Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Tough Weekend For Broadway Blues

The Rangers got away from what had been making them a first-place team by playing sloppily over the weekend against Toronto and New Jersey. It actually began on Thursday night against Dallas, but they were bailed out by a stellar Henrik Lundqvist. The New York Rangers found themselves flatfooted quite often in all three contests turning the puck over countless times.

Perhaps it was because of the flu which has really worked through the team or because there are some key guys banged up. It's not an excuse, just a fact. During the season every NHL team gets hit with the flu bug at one point or another. The Rangers are getting hit with it at the busiest time. A time in which they are playing 10 games in 17 nights. The guys on the blueline were the most stationary from what I saw. Marek Malik was the biggest offender in that area.

So that bring us to tonight against the New York Islanders at MSG. What will happen? Well, one thing we know for sure about 2o minutes from the game starting, is that the Rangers are going to look quite different tonight.

First off, Henrik Lundqvist has the flu and is out. So that means that Kevin Weekes is between the pipes. The Rangers have recalled future all-star Al Montoya from Hartford. He was taking a helicopter to the 34th street heliport. But believe me, I was in NYC today, and he's going to have a heck of a time getting over to MSG due to all the holiday gridlock. I suggest walking...

Brendan Shanahan also has a very bad case of the flu, but plans on playing. We'll see if he plays and how effective he is. So the Blueshirts have recalled the sensational Ryan Callahan who has 19 goals and 27 points in 25 games for the Pack.

If that's not enough number-one center Michael Nylander will miss his second straight with the flu; Matt Cullen has a sprained knee and may be able to go Thursday against Florida; Malik has a groin strain and is day-to-day.

So here's what I think the lineup will look like tonight:


Malik/Rozsival (If Malik can't go, Thomas Pock has been recalled)
Aaron Ward/Tyutin

Sandis Ozolinsh and his $2.75 million dollar contract have been put on waivers, which he has cleared and has been assigned to Hartford, thus, ending his short Rangers' career.


Which I don't like. If I were coach, here's what I would do.


My thinking being that Staka has played center before in his career and he plays his best with Jagr, so I think it is foolish to split the two up which was done Sunday night. I like a tough physical player like Hollweg to ride shotgun with Jagr. Hollweg can deliver punishing checks and will be great to pin the d-men deep while Jagr and Straka are able to do their thing from the cirlces and the slot. Ryan Callahan has been awesome with the Wolf Pack, so let's give him valuable minutes to show his stuff. I'll put Prucha on the third line, but would definitely be willing to use him on the second line, if Shanny is not up to par due to the flu. Prucha looked very hesitant the other night. Meanwhile, watching Shanahan over the years, I wouldn't be surprised if the guy goes out and gets a hat trick. Ward goes to the fourth line where he belongs. I'm not sure what Head Coach Tom Renney sees in this guy. But no way does he even sniff the first line if I'm behind the bench. That fourth line that I have with Hall and Orr on the flanks can actually serve as an energy or crash line.

Time to go, since I am not behind the bench and I am actually behind a computer and the game about to start. Oh yeah, Jagr and Shanahan will be honored pre-game for both scoring 600 goals earlier in the season.

Stay Onsides!

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