Florida Panthers (21-16-10) at New York Rangers (28-15-4)
|Date & Time||Monday February 2, 2015, 7:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: New York Rangers -200 / Florida Panthers +180 --- Over/Under: 5
|TV Channel||Stream NHL games all season on ESPN+ for only $4.99 a month. Sign up now!|
The New York Rangers return to the ice on Monday night looking to make it back-to-back wins after their victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night. It wasn’t the greatest game for a Rangers club that has struggled offensively of late, but midway through the game they found their way with some new line combinations. Head coach Alain Vigneault was tired of watching his anemic offense and after changing things up he finally saw some results. New York held a 2-0 lead after one period of play with Rick Nash scoring his 29th of the season on a wrist shot that should have been stopped by Cam Ward and then a short handed goal by Dominic Moore. Despite the two goal lead the Rangers were being outplayed and after Carolina cut the deficit in half early in the second the Rangers started to turn it on. Chris Kreider finally cashed in with his 11th goal of the season in the third and Dan Boyle added his fifth just 21 seconds later as New York went on to the 4-1 win. Things haven’t come easy for the Rangers since the All-Star break but Saturday night’s perseverance was nice to see. New York has been a very good offensive club for most of the season but a lot of that offense comes off the rush and it appears teams are trying to keep things simple and force the Rangers to dump the puck in and cycle. That isn’t the Rangers strength but it’s something they’re going to need to get better at if they’re going to make a lengthy run in the playoffs this season.
Things are starting to slowly slip away for the Florida Panthers who are desperately trying to stay in the playoff race. Florida enters Monday night’s game at Madison Square Garden losers of six of their last seven games and coming off a 3-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. The Panthers managed just five total shots in the first period and fell behind 2-0. Despite a valiant effort in the second period where they out shot New Jersey 12-1, the Panthers were still unable to score. It wasn’t until the final minutes when Brandon Pirri chipped in his 6th goal of the season to break up the shut out. This is a very young hockey club with a lot of talent that is still learning what it takes to be successful in this league. When you look at the players they’re bringing through the system it’s easy to get excited about this hockey club moving forward, but it still might be a little too much for this club this season. Roberto Luongo has given this club a veteran presence in goal and he’ll keep them in a lot of games down the stretch, but if the Panthers don’t start stringing together some wins quickly they’re going to be out of the race sooner rather than later.
The Rangers are heavy favorites in this one but the way they’ve played recently doesn’t really warrant that. Florida has been even worse so it’s hard to like either club in this one. Look for there to be at least a couple of goals scored in this one.