Archive for Game Thread
The Rangers return home tonight to take on an ailing Penguins club that is having a rough month. The Penguins are dealing with a ton of injuries. As noted by their lineup, they are basically dressing half of their AHL team to deal with their injuries. Seriously, that blue line is a train wreck right now.
I’m expecting this to be a high scoring affair. The forwards on the Rangers should be able to steam roll that Pittsburgh blue line tonight. Meanwhile, the Penguins still have Crosby and Kessel, so they are capable of scoring despite the AHL lineup around them. This is not going to be indicative of any potential playoff matchup, but is the perfect time for the Rangers to get back to proper process in their own end.
The Rangers finish out their California trip tonight in San Jose, with another attempt to get that fancy little “x” next to their name in the standings. However if they are going to clinch, they will need to do it against the playoff-bound Sharks, who are one of the top teams in the West.
This is another stress-free game, which sounds about right because I rarely am able to keep my eyes open for these late games. The Rangers are in a unique spot where their games don’t matter anymore. It’s all about preparing for the playoffs right now. Even though the lineups may change regularly, proper process and effort on the ice should not. Those are the keys now.
After last night’s win in Los Angeles, the Rangers can clinch a playoff spot tonight in Anaheim. However the Pacific Division leading Ducks are no pushover. They have a deep blue line and a pretty solid top nine. However their fourth line leaves a lot to be desired, and their top pair of Fowler/Vatanen is a wee bit overrated.
As for the Rangers, The King returns tonight. Antti Raanta was phenomenal in the starting role while Hank was out, but this is Hank’s team. Hank was playing very well before his injury, and it’s expected that he will be able to repeat that performance as he gears up for a playoff run. The Rangers will need him to catch fire for them to have a chance of playoff success.
The Rangers played very well last night against the Devils, and will look to repeat the same process against the Isles. The beautiful part here is that the Rangers can deal a critical blow to the Isles’ playoff chances with a win in regulation tonight. The tough part is that the Isles are significantly better than the Devils.
With Jack Capuano out, the Isles have dressed a somewhat better lineup. Josh Ho-Sang has added much needed speed and skill to the top-six, and the Isles now have eight forwards capable of scoring any time they are on the ice. Their blue line is missing Johnny Boychuck, and that third pair can be exposed by the Kid Line if given the opportunity. Should be a back-and-forth game.
We are in the home stretch. The final ten games of the season. Tonight the Rangers are in Newark to take on the Devils in a game that will surely boast mostly Rangers fans in the stands. This is also the last time these two teams face off this season, and the Rangers have a chance to sweep the season series.
The Devils are more of the same no offense team they’ve been for a while now. There are two or three offensive weapons on this team, but one of them is one of the best wingers in the game. The difference now is their defense is pretty terrible too. It’s a miracle that Cory Schneider hasn’t mutinied yet.
The Rangers are on a second of a back-to-back, facing a Minnesota Wild team that is one of the favorites to come out of the wide open Western Conference. In the West, it’s Minnesota, Chicago, San Jose, and then everyone else. However Minny has cooled off considerably over the last month, playing .500 hockey.
The Wild boast depth and skill up and down the lineup and solid goaltending to boot. There aren’t many holes in their lineup, and it’s a reason why they are with the elites in the West. If you’re looking for a true test of how the Rangers will fare in the playoffs, this is it.
After three days off, the Rangers begin their second of four straight sets of back-to-back games. Tonight it’s at MSG against the Florida Panthers, who the Rangers beat handily early last week. The Cats are well out of the playoff picture at this point, but that doesn’t mean they are a push over. After all, the game is at MSG, which has been a house of horrors this year for the Rangers.
For the Blueshirts, the focus needs to be on proper process. It’s tough when the team is just starting to get healthy and still missing two or three starters. Regardless, the Rangers have been getting relatively sloppy, especially when it comes to zone exits/entries. Controlling the puck out of your own zone and into the opposition’s zone should be top priority. It’s critical for the playoffs.
The Rangers return home tonight to face the Lightning as the rest of us prepare for a March blizzard. Personally, I would have preferred those 60 degree days we had in February to be now, and the blizzard to have happened then. What a pain.
The last time the Rangers faced the Bolts was last week, and Antti Raanta stood on his head in a game the Rangers did not deserve to win. Hopefully with a healthier lineup, better process follows. At this point in the season, it’s about playing the right way. Proper process breeds playoff wins.
The Rangers are in Detroit tonight as they continue their string of games against non-playoff teams. Detroit isn’t really good, and will certainly miss the playoffs for the first time in 25 years. That’s one amazing run, but the Wings are a team in transition. They sold at the deadline, with the Rangers being a benefactor in landing Brendan Smith. This will also be the Rangers’ final trip to Joe Louis Arena. I always wanted to see a game at The Joe. Never got the opportunity to.
This game represents a chance for the Rangers to get back on track, however they will need to do so with a growing injury list. Henrik Lundqvist is out for 2-3 weeks, joining the walking wounded of five injured starters. Such is life. Better now than in April though. Either way, the Rangers shouldn’t have any issues with Detroit. But I’ve been wrong before.
The Rangers are in Carolina tonight looking to extend their winning streak to three in a row. They will be even more shorthanded though, as they are without Rick Nash and Henrik Lundqvist. Luckily Carolina has awful goaltending and trouble scoring. This is the third in a row against weak teams as well. So this win streak was easily predictable. Naturally, hello trap game.
If the Rangers are aiming to mirror a performance, they’d be best aiming to mirror the performance on Tuesday against Florida. Antti Raanta stood on his head on Monday to get the win over Tampa Bay in a game that was riddled with bad process. At this time of the year, with a playoff spot solidified, getting consistent and stable process means more than points. Play the right way, and wins in the playoffs will come.