Dec
11

Weekly Preview: Busy, Important Week for the Rangers

December 11, 2017, by

Your Friday Night Matchup

As mentioned last week, and as will be likely be mentioned every week until April, the Metropolitan Division is tighter than Ron Duguay’s blazers. Despite a divisional matchup week last week for the Rangers, there hasn’t been much movement going on either way, so the Rangers just need to keep their heads up and win win win.

Here’s what the Divison standings look like as of Sunday night:

The Rangers are still shy of the playoffs, but certainly not out of the picture entirely – surprisngly, nobody really is with the division being separated by only ten points. The Rangers have four games this week, starting tonight, against mostly subpar opponents. The question will be whether they can cash in on easier games. The second question is if Henrik Lundqvist will play every game (my vote’s on yes).

Let’s take a look at the opponents.

Tonight, December 11 vs. Dallas Stars (16-13-1), 7:00pm

The Stars sport a similar record to the Rangers, with fewer goals for but a similar goals against. After having a semi-tragic few seasons of goaltending, the Stars signed former Lightning goalie Ben Bishop, who hasn’t quite lived up to his reputation so far. Bishop boasts a .909 save percentage this season, and backup Kari Lehtonen has a .903 save percentage through ten games played.

The usual suspects are good for Dallas: Tyler Seguin (28 points), Jamie Benn (25), and defensive star John Klingberg (25), with newcomer Alexander Radulov contributing another 25 points. This should be a fun, high scoring affair to spice up a Monday night.

Wednesday, December 13 at Ottawa Senators (9-12-7), 7:00pm

What a fall from grace the Sens have faced this season. Between mismanagement of players, inept defense and a general feeling of malaise throughout the fanbase, this is a team that might just be hanging up the skates til next season. Acquiring Matt Duchene has done almost nothing to help the anemic offense (though Kyle Turris is doing well in Nashville, so not sure what that means), and the Sens are coming off a West Coast road trip that handed them four losses outright.

The Sens will have played Buffalo the night before they face the Rangers, so it is likely they’ll face Mike Condon. It shouldn’t matter though: the Rangers healthy offense should roll against a defense in serious need of a shake up. Oh and, did I mention that the Canadian media is buzzing about a potential Erik Karlsson trade? This should be a gimme for the Rangers, even if it is on the road.

Friday, December 15 vs. Los Angeles Kings (20-8-3), 7:00pm

This game… will not be fun. The Kings lead the Western Conference with 43 points (as of Sunday night) and have always given the Rangers fits. Anze Kopitar will probably never slow down, as he’s got 38 points in 31 games played at age 30. Kopitar was recently put on a line with Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson; the line yielded six points in their win over Carolina on Saturday.

The Kings have won eight in a row, and will only face the Devils between now and Friday night. Jonathan Quick is still the starting goalie, the Rangers have lots of experience there, and will need to be on top of their game to take two from this contest.

Saturday, December 16 at Boston Bruins (14-9-4). 5:00pm

First of all, who scheduled this game? We should probably have a chat about a back-to-back with travel less than 24 hours apart. But I digress…

The Bruins are another team with a similar record to the Rangers, with slightly better xGF% and possession numbers. Tuukka Rask is still the goalie on record, but new backup Anton Khudobin has surprisingly good numbers and the same amount of wins (7) as Rask. Noted offensively-skilled pest Brad Marchand, who continually toes the line of clean vs. dirty hit, will also be playing after narrowly dodging league discipline due to a sketchy hit on John Tavares.

The difficulty here will lie within the Rangers playing 1- on the road and 2- so quickly after a tough night game less than 24 hours earlier. Sure, the boys in blue dazzle us at the Garden, and considering their schedule to open the season, we’re all grateful. Their road record is below .500, though, at 4-6-0. This’ll be a tough contest to improve that record.

Predictions

NYR 5 – DAL 3

NYR 4 – OTT 1

NYR 1 – LA 4

NYR 2 – BOS 3 (OT)

If the Rangers are able to get three points out of their two road games this week, I’ll be a happy camper. Again, all this team needs to do is keep their heads up, avoid stupid penalties, and win. This is a marathon, not a sprint, and I hope that’s resonating within the locker room.

As always, leave your predictions in the comments.

"Weekly Preview: Busy, Important Week for the Rangers", 5 out of 5 based on 4 ratings.
Categories : Preview

10 comments

  1. Richter1994 says:

    Huh, Ottawa under .500, shocker, NOT. Just another reminder that a team can play well for a few weeks at the right time can go far in the playoffs. In 2011, the SDens asked their players with restricted contracts where they would accept a trade to, and then the team got gutted. The Sens have done the same now. I wonder if Mark Stone is available.

    I’m not making any predictions but winning 2 is very probable. Or at least they better, starting with tonight.

    The good news is that the Devs will probably start to decline. The bad news is that the Pens will probably start to rise.

    • Stevem says:

      Morning brother.. wouldn’t Mark Stone look good on Broadway??

      • Richter1994 says:

        Hey pal, good offensive player. Don’t know about his D but would love to have him at a cheap trade cost. Remember this is Ottawa we’re talking about where trading contracts matters.

    • Becky says:

      Sens are shopping and looking to sell before the holiday freeze….. I would adore Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, even Jean Gabriel Pageau on Broadway

  2. Ranger17 says:

    What is up with DDE always getting thrown out of the face off why not just keep him off the PP and insert Fasty in Zibs spot on the left dot for a one timer while he is red hot and also give Grabs a shot . Any word when Z is coming back .
    Lets have a great week 7 out of 8 points LGR

    • Rhodork says:

      ZIbs skated as the extra D Saturday. I believe AV indicated he might be back in the line-up after a full practice. Question is, do they have any practices this week? 4 games and some travel.

      Also Ondrej is in goal tonight.

  3. Buch Nieves says:

    Great line about Duguay’s blazers, Becky, lol! Disagree slightly when you say *most* are beatable. Losses to the Kings and Bruins (away on second of back to back) would be understandable. A pessimist would say Dallas is a “trap game” and an optimist would say we could sweep all four.

    I thought Valiquette nailed it when he said in the Devils post game coverage that the Rangers had to be considered an “elite passing team.” Here is an “off the top of my head” surmise of the players who are in the category of elite passers. I’d be interested to hear others’ thoughts.

    (No particular order)
    J.T. Miller
    Zuccarello
    Shatty
    Skjei
    Hayes
    Zibanejad

    And I would consider the following to be “very good” passers:
    Buchnevich
    Holden
    Nieves (small sample size)

    Sure, we could use better finishers, but when you look at our shooting percentage and our scoring chances every game they indicate prime passing talent.

    • Becky says:

      I do think they can beat Boston, just think that game will be tough due to road issues and back to back in less than 24 hours 😐

  4. Eddie!Eddie!Eddie! says:

    Repeat after me…there are no gimmes in the NHL…there are no gimmes in the NHL…there are no gimmes in the NHL. 🙂

    Very pleased with 4 out of 6 points last week vs three teams ahead of us in the standings. Especially with two out of three on the road.

    This week…

    Dallas is dangerous because of their top line and no Hank in net for us.

    Ottawa and LA are the classic examples (on opposite ends of the spectrum) of the old sports adage—-you are never as great as you appear when you are going great, and you are never as awful as you appear when you are going bad. I always worry about a team like Ottawa finding their way at any moment. That moment could come Wednesday if the Rangers don’t bring their A game. LA has always had our number, as you pointed out, but human nature being what it is, they are due to lose. It wouldn’t at all shock me if the Rangers blow it on Wednesday and then come back with a big win Friday at home.

    Boston and the Rangers always play really tough, close games.

    I won’t predict the winners, but here’s a goaltending hunch. Since we now know Pavelec is playing tonight, as long as he plays well, my hunch is he also plays vs Ottawa to give Hank a nice rest. Then, we see Hank in back to back games this weekend.

    We shall see!