Thursday, January 10, 2008

Rangers Need Seven

Ten games remain in this extremely important month of January for the sputtering New York Rangers. Six at home, including one on January 24th, which just happens to be "Brian Leetch Night" and is also the backside of a home and home with the Nashville Predators. I'm figuring the Blueshirts need to win seven of those games, because they absolutely could find themselves out of the playoff picture come April if they don't start to play more consistent hockey.

The Blueshirts had yesterday off, so hopefully they could clear their heads and nurse some nagging injuries before the Philadelphia Flyers come into M.S.G. tonight. Martin Straka is hurting (concussion, out until at least the weekend), ditto Sean Avery (bruise on right hand, out indefinitely), and Brendan Shanahan took a puck off the ankle in Edmonton Saturday night, but has and will continue to play.

Head Coach Tom Renney is taking a lot of flack for what some are calling his overuse of the H.B.O. line (Ryan Hollweg, Blair Betts, Colton Orr) against T.B.'s top trio, consisting of Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Vinny Prospal. The problem was that it kept Jaromir Jagr’s line off the ice when the Rangers were trailing. In defense of the coach, that H.B.O. line has played very strong in prior games against Tampa's top threesome.

Henrik Lundqvist continues to downplay the impact his father's recent brain surgery - which reportedly went well - has had on his inconsistent play. I know athletes don't like to make excuses publicly, but how could something like that not impact a player's performance?

Some good news to report: Alexei Cherapanov, the Rangers' first-round pick in 2007, picked up a bronze medal at the World Juniors when Russia beat the United States over the weekend. I wouldn't expect the tournament to draw big ratings, but I've always wished that it would be aired on t.v. somewhere.

Artem Anisimov, who plays for Hartford and was drafted by New York in 2006, also was on the Russian team.

Chris Drury-Scott Gomez-Jaromir Jagr
Nigel Dawes-Brandon Dubinsky-Brendan Shanahan (put together during 2nd)
Marcel Hossa-Greg Moore-Petr Prucha
Ryan Hollweg-Blair Betts-Colton Orr

Marc Staal-Michael Rozsival
Dan Girardi-Fedor Tyutin
Paul Mara-Jason Strudwick

Henrik Lundqvist

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