The Chicago Blackhawks have dropped four of their last five against the New York Rangers, and they haven't won at Madison Square Garden since 2002. TO make matters worse, they're in the midst of a nine-game losing streak, their worst since one in January. The Rangers, meanwhile, have won four straight and look for their fifth five-or-more-game win streak this season when they host the Hawks at 7:00 p.m. EST (MSG).
Prior to this season, the Blackhawks were considered one of the top-tier teams in the Western Conference. They were for a good portion of the season, but in the ultra-competetive West, they've now fallen just two points above the playoff cutoff. Suffice to say, that even in this funk, New York should expect some urgency and desperation from its opponent.
The Hawks boast an abundance of offense, which makes it hard to hone in one one player or one line. Veteran Marian Hossa leads the way with 54 points, while captain Jonathan Toews paces the squad with 27 goals (though he also has 52 points). Four players have 45 or more points. They are fifth in the league in scoring, compared to 10th for the Rangers. The difference, however, lies in their poor defensive play and goaltending, as they also lot in at fourth in the league in giving up the most goals. New York is second best in preventing goals, allowing 1.93 per game.
If the Rangers want to continue to silence the experts who say they need to add Rick Nash to really buoy their scoring, they'll keep doing what they're doing -- and that is getting contributions from the secondary players. Marian Gaborik has 27 goals and 49 points and Ryan Callahan has 23 and 42. Brad Richards has also played better lately, though the play of Artem Anisimov (10, 28) and Brandon Dubinsky, who has three assists in his last two games but one goal in his last 13 games) will really shape how New York fares.