Ah, the battle for the ages resumes: Avery vs. Mmmmaaaarrrrtttyyy. As a fan, one gets chills thinking about the possibilities. As a realist, I don't think much will happen. Each player is under too much pressure to perform as the Devils have lost four straight and the Rangers are clinging to a playoff position. Nevertheless, Rangers-Devils, 7 p.m. Madison Square Garden. Even Versus can't screw this broadcast up, right? (Don't answer that.)
Where We Are: The Blueshirts have given no signs of being a capable playoff club. The goaltender lets in soft goals, the defense is porous and the goal scorers can't score when it counts. The power play is atrocious and the head coach shockingly seems to believe his team can play their way out of this slump. The last head coach thought that too and look where that got him.
Where They Are: Fatso came out flying from his injury to break St. Patrick's record and since then hasn't been all that great. He couldn't come up with the big saves in Jersey's last two games and has lost four straight. Still, the Devils did so well thanks to Scott Clemmensen that they maintain first in the Atlantic.
Who To Watch For: The usual suspects. Zach Parise, Hepatitis Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner are always dangerous against the Rangers. Langenbrunner, in fact, is one of the few players on either team who seems to really play with a chip on his shoulder - he really doesn't like the Rangers and I can respect that. Travis Zajac has been stellar this season setting up and clearing room for Parise.
What To Watch For: Does Avery vs. Mmmmaaaarrrtttyyy become a sideshow, the main event or a nonhappening? Will Brendan Shanahan torch the Rangers in his first game back since being unceremonially dumped by the idiot front office? Will the Ranger defense be able to stop Parise, who has turned into one of the top talents in the league?
What We'll (Hopefully) See: A nice salute by the fans and Garden staff for Shanny - the man at least deserves a video tribute. Better officiating then in Pittsburgh. Hank not to allow two or more soft goals. Wade Redden to be injured for the rest of his career. Mike Rupp to get his untalented ass kicked by Colton Orr.
Also Check Out: The solid Fire & Ice, my former fellow NY Times Hockey Night in Blogdom foe In Lou We Trust moved to SBN and Rich Chere's MSM blog.