New York Rangers: 19-19-2, 40 pts (4th in Metro) at Florida Panthers: 15-20-5, 35 pts (7th in Atlantic)
The Florida Panthers will ring in the new year tonight when they take on the New York Rangers at BB&T Center. Puck drop is set for 5 p.m. ET.
The Panthers will attempt to put an exclamation point on an excellent month of December with a win tonight over New York. The Panthers have compiled a December record of 8-5-0 worth 16 points in the standings; a huge improvement over October and November where they only managed 8 and 11 points respectively.
The Panthers will be looking to get their first win over the Rangers tonight in what will be the final matchup between these two teams. Florida has dropped the previous two against the Rangers falling 4-3 on November 10, and 5-2 on November 27. The Rangers, despite a tough start to the season, find themselves only two points behind Philadelphia for the third playoff spot in the weak Metropolitan Division.
The Rangers will come into South Florida on a bit of a streak having won thee of their last four games including a 4-3 win in Tampa Bay on Sunday, a game in which they tallied three power play goals. Containing the Rangers power play will a tough task for the Panthers 30th ranked penalty kill. New York has scored with the man-advantage in five of their last six games and for the season their power play ranks 8th in the NHL scoring at a 20.7% clip.
New York is led by top scorers Mats Zuccarello (9-19-28) and Brad Richards (9-18-27) as well as 22-year-old rookie Chris Kreider who is tied for second in scoring amongst NHL rookies with 22 points (10-12-22). The Rangers will get a boost on the defensive end as Marc Staal will be making his return to the lineup tonight after missing the previous ten games with a concussion.
The Florida Panthers are coming off a 4-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night. The win was keyed in part by Aleksander Barkov and Sean Bergenheim who both tallied goals in the win to stretch their respective scoring streaks to three games. On the other end of things, Jonathan Huberdeau was held off the scoresheet for the 5th straight game. His currant goalless streak has now stretched to eight games.
After the Rangers, the Panthers will have three days off before they close out their home stand on Saturday against the Nashville Predators. Share your thoughts about tonight’s game in the comments section below and follow The Rat Trick on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest.