Saturday, November 26, 2011

Game Preview: Rangers get ready for Flyers

Finally, the schedule picks up. Sure. Yesterday's 6-3 win over a disappointing Washington team was nice. Garden Faithful had to love the balance with just about everyone contributing, including rookie call up Carl Hagelin, who recorded his first NHL point- assisting on Brian Boyle's second of the season. In his NHL debut, Hagelin didn't look out of place alongside Boyle and ex-Leaf John Mitchell. Could this be another classic case of an overachiever? Stay tuned.

Today after 2, the Rangers return home to host the banged up Flyers. Despite injuries to Chris ProngerJaromir Jagr (oh well) and James van Riemsdyk, the Broad Street Bullies bring a 13-6-3 record in led by certain All-Star Claude Giroux. The orange and black are still loaded with pain in the ass Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell, Kimmo Timonen, Jakub Voracek and Calder hopeful Matt Read. In stunning news, Ilya Bryzgalov will not start for a second consecutive game with younger Russian Sergei Bobrovsky getting the call following a 3-1 home win over the Habs yesterday. Another overpaid goalie riding the pine and in Philly. Shocking. :P

If the contest spurs out of control, the Rangers don't have anyone to deal with the zany Zac Rinaldo (77 PIM). With crazy guy Andre Deveaux serving the second of a three-game suspension for elbowing Tomas Fleischmann, who thankfully was alright in Florida's 2-1 win over us on Turkey Eve, we really don't have anyone who can take on Rinaldo. That could spell doom because Rinaldo loves to run guys. Brandon Prust is just too banged up. It's a miracle he's even playing. Prusty is our ultimate warrior. I'd rather see him get some time off as he'll be important in the second half. Instead, he continues to play at less than 100 percent. Sean Avery has played well but is no match for Rinaldo. Besides, Avery's days of fighting are behind him. He's always been more of a pest anyway. Sean had a really good game Friday forechecking effectively and drawing a penalty in eight minutes.

John Tortorella plans to stick with a lineup that snapped out of a mini-slump in which it scored only two goals and lost both games. After exploding for half a dozen, who can blame him? Ruslan Fedotenko tallied twice and Artem Anismov also notched a goal as both left Brandon Dubinsky in the lonely '1' department. When will Dubi snap out of it? I know he's trying out there as I saw him working hard during yesterday's game. But he really needs to start earning that fat new paycheck. The difference between him and Ryan Callahan is two-fold as Captain Cally always busts it. In a game he had three assists, second and third efforts allowed him to get the puck to open teammates for big goals. That's why one's a leader and the other doesn't even have an 'A' despite being a key player to our chances. Dubinsky is better than this. It's time to wake up!

While the Dubi Watch continues, he's been passed on the depth chart by Derek Stepan, who more and more reminds of a young Chris Drury. D-Step just has the knack for the clutch play. He set up Marian Gaborik's team-leading 10th with a nice look away pass. The more we see the former Badger, the more it looks like he'll fulfill expectations. As long as Anisimov continues to mesh on that top line, they should remain together.

There are no changes today. Here are the lines that include a third consecutive start for Henrik Lundqvist, who despite allowing three, was on again Friday.

Anisimov-Stepan-Gaborik
Fedotenko-Richards-Callahan
Hagelin-Boyle-Mitchell
Avery-Dubinsky-Prust

McDonagh-Girardi
Del Zotto-Sauer
Woywitka-Eminger

Lundqvist
Biron

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