Look. It's simple. The Rangers need to start Chad Johnson in goal tonight against the Carolina Hurricane. Here's why:
1 - You need to get Henrik Lundqvist some rest or he will burn out or break down all over again. The number of games Hank has had to play so far this year is ridiculous and the Rangers need to address this - today.
2 - You need to see what your back-up goaltender can do. You need to evaluate the guy so we can see if he's any good or if we need to find someone else to play second goalie on this team. It's pointless to have him on the roster if you're not going to use him.
3 - You've got a 2 game winning streak - something quite rare for this team these days. So there is less pressure on the goalie today than there would be after a loss.
4- You're facing the undisputed worst team in the NHL (more on that later). So it's a perfect way to ease the kid in.
You'll never have a better moment than right now to get Chad Johnson his first NHL start. So, come on Glen, come on John. Give the kid a chance. Let's see what he can do.
Anyway - that's my opinion - and now on to the preview:
Who the Hell are we playing? Sometimes its hard to figure out exactly who the worst team in hockey is. After all - a few bounces - a few goals - a few wins - and you're worst team might not be the worst at all.
Not in this case. The Carolina Hurricane - our opponent this evening are head and shoulders BELOW everybody else.
To illustrate what I'm talking about, let's compare the Hurricane with the 29th best team in the NHL: the Philadelphia Flyers - who happen to have been our last opponent.
The Flyers have 32 points - the Hurricane have 24. The Flyers have 15 wins - the Hurricane just have 9. 9 wins. We got our 9th win in October.
In short - we should beat these guys.
Primary Skaters: Ray Whitney and Tuomo Ruutu (great name) each have 10 goals, which leads the Hurricane. Defenseman Joni Pikanen leads the team with 15 assist. And no one who has played more than 11 games has a positive plus-minus. Rob Brind’Amour is at -19.
In Net: Cam Ward, in 20 games, has a 3.12 GAA and an .896 save percentage. He has backup though (unlike some teams I could mention). Manny Legace is 3.09 and .899 in 12 appearances. And Mike Leighton is 4.28 and .848% in 7 games. Hank is better than all of them.
Scoring & Defense: The Hurricane’s 2.51 goals per game trails our 2.74 somewhat. But the real difference is in goals allowed - they let up 3.66 goals a game to our 2.89.
Special Effects: As you’d expect, we dominate here as well. Our PP is 6th best at 22.3%. Carolina’s is 28th best, scoring only 15.4% of the time. Carolina’s PK is somewhat “better”, they are 21st in the league with a 78.9% kill ratio. Our PK is 6th best again with an 84.7% success rate.
Scheduling Conflicts: We played Saturday afternoon and won. They won on Saturday – a 3-2 victory over Florida.
Line 1: Prospal-Dubinsky-Gaborik: how we started the season.
Line 2: Higgins-Christensen-Callahan: Merry Christmas Christensen – you want from Waivers to centering the Ranger’s second line.
Line 3: Avery-Anisimov-Lisin: I’m not happy that Sean is down here on 3.
Line 4: Boyle-Drury-Brashear: The Captain bottoms out to the 4th line. How awkward is that? But – for what it’s worth - he’s responded with some goals.
Back At The Line: Some movement here as John Tortorella and Glen Sather have send Heikkinen and Sanguinetti down to the minors and have brought back Matt Gilroy - our current plus-minus leader among defenseman.
But that seems to imply that the benching of Wade Redden may be coming to an end. This makes me a little sad as his healthy scratches the last two games was the feel-good story of the holiday season.
The unit is rounded out as usual by Girardi, Del Zotto, Staal, and Rozsival.
Fronting the Twine: Like we said up top - Start Chad. If you're ever going to give the kid a chance - the time is now.
Dave Puck Predicts: This one looks too easy. So it scares me. But I’m game and I’ll say a 3-2 win.
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