Saturday, October 17, 2009

GameDay: Rangers at Toronto

Our resurgent New York Rangers carry their 6 win, 12 point season on the road to Toronto, to take on an angry, winless, desperate Maple Leaf team.

How the once mighty Leafs have tumbled! This season has so far been a disaster for them. They can't score. They can't defend. They can't play special teams. Add it all up and its a winless record and a season that may be lost beyond repair in October. In their last home game the Toronto fans booed their way through most of the third period (and don't laugh - we've been there).

So tonight our Rangers are likely to see a team focused and determined to compete. The Leafs will not go quietly. We are more likely to see a war this evening. One win - especially over a hot team like we suddenly are - would be a huge boost for Toronto - and they know it and will give it everything they have.

The two teams met on our home ice last week - and it was fairly close until the third period. The Rangers started the final frame clinging to a precarious 3-2 lead. But that's when Tortorella's focus on conditioning took over and let the Rangers pull away for a 7-2 win (including Avery's first pair of goals for the season)

The Blueshirts eventually made a party of the game - as Nugman pointed out - Avery celebrated like it was a playoff game - and this is not likely to be forgotten by the Maple Leafs.

Here are our probable lines tonight - and we commend Tortorella for forming good lines and sticking with them to let the chemistry develop.

The Gab line: Gaborik-Dubinsky-Prospal - these guys are lighting up the night sky. Gab and Vaclav with 10 points each. Fun to watch

The American Line: Callahan, Drury, and Higgins. Hard working - and a point explosion waiting to happen. Chris Higgins certainly looks like he's going to combust if he doesn't get a goal soon.

Sean's Line will change as Kotalik will replace Lisin -changing this to the A-K-A line. The rookie "Anis" is is hanging in there at the NHL level and will only get better as the season goes on. Sean missed the first 5 games with a knee injury but is back being his Avery self - drawing penalties and driving his opponents to distraction - which is the plan exactly.

The Brash Line - Brashear-probably returns to join Boyle. And Lisin either falls here to replace Voros - or Lisin falls all the way off the active roster. Boyle had a big goal against the Kings Wednesday. And Brashear has - well - he's had some interesting fights and taken some penalties.

On defense - Torts again looks smart in figuring that rookies like Gilroy and Del Zotto could jump right in - and they have. And an in-shape Redden is playing better this year.

And in goal - should we rest Hank tonight? You know - I'd do it. Valli threw a shut out last time out and the Leafs just saw Lundqvist. But word on the street is Hank takes the net.

So expect Toronto to come at us - hard - all evening. But then - this is another good test. Can Torts keep the guys on track and working hard in the face of all this success?

The puck drops at 7pm.
Don't forget my fellow BlueshirtBrother Nugman. Take a few seconds to vote on the poll to the right. Tell him we need him - or he'll leave the site forever.

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