The Rangers return to action tonight after the All Star break. Three Blueshirts made it to Montreal, and one of them actually did well - Marc Staal. Henrik Lundqvist gave up six goals on 21 shots, Brandon Dubinsky spent a ton of time trying to set up his YoungStarteammates to no avail while Staal chipped in two goals for the sophomores in their loss. I always said he needed to be more involved in the offense ...
Where We Are: It really is hard to say as the team has been off for a week. All momentum is gone, both good and bad. These guys didn't play, they didn't practice until Monday ... this just sounds worse and worse.
Where They Are: That's the good thing - the Whalers are coming off of the same vacation. However, they had just one player at the ASG, Marc's brother Eric and he managed just one of the East's 11 goals (the second one). Granted, few of their other players deserved to make it. Rod Brind'Amour has been horrible so far this season (and is helping to kill several of my fantasy teams) and Cam Ward has been insanely streaky.
Who To Watch For: I guess Staal isn't so bad but keep an eye out for the strong Scott Walker, the slimy Sergei Samsonov and a personal fav of mine, Ray Whitney. Walker is a power forward (something we wish we had), Samsonov has an impressive tendency to pop up out of nowhere to score and Whitney is leading the Canes in scoring. He has been one of the most underrated players in the NHL for 1,023 games; he was San Jose's second pick in their first entry draft back in 1991!!
What To Watch For: I would say watch out for a slow start but the Rangers were horrible for the first 10 minutes of their game against the Ducks last week and look how that turned out ...
What We'll (Hopefully) See: The Ranger special teams remaining special, Marc beating Eric in the battle of the Staals and Stephen Valiquette to get more goal support than he did the last time he started - the 2-1 shootout loss in Buffalo back on January 9th. I was sick to my stomach that day and hopefully will escape this night without the projectile vomiting.
Also Check Out: Red and Black Hockey, Canes Country and Lord Stanley's Blog.
As always, I recommend people check out Sam Weinman's Ranger Report for up-to-the-minute updates on our boys. He scared the hell out of me yesterday by saying that Renney wasn't going to change the lineup - leaving Voros and Fritsche in - but that proved to be incorrect information. *whew*