Nashville Predators v Colorado Avalanche

Tonight on NBCSN: Rangers look to rebound against red-hot Predators

The New York Rangers have been the talk of the league thanks to taking the lead in the NHL points race and sitting atop the Eastern Conference. The Rangers will have their hands full in dealing with a streaking Nashville Predators team (7:30 p.m. ET) that rolls into Madison Square Garden winners of five in a row.

Nashville’s winning streak has seen them pile up goals as well as seeing Pekka Rinne be unbeatable in goal. With 19 goals in their last five, the Preds are finding ways to uncharacteristically light teams up. Sergei Kostitsyn, Martin Erat, and Patric Hornqvist have been leading the charge filling the net while defensemen Shea Weber and Ryan Ellis have helped do the same.

One issue for the Preds is Ryan Suter’s health. Suter was a surprise starter in their win over the Islanders yesterday but was re-injured and is questionable for tonight’s game. Rinne got the win in yesterday’s game so we might see backup Anders Lindback in goal tonight. (Update 12:01 p.m.: Yes, Lindback gets the start)

The Rangers come into tonight’s game having cooled off a little bit since the Winter Classic. Their tour through Canada’s eastern teams saw them lose a tight one to Ottawa and get run out of the Bell Centre by the Canadiens only managing a win over the Leafs.

A nagging injury to Brandon Dubinsky has seen Wojtek Wolski land back in the starting lineup but coach John Tortorella’s tweaks have all mostly worked out this season. At least the Rangers’ defense has its best player back in Marc Staal to help Henrik Lundqvist out. Dan Girardi and Michael Del Zotto haven’t been too bad either and Del Zotto wants to do more.

They’ll all need to be tough against the grinding and skilled Preds.

Larkin will start season with Red Wings

Dylan Larkin
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Dylan Larkin — despite being just 19 years old — will begin the season on the Detroit Red Wings, a team not normally accustomed to having teenagers in the lineup.

Coach Jeff Blashill confirmed the news this morning. Larkin could apparently start on a line with Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader.

Larkin, the 15th overall pick in the 2014 draft, had three goals and one assist in five preseason games. A natural center, he’s shown the potential to one day step into the kind of “big-time” role that Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk have played for so long in Detroit.

“You have to give our scouts credit,” former coach Mike Babcock told ESPN in May. “We got a great pick where we picked. How high end is he? How soon?”

Related: Coaching change ‘one of the reasons’ Larkin signed with Wings

Preseason stats: Five goalies with good numbers, five goalies with…not

Anders Nilsson
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Yeah, yeah, it’s a small sample size and it’s just the preseason, but here are some goaltending stats anyway.

Five goalies with good numbers

Anders Nilsson, Edmonton — zero goals on 53 shots. His solid play a likely factor in the decision to waive Ben Scrivens, who actually wasn’t that bad in the preseason (4 goals on 56 shots).

Martin Jones, San Jose — three goals on 100 shots. The Sharks are rolling the dice on a couple of cheap goalies. Jones and Alex Stalock have a combined cap hit of just $4.6 million.

Jacob Markstom, Vancouver — three goals on 79 shots. Can he finally get over the NHL hump? If so, he could make it a real competition with Ryan Miller.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Columbus — five goals on 122 shots. The Blue Jackets have scored a ton of goals in the preseason, but there remain questions about their blue line. Bobrovsky has the ability to make a so-so defense look good.

Anton Khudobin, Anaheim — two goals on 67 shots. A good early sign for the Ducks, who have Frederik Andersen in the starting role and want to give young John Gibson more time to develop in the AHL.

Five goalies with bad numbers

Thomas Greiss, Islanders — 14 goals on 94 shots. Has to be a bit of concern in Brooklyn. The Isles got below-average backup play last season from Chad Johnson. They wanted to fix that with the Greiss signing.

Robin Lehner, Buffalo — 11 goals on 95 shots. Tim Murray paid a hefty price to get the 24-year-old out of Ottawa. With the aforementioned Johnson in the backup role, the goaltending story is worth watching.

Jeff Zatkoff, Pittsburgh — 11 goals on 74 shots. Granted, Marc-Andre Fleury and Matthew Murray weren’t particularly sharp either. The Penguins conceded 28 goals in eight games.

Kari Lehtonen, Dallas — 15 goals on 84 shots. For a Stars team that desperately needs better goaltending, that has to be worrying. Antti Niemi wasn’t a whole lot better either, allowing eight goals on 65 shots. Fair question to ask — how many of all those goals were attributable to poor defensive play?

Pekka Rinne, Nashville — 12 goals on 91 shots. Has earned the benefit of the doubt, but thought we’d point it out anyway.