While Anaheim's 7-1 bludgeoning of New Jersey on Monday night surely brought smiles to the faces of New York fans, that same blue-clad bunch probably also as quickly shifted to concern with the trip to Honda Center tonight. The Ducks have earned points in their last ten games inside the friendly confines, best current run of home form in the NHL, and are looking to remain within two points of Division-leading Los Angeles as well as three points clear of third place San Jose. The Rangers took the first meeting this season between the teams 3-2 in overtime in December, and have taken the last three against Anaheim; the last time the Ducks won at Honda Center against the Blue Shirts was the 6-0 home opening rout in 2013.
Ducks: Monday, 3/14 vs New Jersey (W 7-1). "Best And Worst: Ducks vs Devils - Roaring Back"
Rangers: Sunday, 3/13 vs Pittsburgh (L 3-5). "Rangers Drop Second Straight Game In 5-3 Loss To Pittsburgh"
The four-point night chalked up by Jakob Silfverberg was the third time this season a Ducks player has hit that mark (Corey Perry had three goals and an assists against Los Angeles on 2/28, Ryan Getzlaf had five assists against Calgary on 11/15), and the 99th time in franchise history an Anaheim player has hit that mark. The last non-Getzlaf/Perry player to do so was Rickard Rakell, who had two goals and two assists against Winnipeg last season. Silfverberg is the 31st different player to eclipse the four-point mark in a Mighty/Ducks sweater; Teemu Selanne holds the franchise record with 23 four-point-plus games; Terry Yake was the first to hit the plateau with a hat trick and an assist in a win at Madison Square Garden in the inaugural season.
While both Sami Vatanen and Kevin Bieksa missed the win over the Devils on Monday, only Bieksa took part in this morning's skate. The Ducks released word from head coach Bruce Boudreau earlier that both will not dress for tonight's game as well. Per Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register, Nate Thompson also did not take part in the morning skate, while Brandon Pirri could be in line to make his Ducks debut, taking rushes with Getzlaf and David Perron on the top line. The injury status update likely means Shawn Horcoff remains in the fourth line center role, where he had an assist on Nick Ritchie's first NHL goal on Monday.
While still three points clear of the Penguins for the final Metropolitan Division playoff spot, you can already sense the puckering in Manhattan and all around Rangerstown as New York has been up-and-down through the month of March. The Blue Shirts are 2-3-1 this month, after closing February with wins in five of their final six games. Blue Shirt Banter has a good outline of some of the personnel choice issues the team has been struggling with, namely the usage of Tanner Glass when available, as well as the (still head-scratching) limiting of Keith Yandle on the power play.
Rick Nash is back in the lineup for the Rangers after missing 20 games with a bone bruise, and is expected to link back up with usual running mates Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard. Zuccarello and Brassard and one and two on the team in scoring, as before the injury Nash had put up 12 goals and 21 assists in 47 games. New York has given up 3.67 goals per game over this month-opening stretch, 40.1% higher than their season average, and with Antti Raanta expected to start tonight (though he's won four of his last five) could provide Anaheim the opportunity to pounce after a strong showing on Monday. Another potential area for the Ducks to exploit is the New York penalty kill, which at 77.2% overall is 27th in the league, and is the NHL's worst road penalty kill at 72.5% though they've taken the seventh fewest infractions on the road.
Two hours before face off we'll have the game thread up, featuring the full Stat Pack, likely with expected lines, and of course your Numbers For Nerds.