Saturday, October 24, 2009

Gamenight Tonight: Rangers a "blanking" mess as they face Montreal.

The Rangers hit the road tonight, "blanking" after 2 consecutive home loses.

I said "blanking" not as an obscenity - but because I'm not quite sure what the verb should be.

"Reeling"? After 2 consecutive loses? Not yet. You need at least a 3 game slide to really "reel".

"Stumbling"? Maybe closer to the mark - but really they stumbled in the past and they are not necessarily stumbling as they hit the road. You're only stumbling as you head to a road game if you're a little drunk in the airport - which may be the case for Dubinsky - but is not what we had in mind here.

So not stumbling. And not reeling. But they are getting that feeling where you start to doubt yourself and the confidence and delusions of grandeur that came with seven straight wins has faded away.

(Editor - Hey - Dave Pucks - stop with the thesaurus and do the preview already)

(Pucks - Will do, chief)

Who The Hell Are We Playing? The Montreal Canadiens - are struggling at 4-5 and currently below the playoff "line of death" despite having the former Ranger Scott Gomez on their side. The Canadiens (also called the Habs for a reason I once knew and forgot) are the premier franchise in this league but have fallen on some hard times recently - nearly missing the playoffs last year and doing even worse so far this year. In fact, their victory over the "'slanders" last night was their first non-OT win of the season.

Primary Skaters: The Habs are led by Center Tom Plekanec’s 8 points (2 G’s, 4A’s), and Mike Cammalleri’s 7 Points (2 G’s, 5 A’s). Only Brian Gionta has more than 2 goals (he’s got 4).

In Net: The Canadiens have split time between Carey Price (6 games) and Jaro Halak (4 games). Price is 2-4 with a .886 save percentage and a 3.36 goals against average. Halak has been much better with a 9.21 save percentage and an impressive 1.87 goals against average. Our own Hank, in comparison, has a .922 save percentage and a 2.42 goals against average. Let’s hope they start Price.

Scoring & Defense: The Canadiens score 2.44 goals per game this season and let up 3.22. The Rangers have been slipping in both categories this week, but still average 3.7 goals per on offense and let up only 2.6 per on Defense. So on paper it’s a 3-2 win for us.

Special Effects: Our special teams continue to rock. With a week to go in October we’ve already got 12 PP goals – and we had only 48 all of last year. The Ranger PP is 12 for 44, a 27.3% success rate. The Canadiens on the other hand, are hitting on just 16.7%, almost a Last-Year-Ranger’s pace. On the PK, we’ve killed penalties 86% of the time – while Montreal has killed just 77.1%. So we’re in the plus category here as well.

Scheduling Conflicts: We’re coming off a tough Thursday night loss at home to the Devils, while the Canadiens broke a light sweat polishing off the Islanders 4-1. So the rest factor is about even – unless the Habs get in early and go out partying Friday night.

Probable Lines: Really? You know – this was a fairly easy section to write for the past 9 games – but after the mix and match free-for-all that we saw Thursday night – I can honestly say I don’t have a clue what the line will be. I mean, Coach Tortorella said the same thing in the post game interview. He did call pairing Dubinsky and Gaborik to be “stale” – so it’s a safe bet the Dub-Warrior is off the top line and Prospal will center Gabby and somebody. But who? Avery? He’s been on every other line so far. Lisin? Kotalik?

Higgins and Callahan seem to be in some kind of free fall this season. Higgy hasn’t even scored yet and is getting more despondent by the day (in an almost Nugman-esque fashion).

So – sorry –I don’t have any probable lines for you right now – other than Gabs and Prospal on the top line and Brashear and Boyle on the bottom.

On Defense: Again – Torts has been messing with the pairings. I’m pretty sure I even spotted Gilroy and Del Zotto together out there once on Thursday. But it’s the same "Original Six" guys – and despite a couple of “bonehead plays” (Tort’s terminology) on Thursday they’re played pretty well overall.

In Goal: Unfortunately, with the ship taking on water, you gotta throw Hank out there until we can win a hockey game. Although Vali might be able to win this game – we do have the Islanders coming up. And last time Vali was a disaster – and we can’t afford another one right now.

Dave Puck Predicts: I always think we’re gonna win – that’s part of my definition of what it is to be a Ranger fan. But the Canadiens can’t play "system" like the Devils and can’t skate and shoot like the Sharks. So even though it’s the road – I think our Rangers will get 3 for Lundqvist (and maybe more) and I can’t see the Habs netting more than a pair.

No need to panic yet. But if we lose again tonight – then you can feel free to panic - just a little - in the privacy of your own home. For tonight, let's call it pre-panic readiness. Something no Ranger fan should ever be without. And if we do lose 3 in a row I can say we're reeling - which is worse than that "blanking" term I still can't come up with.

Depending on the Yankees and Nugman’s state of mind and sobriety – he may jump in for some game stuff. Or he may be gone forever - I really don't know. Otherwise I’ll give a post-game reaction and then the full recap sometime after midnight.

Oh, and our poll results are:
77% “Don’t Go Nugman, we need you.”
23% “Who’s Nugman?”

I think the 23% are just Nugs friends giving him a hard time. Nugs, if you’re out there, come home. All is forgiven.

No comments:

Post a Comment