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Holy Christ, am I scared for this game.

Clearly, Henke feels the same way I do about this game.

Clearly, Henke feels the same way I do about this game.

Yes, the Rangers have won the last two games on their California road trip, and yes, one of them was in regulation(holy crap!).  But neither win was particularly spectacular, neither win really gives me any confidence that tonight is going to be anything less than horrible.

In case you live under a rock, the San Jose Sharks have been kicking ass and not bothering to take names all over the league for basically the entire season.  They’re first in the league, first in the Western Conference, and boast a record of 25-4-3.  That’s right, three months into the season, and they’ve lost only 7 times.

The Rangers, on the other hand, barely just squeaked out a win against the Los Angeles freakin’ Kings.  Yes, the Rangers are second in the Eastern Conference, but that’s mostly due to a strong early start, and being several games ahead of everyone else.  They haven’t been able to sustain much momentum, and it’s starting to show.

There are two ways this game can go down:  either the Sharks are tired from traveling to Colombus, then to Detroit, then back to San Jose, and are feeling beaten down and dejected from losing their last two, including a blowout 6-0 loss to Detroit.  If this is the case, hopefully the Rangers and capitalize on their misery and come away with 2 more points.  The other way this can go is that the Sharks are comin’ back mad and looking to make a statement and spank someone on home ice to get their confidence back, in which case the Rangers are goin’ down in flames.  Something tells me the second scenario is much more likely.

My guess is that the Rangers lines will be similar, if not the same as the last two games.

What’s for sure is that Lundqvist will be in goal for the Rangers, and probably Evgeni Nabakov will be in goal for San Jose.  Also for sure: I will be drinking heavily during this game.

 

Numbers breakdown:

Sharks record: 25-4-3   –   7-1-2 in their last 10

Rangers record: 22-11-2   –   6-4-0 in their last 10

Average goals scored in a game:

Sharks: 3.44

Rangers: 2.46

Average goals allowed in a game:

Sharks: 2.44

Rangers: 2.57

Power Play

Sharks: 21.9%

Rangers: 14.9%

Penalty Kill:

Sharks: 85.8%

Rangers: 90.4%

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As I mentioned in my very first post, I hate the New Jersey Devils.  And I hate Martin Brodeur.  Now, don’t start thinking that I’m dancing with joy that he’s hurt – I’m not.  One of the first rules of fandom is Thou Shalt Not Gloat for Karma Beist a Bitch.  So I wish him a speedy recovery, and that’s that.

Ok, that being said – we play the Swamp Rats tonight at 7.  The game can be seen locally on MSG 2, and I, being the oh-so-lucky lady that I am, will be watching on the Center Ice package.  So that means that all of y’all get to suffer with me and watch the crappy Devils feed. Whee!

So far this season, the Rangers are 11-5-2, and the Devils are 7-5-2.  We’ve played 18 games whereas they’ve played 14.  But, the Rangers have lost 2 of their last 3, and Devils have only won 1 game since Fatass McGhee has been stuck at home watching highlight reels of himself and crying into a pillow.

Rangers Devils HockeySince the Rangers are going up against a backup goalie who rarely sees action, the logical thing to assume is that they will make him look superhuman.  Tonight won’t be easy, and the trick is going to be for the Rangers not to go into it thinking that it’s going to be easy to walk away with 2 points tonight.  I think they can do it, so here’s hoping I’m right.  One thing that the Rangers really need to count on, as they do every night, is that Henke is going to keep playing the way he has so far this season.  And against the Devils, he never disappoints.

Speaking of Rangers/Devils goaltending – here’s a fun snippet from Sam Weinman, Rangers beat writer and journalistic love of my life:

Kevin Weekes is taking full credit for carrying the Rangers to the playoffs. OK, not really, but here’s how he summarized his career in New York:

“You know what? I’m past that now,” he said. “When I was there we made the playoffs both years and that was a great experience just that in itself.”

Yes, it was all thanks to Weekes that the Rangers made the playoffs the first two years out of the lockout.  That rookie foreigner who took his job can’t stop a beach ball.  And they totally didn’t get swept in the last playoff series Weekes actually played in.  Not at all.

LET’S GO RANGERS!!

UPDATE: According to Sam Weinman, Scott Gomez’s leg is more than just a little bothersome pain – he will not play tonight against the Devils, and is now listed as Day-to-Day.  Crap on a cracker.

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The Rangers faceoff agaisnt the Islanders for the first time this season.  Rick “body of glass” DiPietro will be riding pine with some sort of injury (chronic sucking) while backup Joey MacDonald gets a go at it.

I’m pretty sure the last time MacDonald was in goal against the Rangers, he was a Bruin and he gave up 4 goals on 11 shots (including Ryan Callahan’s 1st and 2nd career goals) after coming in for Timmy Thomas 5:07 into the second period.  He was so bad that the Bruins put Thomas back in net to start the third.  The final was 7-0.

Here are the highlights:

I remember this because I was at this game and it was on St. Patrick’s Day 2007.  I was pretty buzzed and at one point shouted, “Hey Thomas, you’re the reason I’m pro-choice!”  And yes, I got many laughs.

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OK they lost.  It was bound to happen eventually.  Let’s just move on and see if they can rebound from such a terrible outing.

There are a few roster changes to note:

  • Stephen Valiquette will get the start tonight to give Henrik Lundqvist a break for tomorrow’s game in Detroit.
  • Lauri Korpikoski will be scratched with an arm or shoulder injury.
  • Nigel Dawes and Dan Fritsche will most likely be the wingers on the third line centered by Ryan Callahan.
    • This would be Ryan’s first game as a Center for the Rangers.
  • Patrick Rissmiller and Petr Prucha are the healthy scratches.

There will be no changes made to line of Naslund-Gomez-Drury.  I think Renney is going to give them 1 or 2 more games before he breaks them up.

Look for fatigue to start playing a bigger role in games.  This is the Rangers’ 5th game in 8 nights and is their 7th game of the season.  The Maple Leafs are only playing their 4th game of the season and 3rd game in the same 8 days.  Their last game was on Monday night against the St. Louis Blues.  They lost 5-4 in the skills competition.

Ryan Hollweg will not play tonight as he is serving his second suspension this season.

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Aside from trading R.J. Umberger to Columbus and Sami Kapanen retiring, not very much went on with the Flyers this offseason.  Yes, last season they shot from the league basement to the Conference Finals, but they still got thrashed by our back-up goalie whenever we played them.   Stevie V posted a 3-0-1 record against them, including 2 shutouts and earned himself the nickname ‘Flyer Killer’.  And, since the team hasn’t changed much, hopefully this trend will continue.  By all accounts, Renney has already decided to start the Big Valvosky tonight against Skating Orange Turds Broadstreet Bullies.

 

Last Rangers game:

a 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in which the newly dubbed ‘Playstation Line’ kicked some ass, totaling 3 goals and 4 assists for 7 points.  Sweet tits, man.  Lundqvist made 30 saves on 32 shots, and puck control was beastly the majority of the night.  Me likey.

Eric EDIT!

Found this over at meltyourfaceoff.net.  It has to do with Sarah Palin dropping the puck at the game tonight in Philly. It’s hilarious.

More to come later including pictures from last night’s game.

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I guess you could call this a Season Preview but we’ll just call it the Game Preview. Also, today is my birthday!

Back on October 5, 2005, the New York Rangers played a game for the first time in over a year. The NHL was finally back after a lock-out that led to the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season.

It had been 8 years since the Rangers had last made the playoffs–when they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 1997 Eastern Conference Finals–and the idea that the Rangers were going to end the drought was ludicrous. That year, almost every “expert” had picked the Rangers to finish 30th in the NHL.

Honestly, did you have much faith in that team? Look at the lineup they sported for the 2005-2006 season opener against the Flyers:

Rucinsky-Nylander-Jagr
Straka-Ruccin-Hossa
Moore-Betts-Ward
Hollweg-Lundmark-Ortmeyer

Rozsival-Malik
Poti-Strudwick
Tyutin-Kasparaitis

Weekes
Lundqvist

Admit it. You looked at that team and thought, “We’re screwed!” But Slats was keeping his word; the Rangers were rebuilding. We couldn’t expect greatness in the first year. Honestly, I would have been content no matter what happened that season. But what happened that year stunned everybody.

The Rangers sat in first place in the Atlantic Division until the very last day of the season when they were passed by both the Devils and the Flyers. More importantly, for the first time since 1997, the Rangers had made the playoffs and Jaromir Jagr broke the Rangers single season records for both goals (54) and points (123).

Now fast forward to this season. The Rangers come into the game with a 2-0-0 record with two wins over the Tampa Bay Lightning last weekend in Prague.

Here is the line up that the Rangers sported for the first two games of the season:

Naslund-Gomez-Drury
Dawes-Dubinsky-Zherdev
Prucha-Korpikoski-Callahan
Voros-Betts-Orr

Rozsival-Redden
Girardi-Kalinin
Staal-Mara

Lundqvist
Valiquette

Only two, yes two, players from the 2005 opening night roster are still on the team. Only one of them actually played in that game! Petr Prucha was called up from Hartford soon after the start of the season and stayed up for most of it. But still that is only 3 players that remain from the October 5, 2005 to October 4, 2008. Speaking of Petr Prucha, of all the players currently on the roster, he has the most games played and most goals scored as a Ranger.

Looking ahead to this season, the Rangers are a younger, faster, more offensive minded team that can still shut things down when needed. The problem is that almost every offseason move the Rangers made is counting on the player playing better because of a change in scenery. So far, Naslund and Redden have scored goals. Zherdev has shown how wonderfully he can control the puck but has not finished. He does have the potential to set up many goals for Brandon Dubinsky. I really hope Zherdev doesn’t end up like Matt Cullen did with the Rangers.

There were some questions heading into this season about Dubinsky. Would he have the dreaded sophomore slump? Would he be able to produce without Jagr on his wing? We’re only 2 games into the season, but Dubinsky doesn’t look like he’s going to hit the proverbial wall any time soon. He was arguably the best player on the Rangers throughout the Preseason and has skated very well with new linemate Nikolai Zherdev.

Some other young players that must prove themselves are Nigel Dawes, Ryan Callahan, and believe it or not, Petr Prucha. Dawes and Callahan will most likely thrive in a faster and more offensive minded environment. As will Prucha who is scratched for tonights game. But Tom Renney has to give Prucha more ice time. At least some more time on the Power Play.

As for any predictions, I think the Rangers will fight for control of the Atlantic with the Penguins for the majority of the Season. They will probably end up finishing in second place in the division which is good enough for 4th or 5th in the Eastern Conference.

Tonight, the Rangers will hold their true home opener against the Chicago Blackhawks. This team made a big splash in the free agency market by signing Brian Campbell to an 8 year contract for about $56.8 million. They also improved in goal with the addition of Cristobal Huet. This team is young and looking to prove themselves. They were very close to making the playoffs last season and you can be sure that New Captain Jonathan Toews and Sophomore Patrick Kane will skate circles around our defense at least once.

Hopefully the Rangers can find their scoring and break out against Huet who they have been fairly good against in recent memory.

I will be at the game and I might snap some pictures. I’ll post them later tonight if I can along with the recap.

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As if coming back from 0-3 in the series wasn’t going to be hard enough, the Rangers are going to have to do with it without Sean Avery (lacerated spleen), Blair Betts (broken bone in face), and without a 100% Chris Drury (torso injury). Drury is probable but after watching him skate at half speed and not taking any faceoffs in the 3rd period of game 3, I have to think he’s playing hurt.

So, where does that leave the Rangers? Well, the situation is not very good. Betts and Drury are the team’s top penalty killers, and the Penguins power play was destroying the Rangers despite Betts and Drury’s best efforts. I would be surprised to see Drury on the penalty kill even if he does play tonight. Now, without their services, it will be up to Scott Gomez, Ryan Callahan, and possibly Brandon Dubinsky to really step up their penalty killing.

Who is going to fill the empty spots in the lineup? Hartford call-up Lauri Korpikoski is going to play center for the 4th line but it’s not clear who will play wing and it’s also not clear who will play on the 2nd line in place of Sean Avery. It will be some combination of Prucha, Orr, and Hollweg. Korpikoski, the 19th overall pick in the 2004 draft, will be making his NHL debut tonight. Hopefully he can make the most of his 2-3 shifts per period. I think Prucha makes the most sense to fill in on the 2nd line. On Defense, Jason Strudwick will play along side Paul Mara in place of Christian Backman.

At the risk of stating the obvious, the situation does not look very good. But, there is still some hope. The Rangers have lost 3 in a row, but the Pens haven’t exactly dominated the Rangers in this series. The Rangers let a 3-goal lead slip through their fingers in game 1, and in game 3 the Rangers dominated the flow of the game but couldn’t capitalize on scoring chances as effectively as the Penguins.

It’s possible, right?

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