Pavelec Gets The Nod As Rangers Host Stars

The Rangers take on the Dallas Stars tonight at Madison Square Garden.

The game marks the first meeting between the teams on the season. The Blueshirts are coming off a very solid bounce-back 5-2 victory over the Devils. That win came within 24 hours of a 4-2 loss in Washington where the Rangers fought back from a two-goal deficit only to lose in the final five minutes of the hockey game. The frustration that was evident in the locker room after the defeat at the hands of the Capitals, was replaced by an upbeat confidence post game against the Devils.

[Watch Rangers-Stars on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]

Visibly angry after the loss to Washington and equally visibly pleased after the win over New Jersey was Henrik Lundqvist. There is no player on the roster that lives and dies with the results more than Lundqvist. While he is wonderfully patient in the media scrum after every game, there is not a doubt that his analysis has a decidedly different feel when the club wins. The King is not who he is by taking losing lightly, an important part of the makeup of the guy who has been the franchise’s most important player for the past decade.

Lundqvist will get the night off this evening, and Ondrej Pavelec will make his eighth appearance of the season. The Rangers have done a great job of getting back into the hunt of things that is the Metro Division and with the schedule picking up in intensity, Pavelec will become a bigger factor moving forward. Pavelec is coming off a well-earned, 41-save win over Pittsburgh in his last start. Over the past couple of seasons, the backup goaltenders have delivered points and Pavelec will be asked to do that very same thing.

Much preseason punditry opined that the Dallas Stars were set up to be postseason participants after missing out in last spring’s playoff run. An offseason coaching change and an aggressive presence in the free agent market gave reason for such observation. The Stars have gone without a win in their last three starts and are tied for the final wild-card spot in the West. Despite the recent stumbles Dallas is not be taken lightly. There is no reason to think that they are not playoff worthy.


1. Drive the Emotion

An early in the week game against an out of conference opponent, Dallas, a team that brings very little head-to-head history with them, lends to a less than crackling emotional environment. The Rangers need to take it upon themselves to generate the emotion that is needed to win a game that sets up as just another game in the long NHL regular season.

[Carpiniello: Rangers Finding Their Balance]

2. Dump it Early

The first three possessions against the Devils, the Rangers got the puck and simply dumped it in the offensive zone and went after it. It set the pace for an efficient 60 minutes and would serve to do the same against the Stars.

3. Power Play

The power play continues to struggle in the absence of Mika Zibanejad, scoring just twice in their last seven games. The good news is that Dallas has offered up 25 power play opportunities in their last six games and has given up four power play goals in the past three games.

[Watch Rangers-Stars on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]