Saturday, February 23, 2008

Rangers look to rebound against Buffalo

The last time the Rangers played Buffalo, they chased Ryan Miller in the first period. Here's to hoping they can do that again tonight when the Chris Drury and the rest of the Rangers return to Buffalo.

This will be Drury's first time in Buffalo since he jumped ship to the Rangers over the summer. It will be interesting to see how the Buffalo fans react to him. I'm going to put money on him getting more jeers than cheers, even though he was a fantastic player for them.

Buffalo will be a little shorthanded tonight, as Thomas Vanek, Derek Roy, Jochen Hecht and Paul Gaustad all missed practice with illnesses and injuries. Should be interesting to see which ones dress and which ones don't. Whoever dresses may not be at 100%, which the Rangers should try to exploit as much as possible as well.

Henrik Lundqvist is back in net tonight, but might be watching Stephen Valiquette from the bench tomorrow, which seems to make sense. Tom Renney wouldn't commit to it, but I'd go for it. Valley has been good enough to earn a few more starts down the stretch.

One thing that is for sure is the Petr Prucha is out tonight and most likely tomorrow as well. He has been subjected to little contact over the past week and with Ryan Callahan filling in nicely, Renney doesn't have to rush him back into the lineup. Look for Marek Malik to get the start on defense as well, with Jason Strudwick the most likely to end up in the press box. Should the Rangers have suitors for him at the deadline, Malik has to be showcased. Strudwick isn't going anywhere, and could use a couple of games off.

Speaking of deadline, this Tuesday is coming fast. Whether the Rangers make a move or not could be contingent on this weekend's games. Two wins could ease the souls in charge of making moves (Glen Sather) but two wins may cause a rash slew of moves. Win or lose, the main consensus seems to be that the Rangers need a power play quarterback (Dan Boyle) and/or a big physical blueliner (Nick Boynton). I can't say I disagree with either of those options. We don't need offense as much as defense, so we should concentrate on that. Unless we can snag Marion Hossa for Marcel Hossa (even swap, no?), there's no use even exploring a deal to get him. Montreal seems to have an upper hand on landing him, and I'd rather not part with all the youth and picks it would take to pick him up for three months. Boyle will be expensive, but not overwhelming, Boynton would probably cost us someone in the system, but maybe Don Maloney will give us a break. Please, no Martin Ruchinsky. I'm so tired of him not scoring for us. I like him not scoring for the Blues.

I was able to catch the third period of Devils v. Islanders this afternoon. Spirited third period by the Devils, which led to a 4-2 win. Rick DiPietro looked foolish on the third goal, but there was nothing that could have been done on his part to prevent the fourth. Bruno Gervais blew his coverage and left Brian Gianta with free reign of the crease.

Enjoy the game tonight. I'm heading out now to cover a women's hockey game here for the newspaper, so I'll have to record the game. I'll watch it when I get home around 10 and weigh in tomorrow.

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