We are just hours before the puck drops on the second round of the playoffs for the Rangers. There is a few things to keep in mind:
*The Pens will throw everything they have at Hank, damn the consequences. They are young, they make mistakes and the Blueshirts have to take advantage of them. They also skate just as hard and maybe even faster so the Rangers can't let it devolve into a track meet.
*Jarkko Ruutu is a dirtier player than Sean so the Rangers have to be careful. For everything that has been accused of our fair Avery, he doesn't actually try to hurt people. Jarkko does. He throws elbows, slew foots, and makes illegal checks while headhunting. And he has a prior history with Jagr so watch out. Don't play down to his level and don't retaliate. If you have to cry to the refs, then so be it, because you know sure as hell Cindy would do the same thing.
*Colton Orr is on purely as a counter to Georges Laraque, but he isn't nearly as good. Rein Orr in because he is going out there with something to prove and that is a dangerous thing for an enforcer.
*Gary Roberts, for all of his curmudgeonly ranting, isn't playing. He can growl and scowl all he likes as he sits this one out with injury. And when he plays later in the series, it really won't matter because he hasn't been an important factor in a game since he left the Flames back in the mid-90's ...
*Like it or not, Christian Backman is playing. He claimed that he was "trying to do too much" when he first came to the Rangers and thus took all of those penalties. Renney has to reinforce simplicity of game to him. Don't let him be Tom Poti. Man do I hate Tom Poti.
*Head over to the New York Times Slap Shot blog and you can check out my latest Hockey Night in Blogdom Partisan Preview. I attack the Pens fans a little bit, perhaps unfairly, but the facts hold that they had a average attendance the year before the lockout of under 12,000 people. That's even worse than the Islanders; how sad.
*The bandwagon fans that show up tonight will be a loud, obnoxious, booing 'white out' and the Pensblog has kicked into high gear with their Photoshop fun. What better way to stick it in all of their faces than to win? Let's Go Rangers!!!!!!!!