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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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This is an obvious statement, but the Rangers have to win this game tonight. If they get the series back to 2-1, they are still alive. 3-0 is a different story.

You won’t see me quote a basketball coach too often in a hockey blog, but Doc Rivers had a great quote last night after the Celtics lost game 4. He said, “I could hear them in the locker room, saying ‘hey, guys we’re going back home, it’s going to be okay.’ I told them, ‘You have to go make it okay.’ We have to go make it okay.”

Since falling into the 0-2 hole, the Rangers have all been saying that they were still in this series because they were heading home to MSG. I just hope they remember that nothing magical happens when you take your home ice that suddenly makes you play better. The team is going to have to earn these wins. Playing at MSG with 18,000 fans at your back is going to help, but nothing is automatic.

A few game notes:

Remember that lineup shuffle from yesterday? Scratch that. Petr Prucha will be scratched in favor of Ryan Hollweg, which presumably means that Shanahan will skate in his usual spot with Gomez and Avery. Strudwick will also be scratched, which means the fans at MSG will see plenty of Christian Backman tonight. Renney said that Paul Mara will probably see some time on the power play unit, so we got that right.

Despite Therrien’s comments yesterday that suggest otherwise, the Rangers feel they have done very little this series to make it hard for Marc-Andre Fleury to see the puck. Renney’s reaction to hearing Therrien’s comments: “Really?” The Rangers beat up on Martin Brodeur in round 1 by putting bodies in front for screens and deflections. Look for a return to that form tonight at MSG.

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Here once again is the definitive series preview, brought to you by a joint effort of the creators of this blog. The Rangers posted a 5-3 record against the Penguins this season. Can Henrik Lundqvist keep Sid the Kid and his cronies from punching the Rangers out of the playoffs? The only way to find out is to keep reading.

It’s on the long side, so click the “more” link below to continue reading.

(more…)

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Going into game 4 of the series the visiting team has won each game. In fact, visiting teams are 13-14 so far in the playoffs. Jaromir Jagr, while laughing, had this to say.

It’s been huge so far. I knew it was going to be like that. That’s why we lost the last game (of the season). Everybody thought we lost but it was pretty smart. Sometimes when you lose, you actually win.

Hopefully the Rangers can break the streak in their series tonight when they play Game 4 against the Devils at Madison Square Garden.

Tom Renney is gonna be going with the same lineup as Game 3. That means that Petr Prucha (poor Petr 😦 ), Jason Strudwick, Marek Malik and Colton Orr will be the scratches. I guess it makes sense to keep Petr out of the lineup since the series has been very rough and he’s a pretty small guy. I have a feeling that Orr might take Hollweg’s place once he’s skated some more.

Something to look for in tonight’s game:

  • Does Sean Avery set up shop in front of Martin Brodeur?
    • Which way is he facing?
  • Does he continue his goal streak?
    • Sean Avery has scored a goal in all 3 games so far.
  • Will anyone drop the gloves?
    • There’s been so much tension between the two teams yet there hasn’t been a fight yet.
  • Will VS be blacked out again in the Philadelphia area?
    • They showed PBR (bull riding) here at Drexel (which is in Philadelphia) on Sunday Night
    • Oh yeah, the Game is on VS. Kill me now!

Note: in the NY area, the game is on MSG. -Marc

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Nothing really to say about this game that you don’t already know.

The Rangers lineup will be the same. I would have liked to see Petr Prucha instead of Ryan Hollweg, but I guess you can’t argue with 2 straight wins. The only change for the Devils is that they plan to dress Valeri Vishnevsky on defense.

The series started to get a little heated in Game 2, but still just pushing and shoving and no real fisticuffs. I think the Devils are going to come out and try to send the Rangers a physical message that this series is not over. The Garden will be rocking tonight.

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It’s hard to argue with the results. Their 4-1 victory in Game 1 on the road was definitely just what the Rangers wanted. The problem is with the methods.

After a game filled with several lucky breaks and some really dangerous neutral zone and defensive zone giveaways, Jaromir Jagr called the 4-1 outcome “unfair” to the Devils. According to Josh Thomson over at Rangers Report, most of the Rangers felt they were outplayed by the Devils in all aspects of the game except goaltending. I would add that the Rangers were stellar on the penalty kill.  The PP goal allowed can be excused because Straka broke his stick on the play and it turned into a 5-on-3.

At any rate, the prevailing thought is that Game 1 was something of an aberration. Nobody expects Brodeur to have another soft game, and everybody feels fortunate that the Devils couldn’t capitalize on any of the odd-man rushes they were able to generate off turnovers. The Rangers have a chance to take control of this series with a win tonight

Rangers keys to the game:

  • Better puck control on the breakout and through the neutral zone
  • Another solid game from Henrik Lundqvist
  • Continuing the effective Penalty Killing

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A Rangers win tonight guarantees finishing either 4th or 5th in the Conference.

Brendan Shanahan will be playing tonight, Blair Betts will not. He will most likely play Sunday against the Devils.

Petr Prucha rejoins Ryan Hollweg and Fredrik Sjostrom on the 4th line.

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