PREVIEW: Oilers at Rangers
Oilers face New York Rangers in second-last game before the Olympic break
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NEW YORK - The Edmonton Oilers will try and spoil a historic night for the Rangers at Madison Square Garden as tonight, New York plays in its 6,000th regular season game.
AT THE MORNING SKATE
Playing in a city like ‘The Big Apple’ and in front of a crowd at Madison Square Garden can be quite the experience.
“This is a special place to play,” Oilers Head Coach Dallas Eakins said. “Whenever you can come into Madison Square Garden, with its great history (against) a team with great history, I don’t know how you are not fired up for the game. I was fortunate enough to play a few games in this building and it was an extremely exciting time to just step out on that ice with the building full.”
This is the first time since November 14, 2010 that the Oilers have played the Rangers in New York City.
“There’s only one MSG,” Oilers winger David Perron said. “That’s been going on forever it seems, so it’s really cool. I think I’ve only played one other game here. I think it might have been my second or third year, the way the schedule was back then. It’s a lot of fun every time.”
RANGERS ON PATROL
New York has its first four-game winning streak of the season and have been finding the back of the net with ease as of late. They will be a tough task for an Oilers team that has won four of its last five and in search of a positive close to their schedule prior to the Olympic break.
“Personally, it’s just going to be a matter of trying to play my game, try and see pucks, try and give my ability to try and stop it,” Oilers goalie Ben Scrivens said. “As a group, we’ve got to come out with some gusto and be able to match them. They’re a great team, especially with their starts. They took it to Colorado in their last game, especially early on. We’ve got to be ready for it and try to match it.”
Scrivens is referring to a 5-1 victory over the Avalanche at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night.
“They’re going to come out flying,” Perron said. “They have a lot of things to prove. They want to be in the playoffs and I think they’ve been playing a lot better hockey lately and we have too. It’s going to be a big game for us. Heading into the break, it would be nice to get those two next wins and look at the last ten games, whatever our record is, and we can build on that.”
The Oilers will start Scrivens tonight in NYC. The Oilers netminder has a 2.21 goals against average and a .944 save percentage in five games with Edmonton. After facing a high volume of shots in his last few starts, Scrivens says he isn’t preparing for to see that again. Every game is unique.
“Each game is its own individual entity,” he said. “Obviously, we’ve been trying to address it. With that being said, I don’t put myself in a spot mentally going into it where oh, I’ve got to prepare for this specific scenario or this is the exact way it’s going to go. Because, the game is so dynamic that you never know. You don’t want to put yourself behind the eight-ball mentally. You just come in, try and make the first save and after you get that one, just focus on the next one.”
Scrivens has played very well in his last three starts with performances of 34, 59 and 37 saves. However, the goaltender says he doesn’t dwell on his personal successes and whether or not he feels like he’s on a hot streak.
“I don’t know where I am like that, I just try to stop the puck.”
-- Chris Wescott, edmontonoilers.com
NHL.COM GAME PREVIEW
OILERS (19-33-6) at RANGERS (31-23-3)
TV: SNET-W, MSG
Last 10: Edmonton 4-5-1; New York 7-3-0
Big story: The Oilers split the first two games of a pre-Olympic break four-game road trip that ends Friday against the New Jersey Devils. They're facing a hot Rangers team that has won four straight and is 8-3-1 at home since Dec. 22.
Oilers: Edmonton entered its four-game trip with three straight wins before losing 4-0 to the Boston Bruins on Saturday. Ilya Bryzgalov made 42 saves for the Oilers in a 3-2 win Monday against the Buffalo Sabres, continuing a remarkable stretch by Edmonton's goaltenders that was highlighted by Ben Scrivens' historic 59-save shutout of the San Jose Sharks on Jan. 29.
The win in Buffalo came courtesy of Matt Hendricks' game-winning shorthanded goal 57 seconds into the third, his second score since being acquired by Edmonton on Jan. 15.
"The guys have been great, from the top of the organization through the coaching staff through every player," Hendricks said after the game. "They really have a class-act organization."
The Oilers' recent success has coincided with the improved play of Nail Yakupov. The top pick in the 2012 NHL Draft has struggled this season but is finding his stride with four points during Edmonton's 4-1-0 stretch. He was rewarded this week by coach Dallas Eakins, who put him on the first line during practice on Wednesday alongside top scorer Taylor Hall and No. 1 center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Rangers: A 5-1 home victory against the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday gave New York its first four-game winning streak of the season. The Rangers are playing their best hockey and doing it as a team, rolling four forward lines and relying on three solid defensive pairings, a situation enabled with the acquisition of veteran defenseman Kevin Klein from the Nashville Predators on Jan. 22.
The Rangers' balanced offense has generated 18 goals in the past four games. Remarkably, the only forward not to score in that span is Chris Kreider, who has been one of the team's most dangerous snipers all season. Kreider is still contributing on New York's top line, and offense seems to be coming from all different sources.
"All four lines are scoring big goals. Maybe in the past it's been more about the first line," goaltender Henrik Lundqvist said after the win against Colorado. "It's great to see the competition between the lines. They all want to be the line to score the big goal."
Despite the offensive cohesion, rumors have surfaced that impending free agent Ryan Callahan could be traded. The Rangers captain responded Tuesday with two goals, including the game-winner, and a big statement after the game.
"That's where I want to be," Callahan said. "On the ice playing for the Rangers."
Who's hot: Oilers forward David Perron has three goals and five points in his past four games. Defenseman Justin Schultz has three goals in his past five games. … Lundqvist has allowed three goals in his past three starts for the Rangers and stopped 95 of 98 shots for a .969 save percentage. Linemates Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard have six points each during their respective four-game point streaks.
-- Tal Pinchevsky, NHL.com