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NHL: Dallas Stars @ New York Rangers preview

Two opposite conference teams with Stanley Cup aspirations meet on Thursday as the Dallas Stars visit the famous Madison Square Garden to face-off against the New York Rangers. 

New York (23-12-7) currently hold third place in the Eastern Conference's Metropolitan Division while the Dallas Stars (25-11-6) lead the Western Conference's Central Division.

The Rangers made the Eastern Conference Final last season which gave them optimism that their long wait for a fifth Stanley Cup may be coming to an end and they are +1800 to be crowned champions for the first time since 1994. 

The Stars went on a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2020, and under new coach Peter DeBoer have re-discovered a lot of that form this season and are +1100 to go a step further and lift the trophy for a second time in franchise history. 

New York are 10-7-4 at home this season and Dallas 13-7-3 on the road. 

WhatDallas Stars @ New York Rangers Preview 
WhereMadison Square Garden, New York 
When19:00, Thursday 12th January
How to MSG, BSSW
OddsDallas Stars +105, New York Rangers -125

Rangers one up

The teams have met once previously this season at Dallas' American Airlines Centre in late October where the Rangers were victorious by a score of 6-3. 

Stars goalie Oettinger was injured in the second period and that helped the Rangers score three goals in the space of 2.07 in the third to break a 3-3 tie and win. 

The Rangers were clinical on the powerplay that night, scoring twice on five opportunities with Dallas failing to convert on any of their four chances. 

That hasn't been the story of the overall season though with Dallas' 27.3% (fifth in the NHL) success rate on their powerplay bettering New York's 23.1% (15th). The Stars have also been stronger on the penalty kill at 82.9% (fourth) compared to the Rangers' 81.0% (11th).

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Goalie battle

24-year-old Oettinger missed four games following the injury sustained against the Rangers but that hasn't stopped him clocking up 31 starts (19-6-3), the joint third most in the league with a .923 save percentage and 2.29 goals against average (GAA) which both rank in the top five among goalies to have played more than 20 games.

Oettingher is +1200 to win the Vezina Trophy as goalie of the year which is currently held by his likely opposite number in New York, the 27-year-old Igor Shesterkin.

Shesterkin is +800 to retain the Vezina Trophy, and has one more start than Oettinger this season (31), going 19-6-6 with a .916 save percentage and 2.49 GAA. 

The pair have helped their respective team register excellent an excellent defensive record with the Stars sitting third in the NHL allowing an average of 2.60 goals per game and the Rangers seventh giving up a slightly higher 2.71 goals per game. 

If both play to their usual world class best, goals could prove hard to come by but there will be plenty of strong offensive talent on show who have the talent to beat them. 

Offensive threats

Jason Robertson, 23, of the Dallas Stars is the biggest threat to Shesterkin with the winger sitting fourth in the NHL for goals with 29 and points which total 58.

The high-scoring winger is +1800 to be voted the Hart Memorial Trophy winner as the NHL's most valuable player. 

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid currently leads the race for the Rocket Richard with 35 goals and he is -225 to be named the Hart Memorial Trophy winner which he has already won twice. 

Roope Hintz (19 goals, 25 assists), Joe Pavelski (19 goals, 28 assists), Jamie Benn (15 goals, 22 assists) and offensive defenceman Miro Heiskanen (seven goals, 24 assists) have also played a large part in Dallas scoring the sixth highest amount of goals in the league, averaging 3.45 per game. 

Oettinger's main concern will be the dynamic duo of Artemi Panarin who leads the Rangers for points with 45 (11 goals, 34 assists) and Mika Zibanejad who is just one point behind with 44 (19 goals, 25 assists). 

Chris Kreider (19 goals, 11 assists) and dynamic blue-liner Adam Fox (eight goals, 33 assists) are also difference makers for New York who have averaged 3.24 goals per game which is 16th in the league. 

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