Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Peepin' Foes: Vancouver Canucks
Two of the best goaltenders, probably the two best goaltenders in the NHL will stare at each other across the Garden ice tonight as Captain Roberto Luongo leads the Vancouver Canucks against King Henrik Lundqvist's New York Rangers. Seeing as a King is better than a captain, we should be in good shape ...
Where We Are: The Rangers have won three straight games including back-to-back shootouts. Monday's was a boring affair that saw more power play woes and more late heroics - and, of course, more stellar goaltending. Nik Zherdev and Aaron Voros were chastised for lack of effort, while Colton Orr, Fred Sjostrom and Nigel Dawes were rewarded for their play.
Where They Are: Vancouver has lost two shootouts in their last three games and are coming off of the second one - a 2-1 loss to the Islanders. (What is it with the Rangers picking up their trash?) The Canucks are 10-6-2 and trail the Wild by one point in the Northwest (but Minnesota has two games in hand).
Who To Watch For: Pavol Demitra returned from a rib injury and collected four points in his last two games - if he wasn't so fragile, he would be a top player in the league. The Nucks also have the creepy identical Sedin twins, the speedy Mason Raymond and the resurgent Kyle Wellwood. I always liked Wellwood in Toronto but the Leafs let him go and all he has done for Vancouver is score seven goals in 13 games. Luckily they are without defenseman Kevin Bieksa, who broke his foot, and they will have a tired Alex Edler, who went out in the storm last week to start his car without his jacket on and missed several games with the flu.
What To Watch For: The Vancouver line of Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler and rookie Jannik Hansen plays with an edge and can get creative at times. They will certainly press the action and keep the inadequate Ranger D on their heels. At the same time, they will run into Hank and that should be that. The Sedin twins may beat him for one or two but, with Callahan playing the Burrows role for the Rangers, the Blueshirts should be able to cause enough chaos in front of Luongo to tame the former Panther.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: The Ranger power play do something, anything good. A standout performance from former Canuck captain Markus Naslund (preferably on the aforementioned power play). Michal Rozsival remember how to play defense and not get booed the entire night. A heavyweight bout between Colt and Darcy Hordichuk and a middleweight between Pyatt or Burrows and Voros. Voros had three fights with Canucks last year but all three opponents are no longer on the team.
Also Check Out: Waiting For Stanley and Canucks and Beyond.
As always, I recommend people check out Sam Weinman's Ranger Report for up-to-the-minute updates on our boys. Sam really is the best of the beat guys covering the Blueshirts and today he took a deserving look at the relationship between Travis Roy and Chris Drury. Thanksgiving may be a week away but if Roy's story doesn't make you appreciate all you have, I don't know what will.