NHL on NBCSN: Kings’ crucial road trip continues tonight in New York


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight as the New York Rangers host the L.A. Kings at Madison Square Garden, starting at 7:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The New York Rangers will look to add to their lead in the Presidents’ Trophy race Monday night when they play host to the L.A. Kings in the second and final meeting between last season’s Stanley Cup final participants.

New York (46-18-7) won the only other meeting between the two clubs 4-3 on Jan. 8.

The Rangers enter the game winners of seven of their last eight games while Kings (35-23-14) snapped a two-game skid with a 3-1 win over the New Jersey Devils Monday night.

Tonight is the second of a five-game road trip, which could make or break the Kings’ playoff aspirations.

The Kings currently sit outside the playoff picture trailing the Calgary Flames by two points for the third seed in the Pacific Division. L.A. is four points back of the Winnipeg Jets for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

L.A. is looking to avoid being the first team since the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes to miss the playoffs the year after winning the Stanley Cup.

Mike Richards returned to the Kings’ lineup for the first time since Jan. 21 on Monday. The 30-year-old was a minus-1 in 11:41 of ice time in the win. Monday also marked the return of Alec Martinez to L.A.’s lineup. Martinez had been sidelined since Feb. 7 due to a concussion.

The Rangers are coming off a 7-2 thumping of the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night at the garden.

New York is 16-4-5 against the Western Conference and 11-1-1 against the Pacific Division.

The Rangers are 17-3-3 in 23 games since starting goaltender Henrik Lundqvist was sidelined due to a vascular injury. Cam Talbot is 15-3-3 with a 2.12 goals-against average in Lundqvist’s absence.

Jonathan Quick made 19 saves against the Devils last night. He is 6-3-2 with a 1.86 GAA and two shutouts while making 11 straight starts. Quick owns a 1.97 GAA while winning six of nine meetings with New York, including spring’s Stanley Cup final.

Lundqvist skips practice as wife gives birth to baby girl


New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who has been out of action due to a vascular injury, was supposed to return to practice with his teammates for the first time on Friday.

However, he skipped practice to be by his wife’s side as she gave birth to the couple’s daughter.

The 33-year-old was medically cleared to practice on Tuesday.

According to The Daily News, the earliest Lundqvist could return to the Rangers’ lineup is Thursday night in Ottawa.

Lundqvist was 25-11-3 to go along with a 2.25 G.A.A. and a .922 save percentage prior to being sidelined in early February.

Goalie nods: Talbot gets another start for the Rangers, who aren’t surprised he’s been so good


With an astounding .967 save percentage in his last six starts, Rangers goalie Cam Talbot will be back between the pipes tonight when the Blueshirts, still without starter Henrik Lundqvist, host the Chicago Blackhawks (on NBCSN).

Talbot’s latest triumph came Sunday when he stopped 38 of 39 Florida shots in a 2-1 victory.

Call his play surprising if you want, but the Rangers aren’t shocked.

“It didn’t surprise anybody in here,” d-man Marc Staal said after the Panthers game. “We’re excited for him to get an opportunity to show what he’s got on a consistent basis. He’s been very good for us as a backup. It’s his time to shine.”

No word yet who will start for the ‘Hawks. Corey Crawford made 38 saves last night in beating the Islanders at the United Center, so it could mean Scott Darling’s first appearance since Feb. 27.


Ben Scrivens for the Oilers at home to the Blue Jackets, who are likely to go with Curtis McElhinney.

John Gibson for the Ducks at home to the Kings, who are likely to go with Jonathan Quick.

Related: Andersen or Gibson — who starts for Anaheim in the playoffs?

NHL on NBCSN: ‘Hawks seek revenge for Rangers’ OT win


NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight with a doubleheader. The first game of that series will see the New York Rangers host the Chicago Blackhawks, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET. The Kings and Ducks square off at 10:30 in the nightcap. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the games and pre-show online.

The Chicago Blackhawks have only lost once this month and it was to the New York Rangers. Goaltenders Corey Crawford and Cam Talbot were perfect through 60 minutes when these two squads met for the first time this season on March 8 and it took a Derick Brassard marker 32 seconds into overtime to end the contest in the Rangers’ favor.

“It’s two good teams going at it, fighting for big points right now,” Talbot said at the time, per NHL.com. “They’re trying to climb spots in their division, same as we are, so it’s going to be a battle going down the stretch against teams like that. Every point is huge right now, so it was great we came out with the extra one tonight.”

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A week and a half later, that statement is still largely true. With 90 points in 69 contests, Chicago has the third seed in the Central Division, but is still within striking distance of the Nashville Predators (94 points in 72 contests) and St. Louis Blues (95 points in 70 games). Securing home-ice advantage for as deep into the playoffs as possible could be big given how many dangerous teams there are in the West this season. Beyond that, the simple act of going into the playoffs with momentum on their side could end up being the difference for the Blackhawks.

The main difference is the Rangers are no longer chasing their division rivals. They’ve won five straight to improve to 44-17-7 while the Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins have slumped, giving the Rangers a significant edge in the Metropolitan Division race. At this point, the bigger question for the Rangers is whether or not they’ll win the Presidents’ Trophy. That battle couldn’t be tighter right now as the Rangers are tied with the Blues, Anaheim Ducks, and Montreal Canadiens in terms of points. The Nashville Predators (94 points in 72 games) and Tampa Bay Lightning (93 points in 71 contests) are still in the running too.

The Rangers success has been made even more impressive by the fact that they’ve been missing former Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lundqvist since Feb. 2. Chicago has preserved through similar hardship due to the loss of Patrick Kane.

This is the last time these two teams are scheduled to face each other, although given the strength of their respective rosters and past playoff success, this might end up being a Stanley Cup preview.

The King is back: Lundqvist cleared to return to Rangers practice


Henrik Lundqvist took a significant step towards returning from a vascular injury on Tuesday, as the Rangers announced he’s been medically cleared to return to practice.

Lundqvist, who suffered the injury in late January and hasn’t played since Feb. 2, will begin skating with teammates in the hope of getting back into game action. Per yesterday’s report from The Hockey News, the 33-year-old netminder is targeting his return date on Mar. 24 against Los Angeles — a rematch of the 2014 Stanley Cup Final.

When ready, Lundqvist will rejoin a Blueshirts team that’s thrived in his absence. While some figured the club would take a step back with Cam Talbot as its No. 1 netminder, New York has done the opposite — in 20 games sans-Lundqvist the Rangers have gone a remarkable 15-2-3, vaulting atop the NHL standings.