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Weekly Preview: A Potpourri of Opponents

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mats zuccarello

The Rangers have a lighter week than last, playing two home games and one on the “road”: road being in quotation marks as Newark is historically heavily Ranger-land. With a brief reprise from a hectic week, the Rangers don’t have to think about a back-to-back until the new year.

This week features an array of opponents from different divisions: one Pacific (ANA), one Metropolitan rival (NJD), and one Atlantic (TOR). As always, let’s take a look at the Metro and the Rangers playoff standings (as of Sunday afternoon):

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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.

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The Rangers won’t be seeing this face

The Rangers enter another week of work with just three games, two on the road, but both within 400 miles of the bright lights of Broadway. The Rangers will be facing divisional rivals, first in Pittsburgh, then in Washington, and finally the Devils… and these are not the matchups that we’re used to in years past.

The Metropolitan Division is extraordinarily tight, with the top six teams separated by only five points. Of course, only about a third of the way through the season is not the ideal time to discuss playoff seeding, but it’s likely that this will be a nail biter all the way through April. Here are the standings as of last night:

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The Rangers beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 last night, capitalizing on the Canes premature pull of goaltender Scott Darling with two minutes left in the third period. Michael Grabner got a hat trick off of two empty net goals and Paul Carey added a last minute trash goal to inflate the score much larger than the actual play would indicate.

The game was pretty evenly matched through the first period and a half, despite Carolina’s goal occurring within one minute of the game opening. You’d never be able to tell from the final scores of each of their matchups, but these two teams are similar: both are fringe playoff teams, both have talent, yet both have glaring issues that need to be fixed in order to go far.

Let’s break down some key points of the game:

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Categories : Game Wrap-ups
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Weekly Preview: win another two at home

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Photo Credit: Chris Seward

The Rangers are doing whatever is necessary to rake out two points each game lately, at times more theatrically than others. At the same time, they’re seemingly investing heavily in high blood pressure medication for their fans, which has become a requirement. The past two games have taught us that this team is magical at the Garden… magical in that they pull wins out of nowhere.

This week is relatively quiet, with games only tonight and Friday, and can help launch the Rangers higher in the rankings of a tight Metropolitan Division. As of Tuesday morning, the Metropolitan looks like this:

Listen: both of the games this week are easily winnable. Easily. In fact, the Rangers have already beaten both of these teams, and scored 11 goals between those two games. We aren’t in “must win” territory anymore, but it’d be silly not to win these.

On to the games:

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Image c/o Labatt Blue

The Rangers looked to right the ship last night in Columbus, just two days after suffering their first loss in two weeks. Sadly for the Blueshirts, they faced the same hot goalie that they did last week in Sergei Bobrovsky, except this time, they were unable to score.

This game featured Brendan Smith’s return to the lineup, marking his first start since the October 31 win against Vegas. The game also featured the return of the ever-infuriating Pavel Buchnevich Project, where inexplicably, some players get long leashes whilst others do not.

On to the bullet points… Read More→

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The Rangers have pulled themselves together for a lengthy win streak, currently at six games as they enjoy a few days off for needed rest. From an abysmal start, the past two weeks have proven to be just what the doctor ordered in getting the Rangers back in the thick of things.

The Rangers’ play has become much more cohesive, and fans in general should be excited about this progress. The standings have progressed nicely, as shown below (far right column indicates points on the first column, indicating standings as of November 1):

This week the Rangers will be on the road for two games, something unusual for the team who has only seen five away games in 18 this season. Let’s take a look at what they’ll be facing.

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Categories : Musings
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Courtesy @nyrangers

The Rangers beat Florida last night in overtime, racking up their third win in a row and second straight in overtime. This week has been a breakout from the October doldrums, and a reason for hope in Rangerstown. These are the Rangers we have been waiting to see.

There were lots of spots of optimism in the game last night, including the power play and getting goals from different sources. The defense accounted for three of the five goals (Shattenkirk 2, Holden) and Rick Nash is finally shaking the monkey off his back, netting one goal and one heck of a performance.

Some key takeaways from last night’s game: Read More→

Categories : Game Wrap-ups
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See you soon, old pal

On the eve of Game 13 of the season, the Rangers find themselves firmly in panic mode, needing to right the sinking ship. If the Titanic has taught us anything, it’s that a) Jack could have fit on that door, and b) you need to make sure you have enough life boats to save the ship. It seems the life boats, as the “gimme” games against Montreal and Arizona, have sailed far away.

The Rangers are looking out on Games 13, 14 and 15 this week against two very hot teams and one team playing average hockey. The time to have turned the ship around would have been last week, and it looked like that almost happened against Montreal. Unfortunately, the regulation loss against the Canadiens on Saturday night could prove to be more harmful than it seems.

Let’s take a look at what lies in the week ahead.

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The past and present: comparing coaches

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I miss you, Torts

There’s a reason that there has been so much chatter around Alain Vigneault, questioning his ability to coach the team for success. Forgetting the obvious issues on the ice, an important theme to remember with sports, especially in a large market, is recency bias. What have you done for me lately?

If your response is “take the team to the Stanley Cup Final,” well, I have some potentially upsetting news for you: it’s 2017. The team lost it all in June, 2014. In the past three years, the Rangers have made it to the Eastern Conference Finals (2015), the first round (2016), and the second round (last May), in exactly that order. It’s been a while since the team has made it very far, and the talent continues to wither under some confusing management.

When Vigneault joined the team mid-2013, it was a refreshing change of pace from the gritty, physical John Tortorella-era Rangers. Unfortunately, at this rate, is Vigneault really much different from what Tortorella became with the Rangers?

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Categories : Coaching
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