Rangers Report 1/30

The first half of the season has come and gone for the New York Rangers just as it has all around the National Hockey League.

Following a 2-0 home loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night, the Rangers enjoyed a stretch of off days courtesy of Sunday’s NHL All-Star Game in Los Angeles. Captain Ryan McDonagh was the lone All-Star representative for the Blueshirts, who entered the break with a 31-17-1 record. That mark places the Rangers fourth in the Metropolitan Division and first in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race.

New York posted an even 5-5 record in the final ten games of the 2016-17 first half. Prior to Wednesday’s loss, the Rangers played back-to-back games last Sunday and Monday.

A 1-0 overtime win in Detroit on January 22 gave the team a boost heading into a home matchup the following night against the Los Angeles Kings. Despite being outshot 38-17 by the Kings, the Rangers used a strong effort from goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to earn their second victory in as many days, and their third in a row overall.

But on Wednesday, Flyers goalie Steve Mason became just the second netminder this season to post a shutout against the Rangers, joining Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators. Despite those two particular goal-less performances, the Rangers scored the second-most goals as a team in the first half of the season.

Their 165 goals put them just five goals shy of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the top spot. Getting shut out on home ice was certainly not an ideal way to wrap up the pre-All Star Game slate, but the team knows where improvement is needed in the second half.

“I thought we played a pretty good game. We just didn’t get it done on special teams,” said Lundqvist after the loss to the Flyers.

New York was 0-for-3 on the power play and finished 0-for-14 in the last four game prior to the All-Star Game. For the season, the Rangers are tied for 12th in power play percentage (20.7 percent).

Individually, Mats Zuccarello leads the team with 38 points (nine goals, 29 assists). Michael Grabner, who was acquired in the offseason, is currently the NHL leader in even strength goals with 20. McDonagh, who didn’t record a point in Sunday’s Metropolitan Division victory in the All-Star Game, posted 28 first half points (two goals, 26 assists) to lead all defenseman on Broadway.

“You know we’ve gone cold here the last stretch of games and this break will be good. We’ll get to look at some things [and] come back refreshed, recharged,and ready to go,” McDonagh said Wednesday.

With the Metropolitan Division playing such a high level of hockey this season, the Rangers will look for an important two points to kick off the second half of the schedule when the Columbus Blue Jackets (32-12-4) visit The Garden on Tuesday night.

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