Rangers Look To Dethrone Kings In LA

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The Rangers are right back at it, as they travel to Los Angeles to take on the Kings at the Staples Center tonight. The injury-stricken Rangers weren’t able to hold off a steaming hot Avalanche team, as they fell 3-1 in Colorado. New York has won two of its last three games and is currently in the middle of a four-game West Coast swing. Currently, the Rangers are still in contention for a Wild Card spot with 53 points, which has them tied with Pittsburgh. The Kings are coming off a 2-1 loss to the Ducks and are losers of their last six games. Even so, they still have 53 points and are in the thick of the western conference playoff race.

Key to Victory

WANTED: Spark Plug Needed – In the midst of their recent injury/flu outbreak, the Rangers squad at the moment is thin. Missing are the likes of Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, Michael Grabner, Marc Staal and Kevin Shattenkirk. That is a huge chunk of your roster and some of these players can be considered spark plugs, like Grabner and Kreider. The speed of a Kreider or Grabner alone can make a difference in a close game. This was evident yesterday, as the Rangers seemed to lack that spark that could’ve helped them possibly edge the Avs. Meanwhile, on the other bench, the Avs were able to win with their own spark plug, Nathan MacKinnon. Involved in almost every play and shift he was out there for, he proved to be an influence with his speed and puck skills and it made a difference.

For most of the game, the Rangers seemed a little flat. Although they did show signs of life at times, with the Pavel Buchnevich power play goal and the missed opportunity in front of the net late in the third where Vesey and Holden missed big chances in the crease, the Rangers need to make this a full game thing. In order to defeat tough opponents like the Kings, what the Rangers are currently lacking in depth can be made up for with speed and grit. Guys like Jimmy Vesey, Mats Zuccarello, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich can fill that void, and hopefully, any one of these players or others can provide a spark plug to get the Rangers going tonight against the Kings.

Players To Watch
New York Rangers

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Mika Zibanejad – The Rangers number one center isn’t burning the scoresheet like he was earlier in the season. And even with his two points in his last five games, Zibanejad is a notable presence on the ice between Pavel Buchnevich and Rick Nash; as well as in the faceoff dot, currently sporting a 51.8 FO%. He’s also had previous successes against the Kings, with a goal and multi-point games in three of his last four contests, and has totaled three goals and five assists in eight career games against Los Angeles. Look for him to continue his strong play tonight.

Los Angeles Kings

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Anze Kopitar – The leading scorer for the Kings with 47 points (18G, 29A), Kopitar seems to have helped steer the Kings in the right direction this season. He’s tallied a goal and three assists in his last five games, which includes an assist in each of his last two contests. A fast skater with tremendous hands and incredible vision of the ice, look for Kopitar to try and put his team back in the win column tonight against the Blueshirts.

Puck drops at 10:30!



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