Dan Girardi 1

Time To Push The Advantage

Defenseman Dan Girardi has declared himself “good to go” for tonight’s Metropolitan Division clash with the New Jersey Devils.  The Rangers are 1-3-0 against the Eastern Conference so far this season, and are 1-1-0 against teams in their own Division.  The solitary win coming from last Thursday’s 2-1 shootout victory over the injury-depleted Hurricanes.

They go into tonight’s game against New Jersey on the back of Sunday’s 4-0 shutout of the San Jose Sharks, a win that almost proved to be costly.  Both Girardi and fellow defender Kevin Klein suffered injuries in the game that required stitches, though both will be in the line-up tonight.

Henrik Lundqvist is projected to start his fifth straight, having stopped 65 of the last 66 shots he’s faced – not including 3 more shots in the shootout.  That’s good for a 0.985 save percentage, and a miniscule 0.48 goals against average, a substantial turnaround from the previous three games.

The match marks the first time since the 1992-93 season that the Rangers will face the Devils without Martin Brodeur on the roster.  The veteran netminder remains unsigned, and in his place will be his heir Cory Schneider.  The 28 year old netminder started the season with three straight wins, but has allowed 9 of 64 shots through in his last two games against the Capitals and Sharks.

Three of those nine goals came on the power play, and overally the team is 20 for 26 on the penalty kill this season, placing them 21st in the league.  They’ve given up a power play goal in four of their five games to date, and have also given up more power plays that they’ve earned in all but one game.

As for the Rangers, they will be looking to break their power play drought, which has now reached six games.  They are one of four teams still looking for their first power play tally, and are 0 for 17 on the season, having failed on their one opportunity in Sunday’s win.

The Devils boast the oldest roster in the league, with six players over the age of 35 likely to be on the twenty man roster tonight.  That contrasts with the Rangers who have just one – Martin St. Louis – if you discount the injured Dan Boyle.  Fortunately for the home town Devils, they will likely be well rested, having last played Saturday.

Free Agent signing Mike Cammalleri has gotten off to a hot start for New Jersey, with 5 goals and 2 assists in his first five games with the club.  He carries a five game point scoring streak into the game, and has goals in four of his five outings.

Rookie Defender Damon Severson has 3 goals and 1 assist to go with an impressive +6 plus/minus and has been averaging close to twenty minutes a game for the team.  The stats might be a little misleading though, as he registered his four points in just two of his games – 1G 1A vs. Florida and 2G vs. Washington.  Adam Henrique 2G 3A and Michael Ryder 1G 4A are both averaging a point of game.

Injured winger Martin Havlat could play with a visor tonight.  The Czech native endured 55 stitches in his face after a collision with Jason Chimera on the Washington Capitals bent his visor back.  Havlat would likely join Patrik Elias and Cammalleri if he does play.

The Devils also seem likely to start Adam Larsson on defense over Eric Gelinas, and Damien Brunner in place of Tuomo Ruutu on the fourht line.  Larsson has yet to play a game this season.

All time the Rangers are 37-52-7 in New Jersey, and have been 4-3-1 in the last three seasons at the Prudential Center.

Dan Girardi leads all active Rangers with 17 points in 43 games as a Ranger against the Devils.  Carl Hagelin has 4 goals and 7 assists in 14 games, while Rick Nash has 5 goals in 7 games as a Ranger vs. their Hudson River rivals.  Mats Zuccarello rounds out the top performers, with 4 goals and 5 assists in 12 games against NJ.

Henrik Lundqvist is 29-15-1 vs. New Jersey in 50 games, and has an impressive .932 save percentage and 1.87 goals against average.  He has shut out the Devils eight times in his career.

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