Friday, October 30, 2009

GameNight Tonight: Gabs to miss Wild Reunion (probably)

Opening Remarks: Okay – so there's this injury that Gaborik has that the Rangers will only talk about in the negative. You know, like “it's not his hip” and “it's not his groin” like a medical 20 questions. So we all know is what we all figured out on our own: that he banged knees with Petr Prucha and his right knee is the trouble spot. And we know that Gaborik is traveling to Minnesota with the team – but will not necessarily play tonight against his former team, the Wild. So we know Marian's travel schedule, but not his health status. Gaborik himself, on orders to not tell the truth to reporters, managed to tell us this:

“It’s not that serious. I thought it was going to be worse the way it felt. I have to make sure I do the right thing and treat it and take it day by day. It doesn’t feel great but it feels better.”

And now Avery and Higgins were reportedly too “banged up” (Tortorella's term) to practice Thursday. With Avery it is the knee again, and the poor goal-less Higgins has an ankle issue.
So our Rangers are hurting as they limp into Minnesota. And after a one game reprieve against Phoenix, we have officially resumed “reeling”.

Okay – on with the Preview:

Who The Hell Are We Playing? The Wild is (are?) 3-9, in last place in the Western conference. There's some comfort in that. But on the other hand, the Wild are 2-3 in their last 5 and we're just 1-4. So maybe it is the Wild are looking forward to playing us.

Primary Skaters: Minnesota has three players with 10 points: Centers Eric Belanger (2 G, 8 A) and the famous Mikko Koivu (3 G, 7 A), as well as left winger Andrew Bernette (7 G, 3 A)

In Net: Nik Backstrom is the Wild backstop. He has a 2.70 GAA and a Save % of .910, which is pretty good. Our own overworked Henrik Lundqvist is a slighter better 2.65 GAA and save % .915. Sounds like an even matchup.

Scoring & Defense: The Wild are getting outscored by more than a goal a game. They are averaging 2.17 on offense, while giving up 3.25 goals per game. For the Rangers the numbers have been better. We are scoring 3.62 goals a game and letting up (a rising) 2.77 per.
Special Effects: The Wild are the 2nd best Penalty Kill team in Hockey this year at 86.7%. We're 5th best at 85.2%. On the PowerPlay we're 7th at 25.5% and the Wild are 12th at 22.8%. So for a team way down in the standings, their Special teams are pretty good.
Scheduling Conflicts: The Rangers won Monday (beat Phoenix) and lost Wednesday (I can't bring myself to elaborate). The Wild lost Monday and Wednesday so we should be equally rested.
Probable Lines: Dunno. With Gabby unlikely, Avery and Higgins hurting, Dubi in a productivity free fall, and Torts mad at everybody I don't know who he'll send out in what combinations.

On Defense: As usual: Rookies Del Zotto and Gilroy play with the overpriced vets Redden and Rozsival. Staal and Girardi play together.
In Goal: I thought we'd see Valiquette against the Islanders. Maybe we'll see him here. But something tells me we'll see Hank every night until we WIN A FREAKING HOCKEY GAME AGAIN. Sorry – lost it for a second. HOW COULD WE LOSE TO THE FRIGGIN' ISLANDERS? SOMEONE - PLEASE - EXPLAIN THAT TO ME.
Sorry. Lost it again. Where were we?
Dave Puck Predicts: My guess – No Gabs. Maybe no Avery. And if Higgins is out of the lineup we'll uh... actually that would be fine.

But hope springs eternal in my Ranger heart. Rangers will win 3-1. And the sun will rise again.

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