Ever since the lockout - In the NHL regular season games - when after 65 minutes (that's 3 periods and a 5 minute 4 on 4 over time period) you still have a tie game - we go to the Shoot Out (or "SO" for short). The teams line up and take turns with penalty-shot style breakaways. It's one-on-one - the goalie versus a lone offensive player. It's the most exciting play in hockey - And what's at stake is a point in the standings.
In the upcoming 2009-2010 season - I think the Rangers will be better than last year because our shoot out record is going to improve to the best in hockey. And here's why:
1 - Ales Kotalik. The Rangers acquired Higgins in the off-season and he just happens to be one of the top Shoot Out scorers of all time. That means shoot out goals.
2 - Gaborik. When he's healthy, Marian is one of the league's top goal producers. And he's no muck-around-the-net guy, he's got a great, nasty, fast and accurate shot and is a tremendous skater.
3 - And returning on the SO defense in goal we have Lundqvist - one of the best goalies in hockey and a great defender against breakaways and in the Shoot Out. In fact - if I could pick any current NHL goalie to defend my goal in a shhotout it would be Henrik.
So between Kotalik and Gabby - we're going to score more SO goals. And Hank is not going to let up very many. And even the guys at Blueshirt Brothers can figure out that this points to lots of tie games becoming Ranger wins. Which means extra points in the standings - better playoff seeding, and a sense of confidence in close games. All of which will make the Rangers a better team then they were last time around.