Game to Watch
Nashville Predators (26-15-4) at New York Rangers (28-11-4)
Nashville is on a roll as they arrive at Madison Square Garden to square off with the Atlantic Division-leading Rangers. The Predators beat the New York Islanders 3-1 Monday to tie a season-long winning streak of five games. During the streak, netminder Pekka Rinne and the rest of the Nashville defense has been outstanding with only eight goals allowed despite giving up at least 29 shots in each contest. Offensively, the Predators have been just as impressive by averaging nearly four goals per game in the five victories. This combination of success on each end of the ice has propelled Nashville to 12th in the NHL in both offensive and defensive efficiency. However, continuing its streak won’t be easy against New York. The Rangers are 13-4-2 in their home arena, and have lost only three times overall since December 17th. Not surprisingly, the chief reason for this success has been the play of all-star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist. Lundqvist is 19-9-4 and allowing just under two goals per contest, which makes him the anchor of the leagues 3rd best defense. With that being said, tonight’s matchup will likely come down to the battle in net between the two clubs. They possess similar offensive attacks, so the better goalie should lift its team to victory. And, based on the less than impressive start from Lundqvist Sunday against the Montreal Canadiens, I’ll take his Rangers in a rebound performance today.
Prediction: Predators 2, Rangers 3
Player to Watch
Steven Stamkos, Center, Tampa Bay Lightning
Let’s be honest, Tampa Bay is a huge underdog heading into tonights matchup with the Boston Bruins. The Lightning have lost seven straight, while the Bruins have been rolling. So, what then can be the difference if there is to be an upset? Steven Stamkos.
Stamkos is the NHL’s 3rd-leading point scorer with 50, and is at the top in goals scored. His 30 goals not only lead the league, but is six more than any other player. He also is on a four-game point streak that has included two goals and three assists despite his teams poor play.
However, extending this streak won’t be easy against Tim Thomas and the NHL’s top defensive unit. Stamkos will need to capitalize on power play and odd-man rush opportunities if he is to carry the Lightning to a shocking victory.
Prediction: 1 goal, 1 assist, 6 shots on goal
OMG Stat of the Night
Los Angeles Kings Offense
The Kings eclipsed the 100 goal mark on January 14th after 45 games — well over halfway into the season. This came more than a month (13 games) after the leagues top offensive team, the Boston Bruins. Los Angeles was also the final team in the NHL to reach this plateau, and they remain the leagues worst goals scoring team (2.2 per game). But, somehow they are only two points behind San Jose in the Pacific Division.