Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the New York Rangers hosting the L.A. Kings on Rivalry Night at 7 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• Stanley Cup Final rematch…The Rangers host the Kings tonight in the first meeting at Madison Square Garden since the Rangers staved off elimination in Game 4 (2-1 win) of last season’s Stanley Cup Final. The Kings won the series in Game 5 in LA (3-2 in 2OT; series-clinching goal by Alec Martinez) to capture their 2nd Stanley Cup in the last 3 seasons.
• This is the 2nd and final meeting of the season…In the first meeting, NYR won 4-3 at LA back on Jan. 8th during a stretch where the Rangers had ultimately gone 13-1-0 including a California sweep, winning at ANA, LA & SJ in the same season for the first time in franchise history.
• Contrary to the series last postseason, it was New York, not LA, who overcame a deficit in their first meeting this season for the win…down 2-0 in the 1st, NYR scored 4 unanswered goals…Martin St. Louis is credited with the game winner (LA overcame a 2-goal deficit to win Game 1 & 2 of SCF).
• Presidents’ Trophy outlook: No team in the NHL has more points than the New York Rangers…No team has played fewer games than the Rangers…The Blue Shirts are on the verge of being the first team to reach 100 points this season (their first 100-point season since 2011-12; 109 pts).
• Since the inception of the Presidents’ Trophy in 1985-86, New York has won the award twice, most recently in the 1993-94 season, when they went on to win their last Stanley Cup.
• The last 2 Presidents’ Trophy winners had different postseason fates: the Bruins lost in the second round last season while the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup back in 2013.
• Ultimate goals…The Rangers & Kings each look to become the first team to reach the Stanley Cup Final in consecutive seasons since the Red Wings & Penguins met each other in the Cup Final in 2008 & 2009.
• Late-season surges have been the identity of LA in recent years. In each of the past 3 seasons, they have not clinched a playoff spot until the very end
of the season.
• With 10 games to go last season, LA had 88 points and sat 3rd in the Pacific Division.
• What’s also at stake for LA…The Kings can become the first repeat champ since DET won in 1997 & 1998…on the other end of the spectrum, they could become only the 4th team since the 1967-68 expansion to miss the playoffs the season after winning the Cup, joining CAR (2006-07), NJ (1995-96) & MTL (1969-70).
• Best start in franchise history…The Rangers are challenging their best regular season in franchise history…
• For NYR, the last time they won the Stanley Cup (1993-94) was a record-setting regular season in both wins (52) & points (112), both marks still stand as franchise bests. Here is NYR through 71 games in club history:
• Division title…New York needs 12 points to clinch its 1st division title since 2011-12, when they reached the conference finals, and only 2nd in the last 20 seasons.
• With 4 more points, (potentially a win tonight and at OTT on Thursday), the Rangers would secure their 5th straight postseason appearance – their longest such streak since making 10 consecutive trips from 1978-1987.
• Crunch time for LA: Though the Kings are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, they remain on the outside of the playoff picture with 10 games remaining.
• LA opened its challenging 5-game road trip with a 3-1 win vs. NJ last night.
• Though LA has a poor overall road record this season (13-14-7), they have improved of late going 8-2-1 in their last 11 road contests. The Kings only have 3 home games remaining out of their final 10.
• Rangers rolling…Teams might have longer active winning streaks than the Rangers but the Blue Shirts very well may be the hottest team in the league right now…New York has earned a point in 9 of its last 10 (8-1-1).
• During this 10-game stretch, the Rangers have still yet to allow more than 2 goals in a game and have only allowed 2 twice. This is the first time they have accomplished that since Feb. 20 – March 18, 1971 (12 GP).
• NYR in last 10 games: 11 total goals allowed
• Rangers offensive outburst…The Rangers scored a season-high 7 goals against the Ducks on Sunday night (after scoring 6 total goals in their previous 4 games and only 13 over their previous 8).
• The 7 goals at home were the most by NYR at The Garden since Mar. 6, 2011 (vs. PHI).
RANGERS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• Injury alert…The Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist, who suffered a vascular injury in his throat on Jan. 31 vs. CAR (and last played on Feb. 2 vs. FLA), was medically cleared to practice with the team last Tuesday.
• The next step in his recovery was skating with the team this morning, his first organized team skate since the injury. If all goes well, Lundqvist will dress for a practice on Wednesday and fly with the club for a 2-game road trip to OTT & BOS. The Rangers return home for a Sunday matinee game against Washington. It is unclear when he will make his first start back.
• Martin St. Louis (NYR) was originally expected to miss 10-14 days after suffering a lower-body injury on Mar. 15 vs. FLA. No update on his status has been given.
• Another variable in the mix which caused Lundqvist to miss practice on Friday is the fact that his wife, Therese, gave birth to their 2nd child, Juli (both girls), that day…Lundqvist posted to his Twitter account after:
“My little girl is here!!…Everyone is doing great. She did not get the memo of me returning to practice today so we’ll try that again. …”
• Rick Nash on Lundqvist, “For sure it will be great to have our leader back. He’s so competitive; that’s why he’s one of the best goalies in the world. Family comes first; that’s for sure. But now we know he will be back.”
• The Rangers have gone 17-3-3 without Henrik Lundqvist
• Winning with Cam: 27-year old undrafted goalie Cam Talbot, in his 2nd NHL season, has started 21 of the 23 total Rangers games since Lundqvist has been out. Sunday night vs. ANA, Talbot stopped 36 of 38 shots
including all 21 in the 2nd & 3rd period.
• Talbot has gone 7-1-1 in his last 9 start: 1.21 GAA, .961 SV%
• Talbot played in the LA game earlier this season: 3 GA on 31 shots
• Talbot this season: 19-7-4, 2.13 GAA (4th in NHL), .929 SV% (2nd in NHL)
• The Rangers lead the league with 11 shutouts on the season, including 5 by Talbot & 5 by Lundqvist. No other Ranger team has had two goalies each record at least 5 shutouts in the same season.
• Jennings Trophy…awarded to goalie (s) of the team with the fewest goals scored against on the season…the Rangers trail the Canadiens by 2 goals in this category for the league lead…
• Typically shared by 2 goalies (min. 25 GP necessary)…oddly enough, since Henrik Lundqvist entered the league in 2005-06, only in his rookie season has another Ranger goalie even played 25 games in a season (Kevin Weekes; 32) – Talbot has played 32 games this season.
KINGS TEAM/PLAYER NOTES
• Marian Gaborik had 2 assists last night in New Jersey. Now in his 14th season, the 33-year-old was the 3rd overall pick in the 2000 draft by MIN. After 8 seasons in MIN, Gaborik played for the Rangers for 3+ seasons (229 pts in 255 games). He has played for the Kings since March of last season when he was traded from CBJ.
• Gaborik led all players last postseason with 14 goals in 26 games, including 2 in the Stanley Cup Final.
• Mike Richards was recalled from Manchester (AHL) over the weekend, and he played for the Kings last night (0 points, 11:41 TOI) for the first time since Jan. 21st (missed 24 games).
• Richards was waived and subsequently sent to the minors in late January (14 points in 16 AHL games). His last game for Manchester was March 8, and he had since been in Southern California for on and off-ice tests to establish a baseline for his conditioning.
• Richards is in the 7th year of a 12-year/$69 million deal through 2020 (cap hit 5.75M).
• Richards, a 2-time Cup Champion with LA, has been with the Kings since the start of the 2011-12 season.
• LA has struggled to get goal-scoring from captain Dustin Brown. The Ithaca, NY, native has seen his goal production decline in every season since scoring 28 goals in 2010-11.
• He has just 10 goals in 72 games this season (on pace for his lowest total since his rookie season in
2003-04), including 15 straight without a goal (only 1 assist in that span).
• Anze Kopitar factored in all 3 Kings goals last night with 1 goal & 2 assists. He has led the team in scoring each of the past 7 seasons & once again leads LA with 57 points this season.
• Kopitar has points in 3 straight games and 12 points overall in his last 10 games.
• Andrej Sekera scored for the first time as a King last night – he opened the game’s scoring with a goal in the 1st.
• In 12 games w/ LA since being acquired from CAR, Sekera has 3 pts (1G-2A) while averaging 18:42 TOI/G.
• Alec Martinez (concussion) played his first game since Feb. 7th last night (missed 19 games). He had 3 shots on goal and registered 16:23 TOI.
• Martinez scored the Stanley-Cup winning goal last year against the Rangers in double overtime of Game 5.
• Jonathan Quick ranks t-2nd in the NHL with 62 starts this season. Since Feb. 7, his numbers are far more impressive than they were over the first half of the season including 19 saves on 20 shots last night at NJ.