New York Rangers vs. St. Louis Blues - 1/23/14
St. Louis Blues (33-11-5) at New York Rangers (27-22-3)
NHL Hockey: Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 7:00 pm (Madison Square Garden)
The Line: New York Rangers +110 / St. Louis Blues -121 --- Over/Under: 5 See the Latest Odds
TV: FS-MW, MSG
The St. Louis Blues are having a fantastic season, the club ranks in the near the top of the league in every major statistical category. However, St. Louis has dropped three of the last four games and four of six overall. The Blues will look to get back on track while on this metropolitan road trip as they face the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
In its most recent four losses, St. Louis is scoring just 1.2 goals per game, which is more than two goals below the team’s season average. Against the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday the Blues tallied just a single goal, but gave up a season high seven goals. Yes, seven. The Blues used both goaltenders against Jersey after the game’s starter, Brian Elliot, gave up three goals in the first period. Alexander Steen, who missed 11 games earlier this season, scored the only Blues’ goal and is now tied for the team lead in points with 41.
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The New York Rangers welcome the Blues after a loss to the cross-town rival New York Islanders. The Rangers managed to build a two goal lead twice in the game, but the Islanders closed the game out with four unanswered goals to walk out of MSG with a 5-3 victory. One bright spot in the game for the Rangers was Rick Nash, who scored his 15th and 16th goals of the season. Nash now has consecutive two-goal games and nine goals in his last nine contests. Cam Talbot started against the Isles while Henrik Lundqvist sat due to an illness. Lundqvist is questionable for Thursday’s game, but he skated on Wednesday, so I expect him to start against the Blues.
The Rangers are just 1-6 in the last seven meetings against the Blues and just 1-5 in the last six meetings in New York. The Blues won the first game this season against the Rangers by a score of 5-3 in St. Louis. However, the Rangers have played well against the West, going 4-0 in the last four contests versus a Western Conference opponent. Similarly, the Blues have been strong against the East, going 44-15 in the last 59 games against the Eastern Conference.
I expect this game to be tight with both teams looking to keep the score low after allowing 5 and 7 a side in their last games. There is the possibility that the Rangers could be looking ahead somewhat to the next two games, which come against Divisional opponents and will be played at Yankee Stadium for the NHL Stadium Series. The Blues do not strike me as a team that handles embarrassment well, so I look for them to bounce back against the Rangers.