Home is where the heart is…again.
The Rangers have won four in a row at Madison Square Garden this month and have won a season best five straight games. It looks like they are taking this playoff race for their lives seriously. They can’t take their foot off the pedal though when the last place Ottawa Senators take the ice tonight. Like the Florida Panthers, they are a team with nothing to play for. Also like the Panthers, they can easily be a bunch of party poopers rearing to crash MSG for a win.
If the Rangers stick to the “grind it out”, workhorse, game plan they should leave New York with another a set of much needed points to better secure a playoff berth.
Henrik Lundqvist is nonchalantly easing his way into the Vezina discussion by leading the league in shutouts (10) and is in sixth place with 32 wins. (Three goaltenders ahead of him are tied for first place with 34 wins and two are tied for second with 33.) He’s in top form and seems ultra focused despite having to carry the load down the home stretch.
Here are six observations as the Rangers look to win their sixth straight:
Break time: While Lundqvist seems fit to make his 19thconsecutive start, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Coach John Tortorella opts to give Chad Johnson a go to give Lundqvist a breather.
Due for a goal: Brian Boyle took six shots on Panthers’ goaltender Thomas Vokoun on Tuesday. He was looking fresh again and created some quality opportunities with Brandon Prust.
Wake up time:Marian Gaborik could use another one of those explosive multi point games. He has four goals in his last five.
Impressive fill in:Steve Eminger has held down the fort since Marc Staal has been out with an undisclosed injury. His minutes have steadily gone up with Dan Girardi as his physical play and performance improved.
Principal’s Office: Sean Avery won’t be back in the lineup anytime soon, unless Coach John Tortorella wants to light a fire where the sun don’t shine under Wojtek Wolski or Mats Zuccarello. The Rangers didn’t take one penalty against the Panthers on Tuesday. They were rewarded for their discipline with a tightly won 1-0 match. Avery has been prone to innopportune penalties and inneffective all around play. The only one the agitator is agitating is his coach.
Underrated:Michael Sauer and Brandon Prust. Enough said. No sexy statistics, just hard work when it counts.
About the Author
Written by Margaret DeJesus
I'm a recent college graduate looking for a dream job covering hockey. I've been watching the New York Rangers since my grade school days of VHS and Gordon Bombay's "ducks fly together" speech. While studying journalism at Boston University (COM '10), I wrote for the Daily Free Press, the student newspaper. I worked two summers at the Staten Island Advance, my hometown newspaper, writing city news and features. I've also written CD reviews for Music-Reviewer.com. One of my favorite gigs was interning for hockey analyst extraordinaire Stan Fischler covering the Boston Bruins and attending all their home games in the 2009-2010 season. (Yes, including the crushing defeat against the Flyers in the Eastern Conference playoffs.)