Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rangers vs Sabres Pregame Thoughts: Star Gaborik Returns 11/11/2010

Rangers (7-7-1) vs Buffalo (5-9-2)
Key Opposing Player: Derek Roy (8-9-17)

Staal - Girardi
Del Zotto - Eminger


(As of this moment the lineups are not official in terms of who is playing with Gaborik so that is obviously my speculation along with the fact that I would play Gaborik as the 2nd line for a few games to get him back into it)

Reinforcements are on the way for the Rangers tonight in trying to end their two game losing streak and improve on their 2-5-1 home record as Marian Gaborik returns to the lineup after missing 12 straight games.  There is likely to be some rust in his game, but he seems very excited as he basically gets to start his season over and his sheer presence will make things easier for a lot of other players on the club even if they never touch the ice at the same time as him.  One of the keys for the Rangers though will be treat the game as if he still is not in the lineup.  What I mean is when you have a superstar out the other players feel the urgency to raise their individual and collective games and in this stretch certain players like Dubinsky and Boyle in particular did that, but what cannot happen is they fall into a lull thinking the star is back and will now carry the team.  If the Rangers play the way they showed they can without Gaborik and add his skill into the lineup the results overall should improve. 

With any good news for the Rangers seems to always come some bad and tonight that is that Michal Rozsival will be out of the lineup for at least a week starting with this game.  The void on the blueline from his loss is not small and I discussed that here this morning.  The defense which at various times so far has underperformed even at full strength will have to rally to fill the gaps in much the way the forwards did, at least initially, to the loss of Gaborik.  The obvious burden falls most heavily on Staal and Girardi who will be reunited as a pair for the first time consistently this season during Rozsival’s absence.  Other’s with opportunities to show their worth to the club obviously include Steve Eminger who is being given the first shot at expanding his role and Matt Gilroy who will get back in the lineup as a result of the injury.

The opposition, Buffalo Sabres, have struggled mightily out of the gate and have been one of the bigger disappointments in the early season.  Having said that, the Sabres come in having won two straight, including a 5-4 shoot out victory versus New Jersey last night, and the talent on the Sabres is still very dangerous.  The leader of the Sabres offense is without question Derek Roy who while diminutive in stature plays a large and skillful game that if not in Buffalo would have him getting much more recognition nationally for his talent.  Another key offensive player for the Sabres will be rookie Tyler Ennis.  On defense Tyler Myers, last season’s Calder winner, got off to an awful start to the season, but seems to be righting the ship, especially last night where he played his best game of the year with 1G, 2A and a +3 rating.  Ryan Miller is questionable for the Sabres and if he cannot go Jhonas Enroth who started last night against NJ is the likely netminder.

Prediction: Anisimov, Stepan, Avery score; Rangers win 3-2