The New York Rangers face yet another tough matchup on Tuesday Night at 8:00pm Eastern Time against the Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg plays their home games at the MTS Centre, one of the loudest arenas in the NHL. The Rangers for the fourth consecutive game are playing a team more desperate and in need of 2pts then they are. The Rangers have a record of 1-3 in those games with losses to the Kings, Bruins, and Capitals. The Winnipeg Jets currently have 90 points and are 2 points ahead of the LA Kings for the last Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Both teams have 6 games left to be played. The Rangers will be skating into a hostile environment tonight in Winnipeg, in a game that is arguably the biggest for the Winnipeg Jets since they returned to Winnipeg in 2011. Here are three storylines to keep an eye out for tonight.
Bryan Little Returns to the Lineup
Bryan Little, the Winnipeg Jets top center, returns to the lineup tonight from an upper body injury. If anyone wants this Winnipeg team to make the playoffs, and is deserving of a trip to the post season it is Bryan Little. Little entered the NHL as a 19-year-old teenager with the Atlanta Thrashers and even scored in his first game. Little has spent his entire career in the Atlanta Thrashers turned Winnipeg Jets organization, and has really turned into a top-line center in the last two seasons
Little is a skilled center and put up a career-high in points last season with 23 goals, 41 assists, and 64 points while appearing in all 82 games. This season Little has been just as good and has 24 goals, 27 assists, and 51 points in 65 games. Can Little help lead Winnipeg to their first playoff appearance?
Henrik Lundqvist had a tough first game back for the New York Rangers, giving up 4 goals in a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon. It is going to take time for Henrik Lundqvist to return to form and look like the top 5 goalie in the world that he is.
It is going to be interesting to see how Lundqvist responds tonight in another very tough task for a player that has not played much hockey in the past two months. Lundqvist has to show that he is making progress for the Rangers to start him with confidence in a few weeks, as they will begin their quest to return to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Rangers have a tough task tonight in stopping Dustin Byfuglien. Byfuglien, like Bryan Little, recently returned from an upper body injury. He has made an immediate impact in his return to the Winnipeg Jets lineup and scored 3 goals in his first 2 games back. Byfuglien is 6’5, 260lbs, and is one of the Jets best players. This season Byfuglien has 45 points in 67 games while playing mostly defense. There are not many players in the league that are as intimidating of a presence as Dustin Byfuglien. He can skate, hit, and shoot the puck at a very high level. Byfuglien looks determined to lead Winnipeg to the playoffs and he will anchor the Winnipeg defense tonight. Winnipeg plays a heavy, hard-hitting game, and that has been a style that the Rangers have struggled against in recent years.
I am a 2015 graduate of Montclair State University in New Jersey. I have coached ice hockey at the high school level for two seasons here in NJ. I will be covering the Toronto Maple Leafs moving forward for The Hockey Writers.