Sunday, October 31, 2010

Look at Rangers Week Ahead

The New York Rangers have four games on their schedule this week: Monday vs Chi; Thursday at Philly; Friday at New Jersey and Sunday vs St. Louis. 

Coming off a week in which Rangers failed to build on the momentum of a 3 game win streak and instead lost the first two games, but salvaged the week with a win on Saturday and will look to get back to their win streak ways this week against a series of tough opponents even if only some of them are really playing like it right now.  There is no easy game this week and the Rangers will have to bring their A game in all of them in order to compete. 
Monday 11/1 vs Chicago (7-5-1)*
This team will look very different than the team that won the Stanley Cup last season, at least on the lower lines and in the goal, but do not mistake that for a team that is anything less than a contender.  They kept all the most important parts to their club in Toews, Kane, Keith, Seabrook, Sharp and have had the fortune of a motivated Marian Hossa to start the year.  The Rangers will not have to worry about Hossa since he is now injured but there is plenty of other stuff to worry about not the least of which is Patrick Sharp who is having a career start to the season.  I am not a big fan of Marty Turco, but he has been solid so far this season.  This will be a tough one for the Rangers.

Thursday 11/4 at Philly (6-4-1)*
Philly games are always fun for the fans no matter how either team is playing and the Flyers are up and down so far because as usual they have no real goaltender.  The offensive skill level as a whole is as deep as just about any team with Richards, Carter, Briere, Girouix, Leino and the D core is also as talented as any with Pronger, Carle, Timmonen, Coburn, Mezarajos and O’Donnell.  These are the types of games that a guy like Boogaard was signed for and let’s hope by the time it comes he will be ready to go and fight some of the “tough guys” the Flyers pretend to be.

Friday 11/5 at New Jersey (3-7-1)*
As of now the struggles in NJ are not seeming any better than when they matched up at the Garden last Sunday, but as we saw then playing one lousy period almost cost the Rangers the game as the Devils for all their dysfunctional still have some very dangerous weapons.  That said it was reported this morning that Parise was sent home from the West Coast after sustaining an undisclosed lower body injury last night so obviously will watch the situation to see if he will be back by Friday.  Story on that:

Sunday 10/7 vs St Louis (6-1-2)*
St. Louis is one of my favorite teams to watch right now because they are an example of how you can build with youth steadily and compete at the same time.  They play a tough physical style not too dissimilar to what the Rangers do when they are at their best.  They are lead by TJ Oshie, David Backes, David Perron, Patrik Berglund up front with Erik Johnson, Eric Brewer, Roman Polak, Barret Jackman and exciting rookie Alex Pietrangelo on the back end.  The Blues this offseason prioritized getting a true number 1 goaltended and went out and traded for Jaroslav Halak who has been excellent so far leading the Blues to a great start overall.
Overall Thoughts
All of these teams the Rangers are playing have strengths and weaknesses but all four should be very physical games and with 3 in four nights to end the week it might just catch up with the Rangers as it goes along.  People have said all along the November schedule is going to be brutal and this as the opening act of it certainly wont change that thinking.
Keys to Each Game:
  • Against Chicago it will be to pepper Turco with shots and stay out of the box to avoid the Chicago PP
  • Against Philly being physical and working the cycle is the only way to win
  • Against New Jersey containing Parise (if he plays) and giving a 60 minute effort this time
  • Against St. Louis winning the battle of imposing the physical will on the opponent.
*denotes records are as of games completed 10/30/2010