Wednesday, January 6, 2010

A New Year - A New Hope?


It's a little bit of an odd feeling for a Ranger fan this season - but there it is. A little bud of hope growing in my Blueshirt Brother's soul this morning.

And why am I feeling that hope?

Well, the Rangers got some goals last time out. Three goals in fact - from guys who aren't named Marian Gaborik. And you know, if Christensen can function and score like a first line center - that would be like a gift from the Hockey Gods.

And if Chris Higgins - who clawed us back into the lead Monday with a great move to shed a defender and a shot that popped the net - can get going as well - that would be another gift.

And if Kotalik could use that cannon shot of his for good instead of evil - that is - for scoring instead of his scary-bad plus-minus statistic - that would be good as well.

If these things happen while the Rangers keep playing team defense and if Hank plays like he's (hopefully still) capable of and if Gaborik keeps on rolling - well - it makes me have some real hope for this season.

I know this might not work out - but let me have this little island of happiness. It's a new decade. Maybe we can keep this rolling.

Who the Hell are we playing? The Dallas Stars - unofficially named for that star in the middle of the Dallas Cowboy football stadium - have to be one of the NHL's most illogical franchises. I mean - why are they playing hockey in Texas? And do you think there is one person in Dallas this week with the slightest interest in how their local hockey team is doing? No sir. They are looking at the Cowboys and their playoff game this weekend.

So Dallas skates around in the Texas heat and gets a whole lot of indifference from the locals. They are 18-13-11 this year, with 2 more points than your New York Rangers have. Out in the west that is good for 10th place.

Oh yes – and this is Sean Avery’s former team – the one that’s still paying part of his salary – the one that he was ousted from for making a high school locker room type adolescent remark to reporters – which led to his suspension – which led him back to the Rangers. I don’t really see that much of a story here – but it will be fun to watch Seanny interact with his old pals.

Primary Skaters: The three leading scorers on Dallas are all on their Left Wing: James Neal has 18 goals, Loui Eriksson has 17 and Brenden Morrow has 13. Center Brad Richards has an impressive 34 assists. And defensemen Mark Fistric leads the team at +8.

In Net: Their top guy is Marty Turco who in 30 appearances has a 2.66 GAA and a .911 save percentage. And they have let Alex Ault appear in 14 games, even though he lets up 3.05 GAA and has a .897% save percentage. There is a lesson in there for us – but we’re not learning it.

Scoring & Defense: The Stars have scored 122 goals to our 111 and have let up 131 to our 117.

Special Effects: Dallas scores 20.5% of the time on PowerPlays, while we convert an identical 20.5%. On the penalty kill they stop 79.9% while we are better at 85.5%

Scheduling Conflicts: Dallas played and lost to New Jersey 4-0 last night. We've been at rest an extra day having won 3-2 on Monday. So we're a little less tired.

Probable Lines: I don’t know for sure of course – but here are my best guesses:

Line 1: Dubinsky-Christensen-Gaborik

Line 2: Higgins-Drury-Callahan

Line 3: Avery-Anisimov-Ales Kotalik

Line 4: Brashear-Boyle-Lisin

On Defense:

Del Zotto-Rozsival

Fronting the Twine: Every night I hope the Rangers will come to their senses and start resting Henrik Lundqvist - for his own sake - and to see what kind of talent we have behind him. And every night I'm disappointed because the Rangers keep rolling Hank out there - night after night.

Dave Puck Predicts: Keep Hope Alive! Rangers will stun the world by getting 4 goals and will win 4-2.

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