The New York Rangers are set to face off against the Dallas Stars tonight at 8:00 EST. The Blueshirts are coming off a dominant win over the New Jersey Devils and will look to extend their point streak to twelve games straight.
The Stars will be no easy test for the Rangers. Although the Blueshirts currently sit third overall in the NHL, Dallas is not too far behind them in sixth place. It will be a tough match, but if the Rangers work hard, they could very well pull off another solid victory.
1. The Rangers shut down Dallas’ hot forward
The Rangers possess some of the best offensive firepower in the NHL, but the Stars have the skills to come close to matching them. Dallas center Matt Duchene has been on a tear as of late, as he leads the team in goals, assists, points, and +/- rating over the Stars’ last five games (four goals, five assists, nine points, +6).
With a forward playing as hot as Duchene is, the Rangers’ defense has their work cut out for them. Luckily, with Ryan Lindgren returning from injury, the corps is not as depleted as it was entering the recent bye week. Adam Fox’s presence will still be missed, but there is hope that the Blueshirts can up their defensive game and not only shut down Duchene but the entire Stars team as well.
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2. Finding a way past Oettinger
Jake Oettinger has been phenomenal to start this season for the Stars. The elite goaltender is 8-3-1, has a goals-against average of 2.50, and owns a solid save percentage of .920. Although goaltenders have yet to be confirmed, it will likely be Igor Shesterkin versus Oettinger tonight.
In order to beat the Stars, the Rangers will need to find a way to spark some offense early on. Artemi Panarin is riding a 15-game point streak to start the season, which includes 26 total points. He’s a key factor in producing offense for the Rangers, and he and the rest of the Blueshirts must get the offense going off the bat.
3. The Rangers win a special teams showdown
The Blueshirts currently possess the second-best power play in the NHL with a 33.3% success rate. During a season in which the Blueshirts’ even-strength scoring has continued to struggle, the Rangers have heavily relied on their special teams production to keep them in games. It’s worked well so far, but the Stars may have a perfect counter to this.
While the Rangers’ power play ranks second in the league, the Stars’ penalty kill also ranks second in the NHL. Dallas has been an elite defensive team when down a man, and it’ll prove to be difficult for the Rangers to cash in on their power play chances. This matchup could very well come down to whoever’s special teams outperforms the other.