Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday Senators

11 year old Dave Pucks Junior can't stand watching any more. "What's wrong with Lundqi?" He asked me on Thursday when the Thrashers scored 2 goals against us in just a 25 span of the second period.

I don't have a good answer for him. It's more than a little ironic. When we couldn't score the last two years, Hank was lights-out amazing. This year - when Gaborik and the fellows can light the lamp for him - he's started letting in more goals than he ever did before.

Of course - the playoffs are miles away and there's plenty of time to right the ship. But right now it feels like the ship is sinking.

Anyway - Saturday at 2pm (it will feel like 10am) the Rangers will get back on the hockey-horse and try again.

Who the Hell are we playing?

(I forget. Let me look at the paper.) That's right - it's the Ottawa Senators. The guys we beat 5-2 in game two of the season - our first win of the year.

The Senators are 8-6-1. They're just 3 points back of us with three games at hand - in other words - they're really ahead of us if we both keep at the same pace. Anyway kids, here's your preview:

Primary Skaters: Dan Alfredsson leads Ottawa with 19 points (6 G. 13 A). Center Mike Fisher has 14 points (7 G, 7 A).

In Net: The Senators main man is Pascal Leclaire, who sports a 2.89 GAA and .892 save percentage. And for us - Hank. We ride our best horse until he dies or we do. Lundqvist has a 2.62 GAA and a .914 save percentage. I just hope he starts looking King-like again. It used to be - get him three goals and we were home free. Can we get that guy back please?

Scoring & Defense: Ottawa scores 2.94 goals a game and lets in 3.13. Your slumping new York Rangers score 3.11 goals per contest and have let up a steadily growing 2.79.

Special Effects: The Rangers are 6th in the league on the PowerPlay, scoring 23.4% of the time. Ottawa is way down the list at 22nd, scoring just 17.3% percent of the time that have the man advantage.

On the Penalty Kill, the Rangers have fallen somewhat – to 6th, with a PK success rate of 85.1%. The Senators are in the middle, 14th best, with an 80.6% success rate. So on paper anyway – we should win the special teams battle.

Scheduling Conflicts: After a long layoff we came home Thursday night and lost. So maybe rest is overrated. Ottawa also lost Thursday night - to the Flyers. So equally tired. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Probable Lines: When things aren't going well coach Tortorella likes to mix his lines up. And Mixed Up is what we are right now especially short two Centers. Here's my best guess:

Line 1: Lisin-Prospal-Gaborik. The GAB line (for Gaborik of course). Gabs keeps scoring - God bless him. Lisin's foot continues to feel better. Prospal continues to have his epic tug of war with his coach play out on the ice.

Line 2: Higgins-Anisimov-Kotalik. The HAK line. Anisimov gets the long look centering the #2 line because there just ain't no one else. Kotalik has the 2nd most goals on this team - mostly because of that cannon he shoots with.

Line 3: Avery-Boyle-Callahan. The ABC line. And Boyle actually scored on Thursday. But where oh where is that Seanny I know and love? Has our coach stolen his soul?

Line 4: Brashear-Voros-Byers. Let's call them the PIM line - not for their initials - it stands for Penalties In Minutes - the one area this crew figures to dominate.

In Goal: Hank sat out two straight with an undisclosed lower body injury – but should be back tonight. Valiquette is looking less and less like a strong back up.

Dave Puck Predicts: I know we're short on Centers right now - but If Lundqvist plays and if Gaborik plays and if Brashear plays - we will win. And I'm saying 4-3. But then again - I always predict Ranger wins - because that's what fans do.

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