March 23 – Day 160 – Rubber game

It was an easy game plan for the Lightning in yesterday’s Game of the Day, as they used two goals a period to beat the Red Wings 6-2.

Tampa Bay earned the lead they would not yield after only 1:47 of play courtesy of a First Star of the Game Erik Condra wrister, assisted by Third Star Ondrej Palat (his 16th helper of the season) and Brian Boyle.  Vladislav Namestnikov doubled that lead 8:08 later with a wrister of his own, assisted by J.T. Brown (his 14th helper of the season).  Starting the formula, the Bolts held their at those two tallies for the remainder of the period.

Even quicker than they scored in the first period, Tampa scored their game-winning goal in the second.  Steven Stamkos fired a wrister only 33 seconds after resuming play (his 34th tally of the season), assisted by Nikita Kucherov and Second Star Victor Hedman.  Detroit began trying to stage a comeback, as they also scored two goals in the second – the first of which found the back of the net at the 8:08 mark on a Justin Abdelkader power play wrister, assisted by Henrik Zetterberg (his 32nd helper of the season) and Niklas Kronwall.  With 4:35 remaining in the frame, the Wings pulled within a goal after Darren Helm fired a wrister assisted by Pavel Datsyuk (his 27th helper of the season) and Anthony Mantha, but Tampa scored their first of three insurance goals 2:17 later on a Kucherov power play wrister (his 28th tally of the season), assisted by Tyler Johnson and Stamkos to nip that in the bud.  The 4-2 score held into the second intermission.

Another quick start gave the Lightning a two goal advantage, as Palat’s backhander only 1:03 after resuming play, assisted by Johnson and Hedman (his 34th helper of the season) extended their lead to three.  The Bolts‘ final tally was Condra’s second of the game, assisted by Boyle at the 16:56 mark, setting the score at the 6-2 final.

Ben Bishop earns the win after saving 23 of 25 shots faced (92%), while Jimmy Howard takes the loss after saving 13 of 16 (81.3%).  He was replaced after Stamkos’ second period goal by Petr Mrazek, who saved 15 of 18 (83.3%) for no decision.

Tampa Bay‘s win makes it two straight for the home sides, setting the DtFR Game of the Day series at 72-41-17, favoring the home sides by 33 points over the roadies.

I hope you enjoyed all the games yesterday, because this evening has only two matchups to offer.  Even better, they’re both occurring not even five miles apart, so it’s doubtful they’re happening anywhere near you.  The first drops the puck at 7 p.m. between Ottawa and the New York Islanders (TVAS/SN), followed an hour later by Boston visiting the New York Rangers (NBCSN/SN1).

Seeing as Ottawa trails Philadelphia by seven points for the final spot in the postseason, we’ve gotta keep an eye on the important battle for playoff position that will take place in Madison Square Garden.

UnknownNew York Rangers Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Tonight’s game will be Boston‘s 18th in the Game of the Day series where they own a 7-9-1 record, with their most recent being their 4-0 loss in Anaheim on Friday.  New York has been featured 19 times before tonight’s game, and own a 10-7-2 record such contests.  Their most recent was March 13, a 5-3 loss on home ice to the Penguins.

The 39-26-8 Boston Bruins currently sit in third place in the Atlantic Division and sixth in the Eastern Conference.  It has been their offense that has gotten them there, as they’ve scored the third most goals, but also given up the 13th most scores.  A more in-depth analysis of Boston‘s game can be found within Friday’s article.

A win tonight does two things for the Bruins, the less of which is expanding their lead over the Red Wings to five points for the final division qualifier.  More important is catching the slipping Panthers for the second spot, and they would pull within a point of doing just that.

The 41-24-8 New York Rangers currently occupy second place in both the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference.  They’ve also be a stronger offensive team, scoring the sixth most goals in the league, but give up the 15th most scores in the process.

Even with Derek Stepan’s 168 shots, the Rangers have fired the puck only 2084 times, but an incredible 9.8% have found the back of the net for 207 goals (led by Derick Brassard’s 25 tallies), the sixth most in the league.  What is surprising about the Blueshirts‘ offensive success is that it is not very dependent on the power play, as their 18.37% success rate, good for only 36 extra man goals (led by Brassard’s eight power play tallies), ranks 15th worst in the NHL.

Even with Dan Girardi’s 182 blocks, New York has allowed 2204 shots to reach 32-19-6 Henrik Lundqvist and co., of which they’ve collectively saved 92% for 192 goals against, the 15th most in the league.  Even worse than the power play has been the penalty kill, as the Rangers have neutralized only 76.89% of their infractions to allow 49 power play goals, the third worst rate in the NHL.

Seeing as the Capitals have already clinched both the division and the conference, New York is now focused on securing the second seed in the Metropolitan.  A win tonight would help them do that by extending their lead over third place Pittsburgh to four points, although the Pens will have two games in hand.

The season series between these squads is currently tied at 1-1-0, with the most recent meeting occurring January 11 in the World’s Most Famous Arena, a 2-1 victory for the home Rangers.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s game include Boston‘s Brad Marchand (34 goals [tied for fourth most in the league] and +22 [10th best in the league]) & New York‘s Lundqvist (32 wins [tied for fifth most in the league], four shutouts [tied for sixth most in the league] and .922 save percentage [tied for ninth best in the league]) and Ryan McDonagh (+25 [eighth best in the league]).

Boston has the better offense, power play and penalty kill, so I’m leaning towards the Bruins winning the season series with a road victory tonight.