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Posts Tagged ‘Panthers’

I'm converting.

I'm converting.

In this edition of 5-hole.com Pick ’em, we feature our first ever dueling gimmies.  That’s right… I picked the Devils and made them my gimmie, while Eric picked the Blue Jackets as his gimmie.  (Note to MSG Plus: we expect a commission for bumping up the ratings for tonight’s game).

In other news, this woman decided to emulate Chris Simon (or would it be Marty McSorley?)  Either way, not the best role model.  Maybe she was outraged at the lovely C-cups on the Virgin Mary.  (Ed note: niiice. I like.)

On to the picks…

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Starting next season, the NHL will revert back to the system used before the lockout.  Each team will play the other four teams in their division six times (3 home games and 3 road games) and play the other 10 teams in their conference four times (2 home games and 2 road games).  The remaining 18 games will be played against the teams in the other conference.  That ensures that each team will play every other team in the league at least one time during the regular season.

Beginning with the 2005-2006 season, the NHL started using a new schedule structure.  The new system had each team play 2 additional games against the other four teams in their division (four home games, four road games).  They still played four games against the ten teams in the other two divisions in their conference (2 home games and 2 road games).  The remaining 10 games were played against ten teams from the other conference (5 at home against one division, 5 on the road against another division).  Teams did not play the 5 teams in the third division of the other conference.  The interconference matchups rotated every season and after 3 seasons, every team had played every team in the other conference both at home and on the road once.

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After a 13-game streak of aggressive, hard-nosed, and winning hockey, the Rangers returned to their pre-All-Star-break ineptitude in this weekend’s losses to the Panthers and Lightning — two teams outside of the playoff picture.

The Rangers showed no energy whatsoever in the two games.  The Eastern Conference is so tight that going into the weekend, it looked as if 1st place might have been within reach.  Now, the Rangers might struggle to hold on to their playoff spot.

It is frustrating to watch a hockey game where the players refuse to forecheck,  refuse to finish hits along the boards, and miss FOUR open-nets in the 3rd period!  I can deal with Sjostrom getting robbed by the stick of Tampa’s goalie Mike Smith, but Jaromir Jagr should be ashamed for letting a Defenseman slide across and block his shot.  No question that puck should have been ripped to the upper half of the net.  Instead, he unleashed a flittering misfire along the ice. Just horrible.

Anyway, the Rangers had better figure out where to find some energy, and quick.  They have three games this week against Atlantic Division foes: Pittsburgh on Tuesday, New Jersey on Wednesday, and Philadelphia on Friday.  I, for one, would really like to see Ryan Hollweg back in the lineup Tuesday.  And I know Eric (and our sister Melissa) would love to see Petr Prucha back on the ice.  We shall see.

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The loss to the Panthers was a tough one because they had some serious scoring chances at the end and just couldn’t put the puck in the net.  The loss snapped a 13-game streak in which the Rangers had not lost in regulation.

Earlier in the week, Tom Renney had mentioned he would probably start Valiquette in one of the two games in Florida.  After the loss last night, however, it seems he has abandoned that plan and will stick with Lundqvist.  Lundqvist is playing well right now, and I understand Renney’s desire to stay with what’s been working, but with games this week on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday, he has to be careful not to overwork Henrik.

The rest of the lineup will probably stay the same for tonight’s game.  The Defense will definitely be the same tonight, since Mara and Malik are both hurt.  We might see some changes in the forwards — Petr Prucha anyone?  We shall see.

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The Rangers are looking good.

How about Marek Malik? I didn’t hear anyone at the Garden booing the much-maligned defenseman after he scored a goal and an assist. He received a loud ovation when he was announced as the second star of the game in what might have been his Rangers curtain-call. Hey Rangers fans: stop booing your own players! We are not the Knicks!

How about Jaromir Jagr? He scored a sweet goal, tucking the puck inside the post while going full speed past the net. After going most of the season without making much noise, he is finally starting to look like the Rangers best player (which is what he is).

How about Scott Gomez? Finally looking comfortable on this side of the Hudson, Gomez scored a goal and 2 assists.

How about Tom Renney?  He looks like a genius.  The new line combos have been awesome.  This is the Rangers team everyone wanted to see before the season started.  The top 3 lines are capable of scoring any time they are on the ice, and the 4th line provides a few solid shifts every period.  The Defense looks solid, and with Henrik starting to look like his old self in the net, this Rangers team certainly looks like they can be competitive with any team in the East.

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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.
-Eric

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.

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