Greetings from Columbus where the Rangers are in town to play their Metropolitan Division rival Blue Jackets for the fourth time this season.
The Jackets have won two of the three games the teams have played earlier this season.The clubs last met at the Garden on Jan. 31 and the Blueshirts spotted Columbus a six-spot through two periods. They did manage to score four times in the third, only come out on the losing end of a 6-4 count. The Rangers play six of their next eight against Metro Division opponents.
These head-to-head games could very well play a decisive role in determining postseason seedings and matchups.
Henrik Lundqvist secured his 400th career victory leading the Rangers to their fifth consecutive victory, a 4-2 win over Colorado in their last outing. Columbus is coming off a home ice 2-1 win over Detroit. Since going on a franchise-best 16-game win streak the Blue Jackets are just 8-9-1 in their last 18.
1. Power Play
Both power plays have been fighting it in recent games. Columbus has no goals on the power play in their last eight games, while the Rangers haven’t converted in their last three. New York has also scored just two goals in their last 12 games when playing with the man advantage. The Blueshirts need to come up ice with a little more authority to have a better chance of success.
2. Play with a Lead
In the last two games against Columbus, the Rangers have spotted the Jackets a 4-1 and a 6-0 lead. While they managed to win one of those two tilts, playing with a lead should take some bite out of an emotional Nationwide Arena.
Antti Raanta is making just his 3rd appearance in the Rangers last 17 starts. He needs to get his bearings early and provide his team that all-important timely save.
Catch the Rangers-Blue Jackets game tonight on the MSG Television Network, the MSG Radio Network and ESPN 98.7 FM New York. Pregame at 7 and puck drop a little after 7:30 p.m. Don’t miss it!