by Patrick Hoffman on 02/19/13 at 09:00 AM ET
Past the quarter mark of the season, every game from here on out is going to get tougher and tougher as the league inches towards the Stanley Cup Playoiffs.
Tonight at Madison Square Garden, the New York Rangers will have a tough test of their own when they take on the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens are currently 10-4-1 and find themselves atop the Northeast Division and one point behind the Eastern Conference leading Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Canadiens also come into tonight's game having won four straight. In those four games, the Canadiens have outscored their opponents 12-4 and have picked-up two shutouts in the process.
At the other end of the ice, the Blueshirts are not doing too shabby either. The club is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games and while they currently sit in the eighth spot in the East, they are not that far behind the fifth place Boston Bruins.
The Rangers are coming off a 2-1 win over the visiting Washington Capitals on Sunday night. The Blueshirts got terrific goaltending from Henrik Lundqvist, great play out of Carl Hagelin and a clutch power play goal in the third period by Derek Stepan.
The game might have been one of the Rangers' best efforts of the season. They threw plenty of pucks on net, did not take many stupid penalties, were perfect on the penalty kill and did all the little things a hockey team needs to do in order to win games.
The Canadiens played yesterday and shutout the Carolina Hurricanes by a score of 3-0. The team will certainly be tired in this back-to-back situation but given that they have won four straight and are doing everything they can to build up a lead in the Northeast Division, do not expect a laxed effort from the Canadiens tonight.
With that said, the Rangers should do everything in their power to get on the Canadiens early and often. The Canadiens will still be a bit tired from playing the day before and might not have their strongest legs so if the Blueshirts can build up a lead in the first and continue that same effort for the next two periods, the Rangers could end up extending their streak to 8-2-1 over their last 11 games.
This will not be the only time the two clubs meet this week as they will be back at it again on Saturday night at the Belle Centre. Expect tonight's game to set the tone for whatever Saturday night's tilt will bring.
Hopefully for the Blueshirts, tonight's game will result in a win and a chance on Saturday to beat the same Canadiens' hockey club.
Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
Tags: boston+bruins, carl+hagelin, carolina+hurricanes, derek+stepan, henrik+lundqvist, montreal+canadiens, new+york+rangers, pittsburgh+penguins, washington+capitals
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.