Where We Are: It seems like it was only hours ago that I was watching the Rangers 3-1 win over the Ducks on a snowy VHS record of the game. Oh wait, it was. No time to rest on the laurels of an actual regulation win ...
Where They Are: They lost goaltender Erik Ersberg to a groin injury in their last game, an impressive 3-2 shootout loss to the mighty San Jose Sharks. It is a good thing for the Rangers as the young Swede has been pretty damn good. In his place will be former Ranger Jason Labarbara, who has failed at most every chance to secure the starting goaltender position. But stepping back for a second, they took the Sharks to a shootout! The team many thought would be the worst of the West is actually above .500 (13-12-5) and have just one regulation loss in their last six games.
Who To Watch For: Where the Rangers pretended to rebuild through youth, Los Angeles really did it so there is a LOT of good, young players. There is the older kids - skillful Anze Kopitar and the rough and tumble captain Dustin Brown - and then there is the younger kids - Calder candidate Drew Doughty, the surprising Oscar Moller and the recently recalled Teddy Purcell (who has three points in three games since he was recalled last week). L.A. also got the biggest steal of the season in defenseman Kyle Quincey, who was left out in the numbers game in Detroit and picked off of the waiver wire by the Kings.
What To Watch For: Keep an eye on Derek Armstrong. The longtime Ranger farmhand has been their Blair Betts working in the trenches and popping up with big goals. Where we have the enigmatic Nik Zherdev, they have Alex Frolov but Frolov seems to be growing into a more consistent offensive threat and can make the Ranger defense look foolish if they aren't careful.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: While I was a little saddened not to see George Parros' mustache get rearranged by Colton Orr, if Orr doesn't battle Raitis Ivanans tonight I won't lose any sleep. The guy is a monster - in size, not skill - so unless the game play dictates it, there is no reason for Colt to lower himself to goondom.
Also Check Out: The Battle of California, Life in Hockeywood, A Queen Among Kings and the MSM Inside the Kings.
As always, I recommend people check out Sam Weinman's Ranger Report for up-to-the-minute updates on our boys and the latest news on Sundin, who may or may not admit he will be a Ranger on Thursday (damn, I had Friday night in the pool).