*The biggest applause in the Garden will go to poster boy Henrik Lundqvist but the ovation for Chris Drury will come close. Say what you want about Drury's suitability for the Rangers' C, he is still a local boy who's done good. Most everyone in the building went nuts for Jaromir Jagr when he got the captaincy (I didn't) and Jagr never won a Little League World Series for the U.S. of A.
*After the early festivities, Chicago could very well crash the party. They are young, they are fast and they work hard - three qualities that are very, very dangerous. Just look at what happened to the Red Wings tonight; Detroit played sloppy and Toronto took advantage to win in a huge upset, even for a regular season game.
*Also, what really did it for the Leafs was the play of their netminder. Vesa Toskala was stellar and the Rangers will need Henrik Lundqvist to play like the prince rather than the pauper.
*A big reason for that is the play of Jonathan Toews. There is much hype around Patrick Kane - and deservingly so - but Toews has that certain ability to break through and do something amazing every shift. I mean, just look at this.
*Nik Zherdev is capable of playing like that but he will get a harsh welcome by the end of the game if he doesn't get involved in the offense quickly. I think he is best off as a playmaker, but the media hype has painted him as the goal scoring replacement to Jagr so the fair-weather fans will call for his head unless he buries one.
*Speaking of harsh welcomes, Dmitri
*On the other side of the ice, the Hawks defense is quite good. Even with James Wisniewski out, they are a dangerous bunch who can move the puck and contribute to the offense. And you can't forget that they added Soupy Campbell, who pulled a Savard-ian spin last season. At the same time they may be a suspect bunch on their own end of the ice. The Blueshirts owned Campbell last year: he was -6 with just one assist in three games with Buffalo.
*Don't expect a big tussle in home game No. 1. David Koci is gone and former Flyer idiot Ben Eager is suspended already, so Chicago's biggest battler is Adam Burish. Burish isn't an instigator so unless a Ranger plays like Ryan Hollweg used to - late hits and cheap shots - I don't see Burish throwing down the gloves.
I do see it being a great atmosphere and let's hope for a win so we can keep this nice start going. The Rangers can't let the Hawks come in and start pushing them around, this is the time that the Blueshirts will have to make the statement that the Garden is home and no one can come in and steal a win. Because, as a friend mentioned to me this afternoon, every point ends up being quite meaningful come April so let's grab as many as we can early. Let's Go Rangers!