UPDATE: Paul Mara and Colton Orr were both injured in last night’s game against the Sabres and will not play tonight. They have been replaced by Jason Strudwick and Marcel Hossa. Hossa will play on the 4th line with Betts and Hollweg. Strudwick will most likely skate with Marc Staal.
The surging Rangers look to keep their 6-game unbeaten-in-regulation streak alive tonight against the Panthers. (As an aside, the Rangers are 4-0-2 in their last 6, but I’m not really sure what to call the streak. I can’t say just “unbeaten” because they’ve lost twice. “Points” streak just sounds weird to me. So I’m going with unbeaten-in-regulation until someone gives me a better idea. Does anyone out there have an idea? Leave it in the comments.)
It was just a few weeks ago when the Rangers were sitting in the cellar of the Atlantic division. The race was so tight, however, that after rattling off a few wins, the Rangers are back within range. We will have a better idea of their position after tonight. The Devils and Penguins are both in action this afternoon. (As I write this, the Devils and Capitals are tied 1-1 early in the 3rd period, while the Penguins and Sharks are tied 0-0 in the 2nd intermission).
The Panthers did their part for the Rangers cause yesterday in Philadelphia, scoring with 4 seconds left in the 3rd period to force OT, then winning the game in the extra frame to prevent the Flyers from gaining the precious 2 points. The Panthers are a talented team and should not be taken lightly. Their Defense, while ranked among the worst in the NHL, is bolstered by the talented Jay Bouwmeester, who leads the NHL in ice time (more than 27 mins/game). Olli Jokinen, a.k.a. the guy who sliced Zednik’s neck open, leads the Panthers in scoring. If the Rangers can contain Jokinen’s line, which includes shifty youngster Nathan Horton, (and that’s a big IF), I expect the Rangers to win.