NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Thursday, February 27th
(All times Eastern)
Chicago Blackhawks (35-11-14) at New York Rangers (32-24-3), 7 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - Henrik Lundqvist anchored Team Sweden to a silver medal
at the Sochi Olympics, but the New York Rangers aren't ready to throw their
star goaltender back into the fire when they emerge from the break to host the
Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
Lundqvist went 5-1 with a 1.50 goals against average at the Olympic tournament
in Sochi, getting his only loss in the gold medal game against Canada. Rangers
head coach Alain Vigneault said he'll give his No. 1 netminder extra rest by
starting backup Cam Talbot on Thursday, pushing Lundqvist's post-Olympics
debut to Saturday when New York visits the Philadelphia Flyers.
"We talked yesterday. He felt good," Vigneault said Thursday of Lundqvist. "I
just thought, considering what he'd been through, to give him an extra day."
Another Rangers' Olympian, forward Mats Zuccarello, will not be available for
at least the next three weeks after suffering a broken hand while representing
Norway at the Sochi Games. Zuccarello is leading the Rangers this season with
43 points on 15 goals and 28 assists.
Rick Nash, who won gold with Canada in Sochi, is among the Rangers who will
have to pick up the offensive slack without Zuccarello in the lineup. Although
Nash is leading New York with 18 goals this season, he failed to register a
point in the team's final five games before the Olympics and he had just one
assist in six outings for Team Canada.
The Rangers enter Thursday with 67 points and are holding onto the second of
the Metropolitan Division's three automatic bids to the postseason. New York
is one point ahead of Philadelphia for second place in the division.
The Blueshirts were hot before the break, winning five of six prior to the
league's hiatus. New York also is 1-0 against the defending Stanley Cup
champion Blackhawks this season, posting a 3-2 regulation decision in the
Windy City on Jan. 8. The Rangers have claimed five of the past eight meetings
in this series.
Chicago posted a 3-1-1 mark in the games leading into the break and the club
is tied with St. Louis for first place in the Central Division.
The Blackhawks are wrapping a seven-game road trip tonight and are 3-1-2 so
far on the swing. The club's next game is Saturday's outdoor battle versus the
Pittsburgh Penguins at Soldier Field, home of the NFL's Chicago Bears.
02/27 10:43:25 ET