If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
The New York Rangers and head coach Alain Vigneault will stick with the same lineup they deployed in Wednesday's triumphant victory in Chicago tonight against Dallas. Henrik Lundqvist will start in goal, and Dan Carcillo stays in the lineup, with JT Miller remaining a scratch as the Rangers return home to the Garden.
Vigneault liked what he saw in Carcillo's game against the Blackhawks:
"I like what Dan brought. He didn't play a lot, but when he did he was physical and I think we need that element tonight."
Of the 14 games standing between today and the Olympic break, 10 are at Garden. With the two Stadium Series matchups technically counting as road games, one could argue the Rangers are the home team 12 times in their next 14.
Seemingly, that would make it the perfect time for the Blueshirts to go on a run, except the team's home struggles–they're just 8-10-3 at MSG–have been well documented. The Rangers are certainly aware of it. Ryan McDonagh explained that:
"It's been frustrating to us because we want to make this a hard place to play in. If we want to make it to where we want to be, and to make the playoffs, we've got to start getting points here at home and stringing together more wins."
And he's right, the Rangers will need to vastly improve their play on home ice if they are to make the playoffs. The team has often appeared flat–if not even a little anxious–when playing at the Garden this year. The Blueshirts need to come out with energy and get the crowd involved early, as opposed to playing tight and digging themselves an early hole–something that's happened far too often.
The Dallas Stars come to New York losers of 4 straight–including last night in the swamps of Jersey. Not only have they lost, they've done so in spectacular fashion. The Stars have been outscored 19-8 in those 4 losses, including a 7-3 shellacking at the hands of the downtrodden Islanders.
Dallas is very young, but very talented. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn are two of the league's budding young stars, and 18-year old Valeri Nichushkin may be the most gifted player on the team, and could end up winning the Calder. When Lindy Ruff chooses to put the three together as a trio, they're extremely dangerous.
But, despite the Stars talent, right now they are a young, struggling, team that has to be doubting themselves after several lopsided losses. For the Rangers to allow Dallas to get comfortable early and find their footing would be criminal.
It's good the be in the East.
Coming into tonights matchup, the New York Rangers (22-20-3) and the Dallas Stars (20-16-7) have the same amount of points (47). Difference is, the Rangers are just one point back of third place Washington for the Metropolitan Division's final playoff spot, and are in a three way tie for the final Wild Card birth.
Dallas, playing in the loaded West, isn't as fortunate. The Stars currently sit 6 points out of the Wild Card, and 11 points back of third place Colorado in the Central Division.
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