Dany Heatley is finally coming to the Rangers. Not as a Sather acquisition, but as a member of the visiting San Jose Sharks tonight. To Dany and his team the game will seem like a 4pm start to their west coast internal clocks. I had originally thought they might be flying cross country today - but an alert Blueshirt Brothers Reader "RyanLoral" was able to scout the Sharks practicing at Chelsea Piers on Sunday so we can confirm they've been in town over the weekend. (Great catch Ryan and thanks for the assist)
On to the GameDay preview:
Who The Hell Are We Playing?: San Jose is 4-3-1 this season, good enough for the 8th and final seed if the season ended today (which would be mighty odd after just 8 games, don't you think?). But they're just one point behind Phoenix for 1st place in the pacific division. Last year of course they topped the NHL with 117 points.
Primary Skaters: San Jose is led by Center Mighty Joe Thorton with 13 points (2 G's, and a league leading 11 A's). The famous Left winger, Mr. Dany Heatley who talked his way out of Ottawa and nearly on to the Rangers before landing on the Sharks, has 10 points (5 G's, 5 A's). Center Pat Marleau leads the team with 6 goals (and 7 points).
In Net: Their primary goalie is Evgeni Nabokov, with a 2.63 goals against average and a .913 save percentage. In contrast, King Henrik is better – having only let up 2.15 per game with a .932 save percentage
Scoring & Defense: So far the Sharks have been averaging 3.13 goals a game (we have been letting up 1.88 on average). And San Jose's defense has let up 2.88 goals a game (we are scoring an amazing 4 goals per)
Scheduling Conflicts: The Sharks come in after an off day. They beat the Islanders 4-1 on Saturday and lost 4-1 to the Caps on Thursday. After tonight they get two off days and play Tampa Bay on Thursday. The Rangers beat the Leafs on Saturday but didn't look all that great doing it. So in theory, both teams will be in about the same state rest-wise. But in reality, as the Sharks have been away from home and partying in New York all weekend - they may show some sag by the Third period tonight. The New York Nightlife: that's what we call home ice advantage.
Special Effects: The Sharks powerplay scores 26.5% of the time (the resurgent Rangers PP is at 26.3%) . San Diego's PK is at 81.6% and ours is an amazing 88.1%
And for your New York Rangers, Probable Lines:
1: The GAB line: Gaborik-Dubinsky-Prospal – still firing on all cylinders. One more point for Gaborik and he breaks the all time Ranger record for consecutive point games from the start of the season – which has stood since the 1950s.
2: The former American Line will now be known as the Old Rangers with Avery replacing Chris Higgins – who has not scored and is struggling and was demoted by Tortorella in the 3rd period Saturday. Avery joins Drury and Callahan – all contributing Rangers from last year's team.
3: The third line changes yet again as Kotolik joined Sunday from the 4th line and Higgins flops aboard tonight from the 2nd line. Anisimov will have had different linemates in 3 straight games now. We'll call it the HAK line (for Higs, Anis, and “Kannon” Kotalik).
4: The Brash Line – named for Brashear – stays the same with Boyle and Lisin. Lisin contributed with a Goal Saturday. Or Voros, a healthy scratch Saturday – could scoot in here
On defense - Torts has the 6 backstops playing pretty well – though Rozy's not exactly sparkling back there. This will be the 9th game – the one where the official decision on Del Zott0 will have to be made – but save your worry beads – Zots has made the hockey club.
And in goal – the continuing question - should we rest Hank tonight? I would have done this over the weekend – but not sure about now. You would want him against the Devils later in the week though – so maybe he sits here.
Predictions: Not sure what to make of this. We've played worse these last 2 games, but kept our win streak alive at 7. So far Torts has stepped in and fixed any trouble spots – and he'll need to here to keep the streak going. Tough opponent.
I'm not sure what Nugman will do – he's having a crisis of faith right now (and please take a moment to support him in the poll on the top right side of this page) – but no matter what - one of us will be back to recap later on tonight. Thanks to all of you who voted in the pool – and if you haven't – it just takes a second.
Puck hits the ice at 7PM. I think we've got an not-on-MSG cable issue tonight – so you can expect to find me hunting down a good web-feed of the game.
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