Wednesday, December 23, 2009

A 3 game winning streak AND a 5 game losing streak? At the Same Time?

How can you have a winning streak and a losing streak at the same time? If you're the New York Rangers, that's how.

The Rangers have won three straight games. But they've all been on the road. Meanwhile, on home ice we've lost 5 straight, stretching back a month to Thanksgiving.

These two streaks have highlighted what's right and wrong with our season. On the road this year we're 10-7-2, and every other team in the East with a winning road record is in the top 8 (and above that all-important playoff Line-O-Death). So the Ranger's road record is pretty good.

But our problem has been at home, where we are 7-9-1, including those last 5 loses. That is the worst home record in the East. Even lowly Carolina is better at home at 8-8-2, thanks in part to Monday night's 3-1 loss to the Rangers.

So tonight our 3 game winning streak and our 5 game home losing streak collide head on. Something has to give. Can Tortorella get the Home Rangers to play as well as the Road Rangers? If we do that – we'll be a playoff team. And that could start tonight.

Who The Hell Are We Playing? The Florida Panthers (16-15-7) will be in town tonight to see what some real Holiday season snow looks like and to take on the New York Rangers. The Panthers are 5-3-2 in their last 10 and have a 1 game winning streak. The last time we faced them, Florida is the perfect team to be playing right now – because they are one notch above us in the standings: in 8th place with 39 points to our 37, even though the Panthers have played two more games than we have. A regulation win tonight will put our Rangers back into the playoff picture – and what would be a better Christmas present than that?

Primary Skaters: Four Florida Centers lead the team in goals, topped by Stephen Weiss' l8 and Nathan Horton's 13. Reinprecht and Frolok have 11 each. You know, the Ranger's 2nd best scorer is nowhere near 11 goals. Horton's 24 assists is the Panther's best.

In Net: The top man is Tomas Vokoun with a 2.57 GAA and a .924 save percentage in 29 appearances.

Scoring & Defense: The Panthers score 2.92 goals per game to our 2.75. But they let up 3.21 goals per game to our improving 2.83.

Special Effects: We dominate both ends. Our Penalty Kill works 85% of the time to Florida's 79%. And our Powerplay scores 22.1% to the Panther's 17.5%.

Scheduling Conflicts: We played and won Monday. So did Florida. So, we're equally rested – but the Florida players may have spent some extra time Christmas shopping in New York.

Probable Lines: Don't know exactly – but Dubi, Gabby, and Vinnie seem to be our first line. At least for now.

On The Blue Line: Glad to have Gilroy back. Redden... not so much. And I think Bobby Sanguinetti was just here to bolster his reputation for a possible trade that didn't happen.

Fronting the Twine: I'm still angry and a little shocked that the Rangers did not start backup Goaltender Chad Johnson on Monday. I understand that Henrik Lundqvist is hot right now and says that he wants to play as often as he can. But we need to protect out Franchise player from himself and we need to see what we've got in Chad. Get him out there.

But we won't. It will be Hank. Again.

Dave Puck Predicts: We win 4-2. The winning streak beats the losing streak.

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