Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Can Rangers new-found offense Light Up the Lightning?

Life always looks better after a win. And if you are a Jet fan - you got to the chance to watch your football team beat the Chargers - while you missed the first period of the Rangers falling behind 2-0 to the Canadians. By the time you switched over to the hockey game - it was all Rangers in their stunning 6-2 come-from-behind win.

Now, with the hated Islanders on our tails after they beat the Devils 4-0, we have to turn our attention to holding on to 7th place.

Who the Hell are we playing? The Tampa Bay Lightning have that bolt on their jerseys, just like the San Diego Chargers did. And they are, of course, the team that John Tortorella won the Stanley Cup with back in 2004. They've beaten us once this year already - so figure the coach wants this one. A lot.

Tampa Bay is 19-19-10 for 48 points to our 23-19-7 for 53. But in the tightly bunched NHL East, those 5 points are the difference between 7th and 13th place.

Primary Skaters: Stamkos has 25 goals and Malone has 20. St. Louis (the player – not the team) has 41 assists. And right winger Steve Downie leads the club in plus-minus with a +6

In Net: Mike Smith is 2.97 GAA and .940% in saves in 28 games. Antero Niittymaki (great name) is 2.71 GAA and .911% saves in 22 games.

Scoring & Defense: We have 127 goals to Tampa's 125 - dumb and dumber. But we've only let up 131 to their 146.

Special Effects: Lightning 18.6% on the PP and 79.5% on the PK. We have tumbled al the way to 18.8% on the PP and still have a 86.1% on the PK.

Scheduling Conflicts: Rangers had the day off yesterday (so did I!) but the Lightning played Monday and beat the NHL's worst team, Carolina 3-2. So we're a little more rested.

Probable Lines: I don't know of course - but my guess based on rumors and recent history is this:

Line One: Christensen centers for Prospal and Gaborik. The top line did well against the Habs. Let's hope the Vinnie-Gabby chemistry is back.

Line Two: here's the real story and the best hope for Ranger-ville. Dubinsky returns to the Center position - but on the 2nd line, along with Callahan and Drury - now at wing instead of center. This is the combo that really ignited on Sunday - two goals for Cally - and one each for Dubi and Drury. If the Rangers can get 2 lines hot at once - for the first time all year - it will be very very good.

Line Three: Anisimov centers for Avery and Lisin. Avery is in the dog house with Tortorella right now after some bad penalties versus Montreal. You have two very hot tempers there - let's watch what happens.

Line Four: Who's left? Boyle and Kotalik (who both managed to be -1 in a 6-2 win on Sunday) and Voros.

On Defense: our "original six"

Fronting the Twine: I really feel that starting Chad on Saturday helped Hank win Sunday. But this time, Tortorella will want to beat the team that fired him - so he's going to use Lundqvist who is coming off one of his worst performances in a while - that also was one of his first wins in a while.

Dave Puck Predicts: Have the Rangers re-started their offense, or was Sunday an aberration? (Ed- he means a freak occurrence). The Lightning can get lit up defensively - so we have a real opportunity to keep this going. I say Rangers win 4-2
Loose Pucks:
My 11 year old - Pucks Junior - plays his first ever game in a floor hockey game tonight. I'm more nervous than he is. My advice for the little guy? Keep your feet moving - shoot the puck - and think of Sean Avery whenever you’re around the opposing goalie. And - I've promised the little guy I won't embarrass him by yelling horrible things about the opposing team. Let's hope I can live up to that.

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