Archive for Game Thread

Jan
06

Game 41: Raanta Reunion

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antti raanta

Photo: Harry Howe/Getty Images

The Rangers are in Arizona tonight to face the already-lottery-team Coyotes, a team that is so bad it really defies all logic. On paper, the Coyotes should be better. They’ve dealt with some injuries, that’s for sure, but they have a talented young forward group and a surprisingly solid –on paper– blue line, minus that bottom pair. They should be better. Coaching? Players? Both?

The story the last time these two teams met was the return of Derek Stepan to Madison Square Garden. Antti Raanta was injured and did not play in that game. Tonight the story will be Raanta facing his former team. Don’t expect an emotional affair this time around, but it still stinks to see Stepan in Arizona. Raanta, good for him on getting a starting role, something he deserved.

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Jan
03

Game 40: Nobody likes Patrick Kane

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AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

After the win in the Winter Classic, the Rangers are back at MSG to take on the not-so-surprisingly mediocre Blackhawks. The Hawks are no longer the feared team in the West, as a few bad contracts and a pair of monster deals have hampered their ability to get depth behind their stars.

That said, Chicago is still a potent offense. They can demolish an opponent on any given night. Remember this is the team that ended the Rangers six game win streak in November with a 6-3 win. The Rangers were sloppy, and the Hawks can still put the puck in the net.

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Jan
01

Game 39: The Winter Classic

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The Rangers and Sabres face off today in the annual Winter Classic, this year from Citi Field. The Rangers are going to look to take advantage of a bad team on a national/outdoor stage. The Sabres are going to look to well, not be the Sabres for one day.

It may just be another game in the standings, but it’s a pretty cool scene for guys who haven’t been there before. Vinny Lettieri’s second NHL game will be the Winter Classic. This is the first time Boo Nieves, Brady Skjei, and others will play on this stage. But here’s hoping the rest of the team shows up too.

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Dec
29

Game 38: Vinny Lettieri’s debut

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Credit: AP / Paul Sancya)

After a much better performance against Washington on Wednesday, the Rangers are in Detroit to try to build on that win. The biggest change in that game was the improved play at their own blue line. The Rangers stood up and didn’t allow controlled zone entries. That stymied the Caps’ high powered offense.

The other big change was the controlled exits once they had the puck. The Caps weren’t playing aggressively, so the Rangers didn’t have to constantly flip the puck out of the DZ and hope their forwards chased it down. That’s the type of hockey the Rangers are going to need to play to be successful. Luckily Detroit isn’t that good, so they have another game to practice it.

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Dec
27

Game 37: Return to action

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NashOrpik caps

After a much needed holiday break, the Rangers are back in action tonight against the Washington Capitals. The Caps are back to full health, and while the Rangers always play them tough, aren’t going to be a push over. This is a high powered offense with decent defense and solid goaltending. In theory, they are a Cup contender.

The Rangers are without Jesper Fast and have put the lines through a blender after playing miserable hockey before the break. This is a team that has not only been getting outshot badly, but has looked awful in the process. The first step is to get back to not getting out shot by 50. Baby steps.

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mats zuccarello

The Rangers host the Leafs tonight, a team they lost 8-5 to in October. I’m not expecting the same outcome –Henrik Lundqvist is playing much better– but I wouldn’t be shocked if the Rangers get dominated again. They’ve played like poop over the past few games, with their goaltending and offense bailing out their horrendous defense.

But hey, just win, amirite? I’d love to see better process, since that is a better indicator of future (read: playoff) success. Toronto is a good team to get back into the swing of things. If anything, this game is going to be a ton of fun to watch. Both teams have high powered offenses. Should be a back and forth game.

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Dec
21

Game 35: Targeting four in a row

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rangers devils mats zuccarello

The Rangers have won three in a row and are fully healthy. Sure doesn’t feel like it, though. The Blueshirts, despite their recent runs through November and December, are still in the wild card spot. It shows how tough that Metro Division is, and how important games like tonight against the Devils are.

This is another critical four point swing game in a division where every point matters. The Blueshirts have a chance to leap frog the Devils in the standings tonight. This is the best time to play them too, as they’ve been mediocre at best and riding Cory Schneider for quite some time. It’s similar to the way the Rangers ride Hank, but without the scoring skill throughout the lineup. This is a winnable game.

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Dec
19

Game 34: Start the week off right

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AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

After two wins to close out last week and a tough 6-in-9 stretch, the Rangers got two much needed days off. Tonight they host the Ducks, fresh off their acquisition of Adam Henrique. Henrique was a much needed add for the Ducks, who were even thinner at center than the Rangers.

As for the Blueshirts, they are finally getting Mika Zibanejad back on the top line with Chris Kreider and Pavel Buchnevich. David Desharnais replaces Boo Nieves on the fourth line for some reason. Likely because we can’t have nice things.

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Dec
16

Game 33: Matinee(ish) in Boston

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rangers bruins jimmy vesey

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

After last night’s win against the Kings, the Rangers travel to Boston for a kinda-sorta matinee, with a 5pm start. I always found the 5pm starts to be a weird time. I get the 1pm start. I get the 12pm start, even if I hate it. I even get the 3pm start, assuming there’s a 12pm start before it on national TV. But the 5pm on MSG+2? I dunno.

As for the Bruins, they started off poorly, but have gone on a run to make themselves relevant in the pretty terrible Atlantic Division. Seriously, outside of Tampa and Toronto, there are a whole bunch of mediocre or outright bad teams. Boston being in third in the division isn’t exactly a sign of success. That said, they have enough talent up front to surprise teams, especially with Tuukka Rask in net.

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Dec
15

Game 32: Please play better

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mats zuccarello kings

Credit: AP / Mark J. Terrill

The Rangers have played a few clunkers in a short span, and have seen the good juju from their winning streak seemingly disappear. The win streak has been primarily due to a correction in PDO, with better goaltending and shooting accounting for most of the wins. The on-ice process is still pretty poor, especially in the defensive zone.

But that’s what the Rangers are. Score a lot and hope Hank makes the save. We may win, and we may die in the process. Tonight may be one of those games where we just watch in horror, as LA is apparently very good right now. They score a bunch –which I have no idea how, given that forward group– and are stifling on defense. This is the type of team that gives the Rangers nightmares. Of course now that I said that, the Blueshirts will win 9-0.

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