Friday, March 12, 2010

Torts Torqued at Avery?

What happened with Sean Avery? He was practicing on the 2nd line with Jokinen. And them - kaboom - he's demoted to line four. I think Tortorella might want to bench almost everyone - but he's got to send some guys out there.

We know what Sean can be at his best - a magnificent pest - drawing penalties - distracting opponents - drawing attention - making opposing goalies cry on the ice - making the NHL change the rules for him. But Tortorella is not getting Sean's best. Is he getting anyone's best this year? And if not - isn't that the coaches job?

So here we are. Another rough day in Ranger-ville. Our team - floundering. Our season - fading away. You know what's happening. You don't need me to tell you we've lost 4 straight games and we're in 9rth place and falling apart. Our franchise goalie is losing his greatness. Our goal scorer is not scoring goals. Our coach is looking more and more like he's losing his team. Our GM is looking more and more confused.

So it all turns to tonight's game with the Atlanta Thrashers. For once we are not playing a top 4 team in the East - we just played them all and lost them all.

I've read a few sentiments out there saying it would be better in the long run if we keep losing. That we need a new GM and a new coach and that losing is the fastest way to get there.

Well - you can think what you want - but I can't root against my team. Those are our guys out there - and as long as at least some of them are trying while they wear the sweater - I will cheer and hope for them.

And in my head I am thinking that Gaborik has been hurt - and when he's 100 percent and we have Jokinen going too - we can score goals. We really haven't had a healthy Gabs since the Jokinen trade.

Anyway - tonight's game doesn’t make or break our season - but it sure feels that way. We have 15 games. Those 15 games will determine if we make the playoffs again or miss them.

And it starts tonight.

Who The Hell Are We Playing? Atlanta Thrashers. They are a little like us. They're on a 4 game losing streak and their season is starting to unravel. We know exactly how that feels.

Primary Skaters: Their top goal scorer for the season is now a Devil. Next up with 30 goals is Right Winger Maxim Afinogenov. And leaning the team with 38 assists is our old friend Center Nik Antropov. Nik also dominates the team with a plus-minus of +18.

In Net: They have Hedberg with a 2.63 and a .914 save percentage – and also Ondrej Pavelec with a 3.47 GAA and a .901 save percentage. Both have appeared in about the same number of games.

Scoring & Defense: For all our complaints - Tortorella has improved the Ranger scoring this year over last year. We’re scoring 2.58 goals per game. The Thrashers acre scoring 2.97 per game – of course – those are mostly “with Kovalchuk” numbers. On defense we only let up 2.76 per game while Atlanta lets us 3.23.

Special Effects: Our PP is 18.5% and there is 16.5%. Our PK is 83.9% and there is 80.7%. So that’s in our favor.

Scheduling Conflicts: We played and lost Wednesday. They played and lost yesterday, 2-1, to the Panthers. So they will be more tired. But they’ll also be at home.

Probable Lines: There are no probable lines. Torts keeps shuffling like an obsessive compulsive Vegas card dealer. But I'd like to keep Gaborik and Jokinen together for a while.

On Defense: You know. Those six guys. The overpaid vet. And the other overpaid vet. The pretty good one. The other pretty good one. The rookie everybody loves who is -20. The rookie no one thinks about who is +3.

In Goal: I'd vote Auld. But that's just me. He looks like he wants to be here. They guy had a special helmet made honoring past Ranger goalies. You have to love that.

Dave Puck predicts: Just win, baby, and all is forgiven. But then, that's more of a request than a prediction...

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