They will see one another for the third and final time of the regular season a week from tonight at The Garden.
The teams last met on October 30 at in New York and the Rangers, clicking on all cylinders, handed the Lightning a sound 6-1 thrashing. Michael Grabner led the way with a hat trick, while Antti Raanta got his second win of the season by stopping 31-of-32 Tampa shots. Grabner will miss his third consecutive game due to injury, while Raanta will get the nod in goal making just his second start in the team’s last nine games.
The Rangers are coming off yet another game where a physical opponent, this time Montreal, muddied the waters, taking the Rangers out of their skill game and the Blueshirts fell by a 4-1 count. After the game, there was a chastisement from the coach, and a lot of the right things were said with regards to better execution, better effort and being more responsible moving forward.
A disappointed Alain Vigneault says a lot of his players are "fighting it" after the Rangers' 4-1 loss to the Canadiens.
3 KEYS TO RANGERS-LIGHTNING
1. Simple Game
Both the Lightning and the Rangers, if all is equal, would love to play a fast, skill-driven, cute game. Both teams are realizing that come this time of year simple will provide an answer. Straight-line hockey. Stops and starts. Get pucks to the net. Simple but effective stuff.
2. Neutral Zone
At the morning skate, Tampa spent significant time defending the neutral zone knowing just how important that area is to the Ranger attack. The Blueshirts have had trouble on both sides of the puck in the neutral zone and it will be important to clean it up.
The top three Ranger centers have combined for just one goal in their last 48 cumulative games. Alain Vigneault said during the Montreal post game that his top players need to be better. Enough said.
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