Archive for Game Thread
The Rangers are in Detroit today looking to beat a pretty bad team, something they’ve been struggling to do lately. The Wings are going to miss the playoffs after about 400 years in a row of making them. They have some pretty solid young talent up front, and it’s only recently that they’ve been starting to play more over the veterans. On the blue line, they are almost as bad as the Rangers, but not quite totally bad.
As for the Rangers, well we know where they stand at this point.
Disclaimer: I’m in New Orleans, and wrote this before I flew out Thursday. I did the best I could to predict the lineups. Considering this was done a few days in advance, it’s likely off.
The Rangers are in Toronto tonight to take on the Leafs, a team that is a lot better than you might think. They beat the Rangers the last time they faced each other, and this time the Leafs are facing damaged goods. The Rangers were laughably bad against Dallas on Tuesday. On the bright side, they can’t get much worse. Right? RIGHT?
It’s been a rocky road for the Rangers, who have been either flat or flat out humiliated for an alarming number of recent games. The defense needs to defend. The forwards need to back check. The goalie needs to make more saves on shots he should be stopping. They all need to get their acts together.
After going 0-2 in their Ontario stretch, and playing relatively poor hockey to boot, the Rangers are back in action tonight to take on the struggling yet potent Dallas Stars. The Stars have a ton of scoring depth, but inconsistent defense and goaltending has plagued them all year. When you factor in that the potent offense is more bark than bite right now, you get a team that should make the playoffs currently on the outside looking in.
As for the Rangers, they are finally healthy up front. Mika Zibanejad makes his return tonight after recovering from a broken leg. The forwards are finally healthy, and likely will look like this going forward. This is the same group that lit up the entire league in October. Hopefully it won’t take them long to get reacquainted and find that scoring touch again. The team could surely use it.
The Rangers are in Montreal tonight on the second of back to backs to face the Canadiens and Carey Price. This could be a first round matchup in April, as the Rangers are likely to finish fourth in the Metro with the top wild card with the Habs winning the Atlantic. I know, it’s premature. But I like to poke the bear sometimes too.
As for the Habs, they are mostly Carey Price. He always gives them a chance to win on any given night. Outside of him, they are top-heavy with not much depth. But they are without Alex Galchenyuk and Andrei Markov tonight. Even so, they are going to win the Atlantic for a reason. Plus the Rangers seem to struggle in the Bell Centre for some reason.
After a much needed bye week, the Rangers are back in action tonight and will see the returns of Rick Nash and Pavel Buchnevich. While that is the main story for the Rangers, it is not the primary focus of the pregame. The organization will be honoring Detective Steven McDonald tonight, who passed away this week after suffering a heart attack.
The Rangers have presented the Steven McDonald Extra Effort Award each season since 1987-88 to the Rangers player who goes above and beyond the normal call of duty, in honor of McDonald, who was shot in 1986 while on duty in Central Park. The incident left him a quadiplegic. McDonald was laid to rest today in a service where Adam Graves –who has won the award a record five times– spoke.
Detective McDonald was an inspiration to many and was a symbol of hope, courage, and forgiveness. McDonald was also a huge Rangers fan. He is survived by his wife and son, Conor, who followed his footsteps to the NYPD. Rest in peace.
The Rangers are in Columbus tonight to take on a white-hot Blue Jackets team that is fresh off an amazing 16 game winning streak. However this streak is not like the Flyers streak of ten in a row, where amazing shooting and goaltending masked some underlying issues with puck possession. The Blue Jackets have great possession numbers, playing an aggressive style and riding great special teams. This isn’t the Tortorella Rangers, this CBJ team is good.
As for the Rangers, they are literally limping in to the bye week. They have five injuries to deal with, four to key players. It’s tough to stay consistent when missing an entire top line. However the injury to Staal finally forced Alain Vigneault to juggle the defense pairings. It worked like a charm against the Flyers, as the one thing that remained static during inconsistent play was finally changed up. Perhaps this is the beginning of the much needed shakeup on defense.
After winning three in a row against bad teams, the Rangers really laid an egg last night against Buffalo, another bad team. Luckily the Rangers are usually better on the second game of back-to-backs, and have a division rival coming to town to hopefully wake them up. The Rangers and Flyers always play each other tough, so maybe this is exactly what the Rangers need.
Waking up is one thing, but getting back to proper process is another. Even when they look awake, they aren’t playing great hockey. The Flyers, aside from the division rival aspect, represent a team that is over achieving based off expected goals (xG), in which they are bottom-five. Long story short, the bottom might be falling out of the Flyers soon, may as well try to take advantage of it.
After two wins against the worst teams in the Western Conference, the Rangers are back home tonight to take on the worst team in the Eastern Conference. What sets the Buffalo Sabres apart from the Colorado Avalanche and the Arizona Coyotes is that they’ve actually crossed over the 30 point barrier. While not statistically eliminated from the playoffs, they are going to be a lottery team this year, the third opponent in a row the Rangers will face.
Making matters worse for the Sabres is the injury to Ryan O’Reilly, one of their many skilled forwards. This is still a team that has the potential to score a ton, as their forwards have the skill and speed that can give the Rangers slow defense fits. Even so, this is another team that the Rangers should not only be beating, but dominating on the scoreboard and in overall process. But like the games out West, nothing in proper process is a given.
After the less than convincing win in Glendale, the Rangers travel to Denver to face the only team worse than the Coyotes in the Colorado Avalanche. This team is a train wreck right now, so naturally this is a trap game for the Rangers. Looking at the Avs’ lineup, they have a a solid top line, 2/3 of a solid second line, and then an average/below average bottom-six. I have no idea what to make of their defense.
The Avs are weird. They should be better, I think. There’s a good amount of skill, but they are clearly not a complete team. As for the Rangers, they matchup well against the Avs, and their forwards should have free reign in the offensive zone. However the Avs’ top line may give the Rangers defense fits if given too much space. It would be nice to close out the new year with a convincing win, but execution needs to be on the Rangers side.
The Rangers have finally hit a soft spot in the schedule, with a hard fought –albeit relatively sloppy– win against Ottawa the other night to kick things off. Now they are in Glendale to take on the pretty terrible Arizona Coyotes. And I do mean terrible, they have 27 points this season. The Colorado Avalanche, the Saturday night opponent, have 25 points.
Suffice it to say, this is the time when the Rangers need to start focusing on proper process again, as they’ve been slacking over the past few games. They can get away with it against the Senators, Avs, and Yotes, but playoff teams will run all over them. But proper process also needs to be met with consistency.
There is no reason why the Rangers shouldn’t beat the Yotes, especially when you look at the team they are dressing.