Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Rangers Week Ahead Starting 11-8-2010

With all the news that came out yesterday and the traffic that came with it I decided to hold back the look at the Rangers week ahead until this morning.  For those who haven’t seen it before this is just an overview of the upcoming opponents the Rangers have on the schedule. 

This week the Rangers will be at home for all three including Tuesday against Washington, Thursday against Buffalo and Sunday against Tom Renney’s Edmonton Oilers.  The Rangers are coming off a week in which they alternated wins and losses and only had one real good outing in my opinion.  They will look to right the ship both in terms of getting back on the winning track and being better at home this week.  At first glance the game vs Washington is obviously the toughest with the other two seeming very winnable, but as we have seen with the Rangers they love nothing more than to make a winnable game difficult.

Tuesday 11/9 vs Washington (10-4)*
Once again the Capitals are a lot of “experts” picks to make a deep run from the Eastern Conference in a quest to finally win a Cup.  They certainly have the names in Ovechkin, Green, Backstrom, Semin to be a threat, but I want to point out a few names Fleischmann, Laich, Carlson because they are the guys that make this team run without the hoopla.  The question with Washington always comes down the goaltending but Michal Neuvirth has played very well in the early going with the injury to Varlamov to the point where I would leave the 22 year old Czech goalie in the job even when Varlamov comes back healthy.  The Ranger defense had better be ready when this high powered offense rolls into the Garden

Thursday 11/11 vs Buffalo (4-9-2)*
The Rangers played the Sabres once in their opener and beat the Sabres pretty handily at that.  At the time the win looked like a big deal because of how well the Sabres played last season but not so much now that the Sabres are being beaten by lots of other teams.  Injuries and less than normal Ryan Miller goaltending have certainly played a roll in the early season struggles.  On the injury front Jason Pominville is finally back from his concussion and Ryan Miller has a chance to be back in time for the Rangers, though unlikely.  On offense the Sabres are being carried by Derek Roy who for my money is one of the most underrated players in the league.  Other threats include Pominville, Connolly, Vanek, Ennis, along with Jordan Leopold and reigning Calder winner Tyler Myers from the blue line.  The biggest surprise other than Miller coming back to Earth has been the struggle for Myers off his phenomenal rookie campaign.  This team has lost 5 in a row twice already this year, but talent exists so don’t take them lightly.

Sunday 11/13 vs Edmonton (4-6-2)*
The Oilers coming to town will mark the return of former Rangers coach Tom Renney and with him he will bring a lot of extremely young talent that he is attempting to mold into the return of the Oiler franchise.  Lead by number 1 pick Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle are also rookies with immense talent surrounding a core of Dustin Penner, Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner.  On the blueline the Oilers are lead by the well-traveled Ryan Whitney, Tom Gilbert, Kurtis Foster and Ladislav Smid with Nikolai Khabibulin manning the pipes.  This team will make mistakes typical of young clubs, but they also have the kind of talent that makes anyone at risk on a given night or play.

Overall Thoughts
The logical thinking coming into this week is the Rangers should be looking at winning at least two of these games conceding nothing vs the Capitals and having to go for the throat against both of what should be lesser opponents, but all three have enough talent to beat the Rangers if the Rangers don’t give their best effort and play the sound basic hockey that would make Tom Renney proud.

Keys to Each Game:
  • Against the Capitals as one would expect specialty teams will be critical as they score at a 20% clip on the PP and also have 4 SHG’s already this year. 
  • Against both Buffalo and Edmonton the Ranger powerplay could be key as Buffalo only kills at 78% and Edmonton 70%.  This could be boosted by the potential return of Gaborik in time for one or both of these games.  Also versus Edmonton faceoffs could be interesting as right now Edmonton and the Rangers are the 2nd and 3rd worst teams by percentage on draws.
*denotes records are as of games completed 11/8/2010