Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New York Rangers Week Ahead: Any Danger Ahead?

The New York Rangers have three games on their schedule this week: Wednesday vs Atl; Friday vs Carolina and Saturday at Toronto.  Coming off a week in which they went 3-1 and have won 3 in a row the team and fans are brimming with confidence.  The question becomes how real the threat each of these opponents bring to the Rangers is.  The answer for me is very real and the Ranger players better not become satisfied or complacent based on their recent success.

Wednesday 10/27 vs Atlanta
In Atlanta you have an opponent who was 3-2 before a recent 3 game losing streak has set them back to 3-4-1.  The offense in Atlanta can be potent and is lead right now by Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd up front while Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom are contributing from the blue-line.  They have other offensive weapons in Bergfors, Peverley, Little and Antropov.  Antropov has had a very slow start to the year, but one can assume he will still be looking to stick it to the Rangers when he comes in.  A pleasant surprise for Atlanta has been Anthony Stewart (Chris Stewart of Colorado’s brother) with his 4G including a hat-trick so far.  The biggest question with Atlanta is always defense and goaltending.  Injuries to Zach Bogosian and Freddy Meyer have hurt Atlanta as neither will play vs New York tomorrow.  In goal Chris Mason has been either very good or awful so far this year, and awful has won out more times than very good, but he is a very capable goalie who can shut down an offense when he is on his game.
Friday 10/29 vs. Carolina
No team has been abused by the schedule makers more than the Carolina Hurricanes to this point in the year.  They open in Finalnd vs Minnesota for two games and get rewarded for that by playing in Ottawa and then having to take a trip to the West Coast for Vancouver, SJ, LA and PHX.  They will not play their home opener until Wednesday night against the Capitals and all that being considered a 4-3 record has to be seen as a very positive sign for the club.  They have a healthy Cam Ward and Eric Staal from the start of the year this time around to go with Anton Babchuk having come back from the KHL, rookie Jeff Skinner as key changes from last season.  Cam Ward is as important to the Carolina team as Henrik Lundqivst is to us and when he is on his game he is as good as any goalie in the league.
Saturday 10/30 at Toronto
We have already seen how the Maple Leafs can play twice this year as they will rely on solid goaltending, a very good defensive core and their top six forwards to do the scoring.  In one game we were able to shut down the Kessel line and won, in the other we weren’t and lost.  In games against Toronto on most nights it will be as cut and dry as that.
Overall Thoughts
The Rangers are good enough to keep the winning streak going through the entire week, but that will depend on if the Rangers continue to play the same style of hockey they played the final three games of last week.  I will be watching all week to see if the Rangers continue to work as hard, play as a team, fore-check, block shots as they have lately.  The way I look at it the good teams never adjust their game to the opponent, just focus on executing their system and imposing that on the opponent.  If the Rangers have truly developed a system and want to be a good team they will play with this mentality.
Keys to Each Game:
  • With a depleted D core it will be key to use the fore-check and cycle against Atlanta to wear down the guys they are forced to play and should create added chances for the lower lines in our lineup.
  • Against Carolina faceoffs will be a very interesting thing to watch as they have struggled mightily on draws so far this year with only Jussi Jokinen being over 50%
  • Against Toronto I will go with blocked shots to see if the team can do anything resembling the tremendous 30 blocks they had last week in Toronto.  I will also be intrigued to see if the Rangers go with Biron again against Toronto especially considering it will be a back-to-back game.

No comments:

Post a Comment