Sunday, November 7, 2010

Game 14: Rangers vs St. Louis Pregame Thoughts

Rangers (7-5-1) vs St. Louis (8-1-2)

Key Opposing Player: T.J. Oshie (1-9-10)


Staal - Rozsival
Del Zotto - Girardi


The Rangers are looking to build on the win vs New Jersey at least in the result if not the way they played especially with a giant step up in competition tonight. If the Rangers play like they did against the Devils on Friday they will lose to the Blues as in my opinion this is the toughest opponent the Rangers have face so far this season. The Rangers will once again rely on production from red-hot Brandon Dubinsky but will need more contributions down the lineup both in this game and throughout the season. Good news for the Rangers as they will have Ryan Callahan back in the lineup based on all indications to this point.  The defense is going to have to be stronger in winning battles and stopping the cycle then they were against an undermanned New Jersey team. The Rangers will benefit to an extent from the fact that St. Louis played a tough game in Boston last night that ended up going all the way to a shootout so fatigue could be an issue, but that will only be the case if the Rangers play their aggressive physical style to wear them down otherwise the young Blues will have little problem with fatigue in playing back to back.

The Blues are very similar to the Rangers in terms of building through the draft and youth, though they have even less older players than the Rangers with only two players over 30 among their regulars. The young talent is plentiful lead by TJ Oshie, David Perron and Patrick Berglund up front with youngsters Erik Johnson, Alex Pietrangelo leading on defense for their young core. Surrounding that young talent is David Backes and Alex Steen to go with old man on the club Andy McDonald. On the blue line they are solid with Eric Brewer, Barret Jackman and Carlo Colaiacovo. The biggest change between last season and this other than the maturation of the youngsters one more season is the acquisition of Jaroslav Halak who carried the Canadiens during their playoff run and has been phenomenal in the early season for the Blues.

For St. Louis it is unclear if Perron will be available to go as he was laid out by Joe Thornton on Thursday night and was held out of action last night Boston.  As mentioned above Ryan Callahan will be back and the Rangers are going with Martin Biron between the pipes tonight.  My thoughts on the move to Biron tonight can be found here: Tonight's Goalie.  Will be interesting to see if the Blues counter with their backup Ty Conklin since the Rangers are playing Biron like when the Rangers played Toronto last month.  Conklin has only played once so far this season.

Prediction: Dubinsky fails to score, but Anisimov chips in with 1, Fedotenko gets 1 in a 3-2 Rangers defeat.