Friday evening pucks and the Central Division will square off with the Metro Division as the Minnesota Wild tangle with the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Wild will be playing this game on no rest as they have a game on Wednesday in New Jersey, while the Rangers will also be playing on no rest as they have a game in Montreal on Wednesday night. Goalie Probables: The Wild will be sending out Devan Dubnyk and he will be opposed by Henrik Lundqvist.
Wild Are Looking To Hang On To Playoff Spot
If the playoffs were to start today, then the Minnesota Wild would be in them as an 8th seed. They are tied with the Kings for the 8th as both teams have 71 points, but the Wild currently own the tiebreaker. If they make the postseason, then it would be their 6th year in a row that they did so. They are hoping for better results than the last two years as they were knocked out in the first round in each of those years. They have a game on Thursday night against the Devils and then this one and it is imperative that they do no worse than a split in the two games as they look to hold on to their 8th position in the Western Conference or even move up. Leading the win in scoring this year has been Eric Staal with 26, while Jason Zucker is 2nd with 25 and 3rd is Mikael Granlund with 15. The Wild have gone 12-16 on the road and they have averaged 2.75 gpg and have allowed 3.57 gpg in those games.
Alex Stalock is slated to get the start on Wednesday night, so for this one, it will be Devan Dubnyk and he has gone 24-16 with a 2.61 GAA and a .919 save percentage on the year, including 9-8 with a 3.24 GAA and a .909 save percentage on the road. In his career, he has gone 92-97 with a 2.77 GAA on the road and 26-28 with a 2.84 GAA against the Metro Division, while against the Rangers he has gone 2-3 with a 2.64 GAA.
The Wild have been above average on offense so far as they come in ranked 14th in the league in scoring at 2.95 gpg, while also ranking 27th in shots taken (30.0 spg) and 12th in power play conversions, converting on 20.0% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been above average as well so far as they come in ranked 14th in goals allowed, giving up 2.83 gpg, while also ranking 24th in shots allowed (32.5 spg) and 16th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 19.0% of their chances.
Rangers Are Looking To Get Back In The Race
The New York Rangers started out their season by struggling and then they had a good stretch where they played well, but now they are really struggling and seem to be falling farther out of playoff contention by the day. They currently sit in the 11th spot in the Eastern Conference playoff standings and they are six points out of the 8th spot so they are not really out of contention, but their recent play cannot make their fans feel all that comfortable about them getting into the playoffs. The Rangers have a game in Montreal on Thursday night and they will be entering that game having lost four in a row and 11 of their last 14. The offense has been the real issue of late as they have averaged just 2.00 gpg over their last 10 games. They need to fix their offense or they will have no shot at the postseason. Leading the team in scoring has been Michael Grabner with 25, while Rick Nash is 2nd with 18 and Mika Zibanejad is 3rd with 17. The Rangers have gone 18-14 here at home for the year and they have averaged 3.06 gpg and have allowed 2.88 gpg in those games.
Alexandar Georgiev is slated to get his first career start on Wednesday night when the Rangers visit the Canadiens, so for this one it will be Henrik Lundqvist and he has gone 23-25 with a 2.89 GAA and a .914 save percentage on the year, including 16-10 with a 2.83 GAA and a .910 save percentage here at home. In his career, he has gone 244-176 with a 2.26 GAA here at the Garden and 38-35 with a 2.43 GAA against the Central Division, while against the Wild he has gone 6-5 with a 3.19 GAA.
The Rangers have been a bit below average on offense so far as they come into this game ranked 19th in the league in scoring at 2.83 gpg, while also ranking 18th in shots taken (31.6 spg) and 13th in power play conversions, converting on 20.8% of their chances. At the defensive end of the ice, they have been below average as they come in ranked 23rd in goals allowed, giving up 3.12 gpg, while also ranking 28th in shots allowed (34.0 spg) and 8th in penalty kill, allowing teams to convert on 17.6% of their chances.
- 4-1 in their last five Friday games
- 7-2 in their last nine vs. the Eastern Conference
New York is:
- 1-7 in their last eight vs. the Central
- 1-5 in their last six vs. a team with a winning record
The Rangers are in trouble at the moment and it starts with their offense which has averaged just 2.00 gpg over their last 10 games, but they have also allowed 4.00 gpg over the same stretch. The Rangers have won just three of their last 11 games and I just don’t see them turning things around in this one. The Wild are the better team in this one and they have gone 10-6 in their last 16 games, plus they did just beat the Rangers at home by a score of 3-2. Both teams need this game in the worst way and both are playing on no rest and I see the Wild coming up with the effort needed to walk away with a huge road win.