...
By Christopher Decker (@HockeyGuy_Chris)
(Photo by Scott Levy/NHLI via Getty Images)
There have not been many big-name free-agent signings that worked out well for the Rangers in the past 10 years or so. But the biggest and brightest signings that have brought the Rangers organization back to its feet and rejuvenated an entire fan base were the signings of Jaromir Jagr (who has...
Set to begin the eastern part of their five-game road trip, the Dallas Stars will visit a familiar face tonight as they visit Brad Richards and the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Brad Richards plays his 800th NHL game, against the team he left as a free agent in July.
Pre-game notes, courtesy of the Rangers:
NEW YORK RANGERS vs. DALLAS STARS
Tuesday, Dec. 13, 7:00 p.m.
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Rangers: 17-6-4 (38 pts)
Stars: 16-11-1 (33 pts)
* All information through NHL games on Dec. 11
The Rangers will face-off against...
A very busy and compact NHL schedule for tonight.
Early games start just after 7:00pm ET and the last game should end around 11:30pm.
Highlights include Jagr returns to Washington, Wings and Penguins battle (Malkin and Staal are game time decisions along with all the other injuries the Pens have) and Brad Richards faces his old team, the Dallas Stars in New York.
View the full...
NEW YORK - Brad Richards faced his most-recent former team for the first time while skating in his 800th NHL game...
The New York Rangers dominated from start to finish in a 6-1 domination over the Florida Panthers.
Derek Stepan scored twice including a tremendous end to end rush early in the second period as a penalty expired. Marian Gaborik, Artem Anisimov, Brad Richards and Steve Eminger got in on the act.
The Rangers special teams was excellent tonight as they tallied twice and killed off...
Dallas Stars (16-11-1, 33 pts) @ New York Rangers (17-6-4, 38 pts)
6:00 PM CT, December 13, 2011
Madison Square Garden, New York, New York
Richard Bachman got his first win in the NHL in his first start in the Stars 2-1 win over the LA Kings. Tonight, he faces a much stiffer test as the Stars hit the East Coast for three games in the New York/ New Jersey area. Their opponent tonight...
Since winning games in bunches like they have for the past month and a half became common, one thing the New York Rangers have done very well is bouncing back after losses. Earlier in the week, the Blueshirts lost two close games to the Toronto Maple Leafs and Tampa Bay Lightning, but rebounded this weekend with back-to-back complete defeats of the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers...
Here are the interviews from the lockerroom, and from the coach’s press conference.
“People here put a lot more work into how they dress.”
“As a whole team, I was surprised that everyone was so well turned-out. Unlike other cities, you’re meeting people who work in fashion and are exposed to designers.”.
“The aura of Sean [Avery] pushing people in what they wear isn’t really true. He’ll toy with certain things that are a little off the wall. Everybody...
This was the lead to my story in The Journal News and on LoHud.com about last night’s game:
Get ready, hockey fans. The NHL is going to shove more nights like this down your throats with realignment.
More non-conference games, more games with zero playoff implications. Less passion. Quieter arenas.
The Rangers and Dallas Stars put a library-like Madison Square Garden to...