Tuesday, November 3, 2009

GameNight: Tuesday – Rangers Can Go Canuck Themselves

Opening Remarks: The Rangers one game winning streak is on the line tonight as we take on a hockey club that traditionally kicks the crap out of us. Vancouver has beaten us in 8 of the last 9 meetings.

They've scored 11 goals on Lundqvist in 2 games. Last year Hank was actually benched against the Canucks after giving up 5 goals in just 17 shots.

But then again – this is not last year's Rangers. And I'll bet Hank has been thinking for a year about playing these guys again. So this is our chance to Canuck ourselves out of this bad streak and start playing them much better than we have.

Okay – on with the Preview:

Who The Hell Are We Playing? The Vancouver Canucks are 7th place in the Western Conference, one point above three other teams. They're 8-7. They will be missing their star goalie – Roberto Luongo – who has been out with a rib fracture.
Primary Skaters: The Canucks are led by Centers Henrik Sedin 16 points (6 G, 10 A) and Ryan Kesler (5 G, 8 A). Right winger Michael Samuelsson has 6 goals and 6 assists.
In Net: As mentioned, their star, Loungo has cracked ribs and will not play. But his replacement Andrew Raycroft has a 1.66 GAA and an impressive .932 save percentage after appearing in 5 games. Our own Hank is coming off his 15th career shutout and will probably start again (since Tortorella seems to have forgotten Stevie V is on the roster). Lundqvist has a 2.48 GAA and a .920 save percentage in 14 games.

Scoring & Defense: The Canucks score 2.8 goals a game. We're scoring 3.3. The Canucks let up nearly as much as they score – 2.7 a game. Our defense, fresh off the shutout, is averaging 2.6 goals against for the season – which is just about what we were averaging last year – with Tom Renny's defense-first emphasis.
Special Effects: Vancouver is better than we are on the Powerplay. They are 4th best in the league, hitting on 26.6% of all attempts. We're 7th with a 24.1% scoring rate. On the PK we're 4th in the league at 87%. The Canucks are 22nd overall at 77.6%.

Scheduling Conflicts: Vancouver played Thursday, Friday and Sunday – winning 2 of 3 and most recently beating Colorado 3-0. We played Friday and Sunday. So we'll be just about equally tired.

Probable Lines: I actually have something for you today. Lisin's foot is so sore from blocking a shot on Sunday that he couldn't lace up his skate yesterday. So he likely sits and falls off the first line. And in a very classy move, John Tortorella is putting in the unlucky Christopher Higgins up to the first line in an effort to jump start him.
Said Tortorella:

“You can complain about production all you want, but we’ve got to try and help guys. If Higgy continues to do some other things, he’ll get more ice time.”

The second line looks to be Avery, Dubinsky and Callahan

And the third line shakes out to Kotalik with Captain Chris Drury and Rookie Dane Byers.

So 4th line would probably be Brashear (if he plays) Anisimov and Boyle.

On Defense: same old same old.
In Goal: I think Hank wants these guys.
Dave Puck Predicts: I've got this weird feeling that Tortorella knows exactly what he's doing. He makes in-season adjustments to fit the situation. In Boston, he finally modified the go-go-go system to play a little more defense. I'm guessing the Rangers will do another good job of helping Hank, but will get their offense going too.

And here's my bold prediction: Higgins will score an actual goal and the Rangers will win 4-1

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