For a while the focus on the schedule has been all about how grueling the sheer number of games in November was going to be and the Rangers came through that at 9-7. As brutal as all the games were I think December and a huge six game stretch will tell us as much about the Rangers and how real the team is this year as much as surviving the exhaustion of the schedule last month. There is a natural inclination to take a deep breath after getting through all of that, but any loss of focus this month and all the work will have been for nothing. You can see full thoughts on why December is so important, what it will take to consider the team legit and more here.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
The Rangers are looking to get back to their winning ways against the woeful Islanders, but this is exactly the type of game that has haunted the Rangers in the past few years. You have a team that finally ended a 14 game winless streak in their last game against the Devils and actually has points in three straight outings, but should not be a challenge to the Rangers. The problem for the Rangers is that they tend to play down to their competition though they have done a much better job fighting that this year. They are 9-2-1 against teams that are currently below .500. These are the games that the good teams win and put their mark on early. You cannot let teams that are struggling hang around and gain any measure of confidence because then they can bite you late in the game.
Lineups and predictions inside.
In the lottery type atmosphere that is John Tortorella putting lines together there was a new ping pong ball that popped up to be slotted with Marian Gaborik today and that was Sean Avery with Erik Christensen in the middle. Avery is being rewarded for his improved energy, impact and overall play the last three games with a chance to play with the highly skilled Gaborik. The combination of Avery and Gaborik is not completely new as they spent a limited amount of time together last season when that jackpot drawing was constantly going on. Avery has a skill set that can allow him to succeed with Gaborik whether it be his speed, his willingness to work in the corner and behind the net or his ability to crash the net for rebounds on Gaborik shots. A quick piece of advice for Avery would be to make sure to do something good quick or the next lotto drawing might be held by his third shift of the game.
During the preseason the Rangers looked like they were getting a steal in the Frolov move as he showed good skill and strength in him game along with some chemistry with Marian Gaborik. Fast forward two months and today’s discussion is not about Frolov contributing consistent scoring or threat as a secondary forward but now that he is on the fourth line and if he might be a candidate to be benched in the near term when the Rangers get their pieces back. Over his last nine games Frolov has one point and in two of the last three has failed to even see 10 minutes of ice time. With the improved play of Sean Avery and Erik Christensen over the past few games the other likely scratches when reinforcements (Chris Drury, Vinny Prospal) arrive back it appears that Frolov is now at the top of that press box credentials list. Let us look back and what the expectations for Frolov were and how his tenure is eerily similar to a combination of Rangers of just a year ago and wonder if instead of just being out of the lineup he should be out of the organization.
When the season started the thing that stuck out the most about the schedule was the brutal number of games the Rangers would be forced to play in November. The Rangers would play sixteen games in the course of the month but even that is a little deceiving because they really played fourteen games over just a twenty three day stretch. This scheduled included four different sets of back-to-back games all of which were then turned into three games in four nights. Overall the record in the month was a very respectable 9-7, though as John Tortorella said before the game Monday against the Penguins there is huge difference in feel between 10-6 and 9-7. So, the Rangers won November, giving them their second consecutive winning month and leaving them 14-11-1 on the season, but the question is, now what?