Thursday, March 4, 2010

News Flash - Rangers do (almost) nothing at the trade deadline - face Crosby tonight

If you take one last look at Miika Wiikman on Wikipedia – you will see that the Rangers traded him yesterday to Phoenix for a 35 year old defenseman (and former forward – like Gilroy) named Anders Eriksson. This was certainly not the blockbuster we were expecting – or dreading. Eriksson will be assigned to Hartford. Which makes me wonder why we did this in the first place. Eriksson was a Red Wing in 1995, a Springfield Falcon in 2005 and on Calgary last year

Hmmm. (This is the sound of me wondering why Sather made this trade. It's like a shopaholic who can't leave any store without buying something)

Anyway – our 3 game winning streak (without Gaborik) is on the line as Rangers take the ice again tonight.

Who The Hell Are We Playing? It is the World Champion Pittsburgh Penguins featuring gold medal winner Sidney Crosby – and a team we love to hate. They are in 4th place in the East, 14 points behind the Capitals. They are 5-2-3 in their last 10.

Primary Skaters: Well, Sid, for one. 42 goals. 37 assists. Which adds up to a mighty … +9. That’s one better than Vinnie Prospal!

Evgeni Malkin has 45 assists. (And I was stunned - by the way - that Malkin and Ovechkin together in the Olympics didn't do better than they did for team Russia)

Jordan Staal has a plus-minus of +16.

In Net: That flurry of activity himself: Marc-Andre Fleury with a .908 save percentage.

Scoring & Defense: Those Penguins have scored 198 goals already to our 165. But while we let up 170, they have given up 181.

Special Effects: The Penguin Powerplay clicks at 16.7%. We are better at 18%. The aquatic fish kill penalties at an 83.5% rate while we are higher at 84.8%

Scheduling Conflicts: We played and won on Tuesday. They did too. Like us – their best players are still hot from the Olympics.

Probable Lines: Gaborik is still hurt. Of course if this were the Olympics – and this was a game for Slovakia – a team that does not play him $7 million a year like we do – Gabby probably would suit up and play. But instead he rests and hopes his lower body recovers. So do we.

We’re guessing the lines will be:

Prospal - Christensen - Callahan (if Cally can keep pretending he's Gaborik - like he did with 2 goals Tuesday - that would be a good thing)

Drury - Jokinen - Dubinsky (three Centers on one line)

Avery - Anisimov - Lisin (he cleared waivers and is apparently still on the team. Avery is playing the elder statesman and traffic cop on this line - not the way I'm used to thinking about him)

Prust -Boyle-Shelley (the Punch Line - Prust never sleeps)

On Defense: We will see if Del Zotto - who has been out since Malkin's skate cut his chest - will be back tonight to face Malkin again. If not - Potter doesn't have Delzy' offense - but is a better defender - something defensemen also need to be good at. Just check out their plus-minus stats if you don't agree.

In Goal: We want to see Auld in there soon - but maybe you don't make his first start against the Stanley Cup champs. So - probably Hank - and that's probably good.

Dave Puck predicts: a hockey game. Can we beat the Penguins twice in a row and won our 4th straight without Marian Gaborik? I hope so - but I can't say I'm expecting it. So no prediction tonight.


Where we stand: 9th place. Tied with Boston in points - but they have 2 games at hand.

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