The Rangers get back in action tonight at MSG where they will host the Pittsburgh Penguins at 7pm on Versus.
Where We Are: As heartwarming as two of the losses were, the fact of the matter is that the Rangers have lost four of their last five games. The power play has gone 1-17 during that span. New York played one game in the last week and in the meantime Philadelphia passed and the Devils tied them in the standings, and both still have games in hand. And while the Rangers were slacking off and celebrating the New Years, Chicago reminded us that we could have had the Winter Classic had Steinbrenner and the Yankees not been greedier than the Dolans. Things aren't all that wonderful in Ranger land at the moment.
Where They Are: Luckily for the Blueshirts, the Pens are in pretty bad shape as well. They have won one of their last six, with the most recent defeat being a 6-1 debacle at the hands of the Florida Putty Tats. Remarkably their power play, featuring two of the top offensive talents in the league is 0-for-24 over the past five games (is Perry Pearn coaching them too???). To add insult to injury, the Cole Harbour Crybaby has been doing his best to embarrass his team and the NHL.
Who To Watch For: Gentlemen, make sure you wear your cups when Crosby is around. Who knows who Cindy is going to jump this time. On a serious note, I've mentioned him before but Ruslan Fedotenko steps up his game every time he plays the Rangers and is pretty hot right now with a two game goal streak and 13 points in his last 15 games. And as much as I don't want to give that Malkin character credit, Gina is quite good. Oh, and a question for you: Ryan Whitney couldn't have lost that much talent when he had his foot surgery, could he??
What To Watch For: See which team's impotent power play kills off penalties better. See if the excitement and energy of the Ranger youth can finally rub off on the money players or, more importantly see if the Ranger youth can keep that excitement and energy level up.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: The Staal vs. Staal subplot is always fun. They won't drop gloves (I don't think) but both kids are tough as nails. Then again, Tom Renney would be foolish to use his top defender to shut down a lower-tier talent like Jordan Staal instead of someone like Malkin but at this point nothing would surprise me.
Also Check Out: Empty Netters, which is the Pittsburgh Post Gazette's stellar link-happy blog, the snarky photoshop-heavy awesomeness of The PensBlog and Greg Wyshynski's Puck Daddy disciple Sean Leahy's Going Five Hole.
And, as always, head over to Weinman's Ranger Report. Even if he has taken a whole lotta vacation time lately, the man still keeps the pulse of the Blueshirts better than anyone else.