Game 12: Rangers vs. Coyotes

Tonight, our beloved Blueshirts take on the surprisingly good Hamilton Phoenix Coyotes. The ‘Yotes are led by Shane Doan and Ed Jovanovski, their leading point scorers this season. The biggest surprise is Radim Vrbata, who got his money in Tampa, only to crash and burn, only to be resurrected in Phoenix (really?) and lead the team in goals with four. The 6-3-0 ‘Yotes will be a tough challenge, and if the Rangers look to right this ship, they will need to play smart.

There are many Ranger stories to discuss for this game, so let’s break it down a bit:

  • The Rangers are playing some pretty terrible hockey lately, and have lost three straight, albeit one in overtime. The Rangers’ problems stem from some pretty bad habits that have developed during the seven game win streak, specifically taking way too many lazy penalties, and no longer challenging the puck carrier to disrupt the opponents’ offensive flow. The Rangers are not a good enough team to win while taking seven penalties a game and playing passive defense. Mike Cammalleri’s OT winner on Saturday night really illustrated the second point, as he walked in essentially untouched, save for a Marian Gaborik poke check (sort of), and ripped a shot that Henrik Lundqvist had no shot against. The defense needs to step up, preferably before hitting the crease.
  • Chris Higgins and Brandon Dubinsky were benched for the entire third period against Montreal, each committing an egregious error that led to a goal. Dubinsky acknowledged he was upset, and will probably look to maintain control of the puck a little better.
  • Higgins, on the otherhand, has been downright awful so far this year, and, as Jeremy stated, his play is generating a lot of concern. He needs to play better, case closed.
  • Tonight marks the return of my old-favorite Ranger, Petr Prucha. Lauri Korpikoski is also making his return, but he didn’t have as much of an impact on the Rangers as Prucha did. Prucha was the first homegrown player since Mike York to score 30 goals in a rookie season, and we were all excited. Prucha’s numbers slipped with the addition of Brendan Shannahan, as Shanny took all of Pru’s PP time, but he still managed to net 22 goals that year. After that, he must have beaten Tom Renney’s dog to death or something, because he never saw the ice again. Pru should get a very warm welcome, and I sitting in Section 323 Row C, sporting my Prucha jersey (come say hi), to contribute to the welcome.

As for the lines, the Rangers are putting the Benched Brothers together with Ryan Callahan. Donald Brashear is no longer sore, and will be playing in place of Aaron Voros tonight. Expect a Tom Renney amount of line shakeups tonight, as our struggling Blueshirts look to find some sort of answer to the funk.

Game time is 7pm on MSG. If you’re going to the game, come say hi. Otherwise, use this thread to discuss the game. We had a lot of comments during the Canadiens game, and we definitely want to keep the chatter going. Enjoy the game.