Saturday, February 9, 2008

Valiquette in against Flyers this afternoon

My apologies on not getting a post game out on the Anaheim game. Sometimes school gets the better of you, and I was stuck doing a whole lot of nonsense for the last couple of days. Anyways, the Rangers dropped another to the Western Conference Ducks on Thursday. They came out flying, playing with a good intensity, showed some scrappiness (three fights against a team not named the Devils, Islanders or Flyers was weird to see) and overall looked like a better team for most of the game. It was the times where they didn't look like the better team that Anaheim made them pay. Henrik Lundqvist couldn't give them a big save, none of the offense could chip in an important goal, and the defense couldn't come up with a stellar defensive play.

Ryan Callahan scored the Rangers' only goal, tucking a slapshot in past J.S. Giguere in the second period. That goal tied the game at 1-1, then followed by two fights in 17 seconds and the Garden was rocking. The Rangers had all of the momentum. Then a tough penalty, a powerplay goal, a lazy pinch and a two on one goal and all of a sudden it's 3-1 Ducks. They added another in the third for the 4-1 win.

As for this afternoon, Stephen Valiquette will start in net. Vally shut out these same Flyers in his last appearance, and the Rangers seem to play a bit better when they are forced back against a wall, so this makes sense. The start has been mapped out from the beginning of the week though, so Lundqvist's not so stellar performance in the last two outings has nothing to do with today's start.

Marek Malik will be a game time decision. If I am Tom Renney, I leave Jason Strudwick in there today, just incase it gets overly physical. Malik might fight Sean Avery in practice, but correct me if I'm wrong, I don't think he's ever had a real NHL fight. He might be a little rusty as well, so maybe tomorrow against the Capitals is a better way to go. Marcel Hossa is off of the injured reserve, Greg Moore was once again demoted and Brendan Shanahan is out until next Saturday against Buffalo.

With five games left to play before the trade deadline, the Rangers need to do some real soul searching now. Are they mentally able to make a playoff push this year? They have the talent but GM Glen Sather has to do something to spark the team. Renney is getting an unfair brunt of the blame from fans and websites all over. Yeah, Sather brought in Scott Gomez and Chris Drury over the offseason, but what did he do to the defense? Nothing at all, and that is where we need a bigger upgrade. The offense is there, the defense is breaking down. There's not necessarily much he can do this trade deadline, unless something extremely unforeseen happens, so he should be looking now to stat pitching to some UFA's and thinking who can help next season. For now, we will probably be going with what we've got, minus a small transaction or two that would probably see youth go for a veteran.

I may or may not be around for the game today. Still pretty busy around here. I'll definitely catch it sometime today and then recap and preview later on.

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