The Blueshirts come off Deadline Day with a huge game at the Mausoleum against the Islanders. I attempted to get in to the blog box, but apparently they don't welcome many writers who openly say that their team is garbage and belongs in Kansas City. Geez, I just don't get it. EDIT- With the playoff prices coming out and my impending trip to go see the Blueshirts play the Habs in two weeks, I am blowing this one off. Woo hoo! A night with Joe Micheletti. Can't wait.
Where We Are: Say what you want about the last three games (or that four game stint way back when), but this marks the first real game of John Tortorella's Ranger career. He has had four days of practice time to teach the majority of his players the system. The three newbies - Avery, Morris and Borat - should get limited action (if they play at all) and all three are professional hockey players so they should just be able to step on the ice and play. While other folks have called some games prior "must win," in my opinion this is the first must win of the year. It needs to be a statement, it needs to be high scoring and it needs to get the ball rolling if the Blueshirts plan on making it into the playoffs.
Where They Are: Do not be fooled by the Bridgeport roster, the Islanders are more dangerous than ever. Yes, they lost their captain. Yes, their top goaltender is out for the year (woo hoo!). Yes, they will likely dress just three players with more than 300 NHL games (Dean McAmmond, Radek Martinek and Trent Hunter). But that means that they are younger, dumber (fearless) and playing for their NHL lives. How they do on the stretch run will decide if they will make the team next season. Richard Park, Doug Weight, DP, Freddy Meyer, Andy Sutton and Mike Sillinger are all out with injury and Brendan Witt is still suspended for his stupid drive-by elbow last week.
Who To Watch For: The Islanders were gushing over Jesse Joensuu after the Finn scored a goal in his debut during the Isles 4-2 win over the Aves (I told you Colorado was terrible). Swiss miss Mark Streit is proving that last season's scoring binge wasn't a fluke and is leading the Isles in points. He is everything Wade Redden isn't on the power play, namely capable. Sean Bergenheim has four goals in his last five games - two game winners and a shortie among them. And I always enjoyed rooting for Dean Mac - he was always the hard-working underdog kind of guy who every team needs and yet is rarely appreciated. If he doesn't retire after this season or meet with Steve Downie or Chris Pronger again, he will hit 1,000 NHL games next season. Good for him.
What To Watch For: Will Sean Avery (should he indeed dress) be a sideshow or a valuable member of the team? Will the Rangers be able to jump on the Isles early like they did the Avs on Saturday? Will the Rangers play down to the Islanders level? Will Isles goaltender Yann Danis stand on his head like he did against the Devils last week? Will the few Islander fans in the crowd be dumb enough to get drunk and pick fights with the Ranger fans?
What We'll (Hopefully) See: A statement that the players wearing Blueshirts are proud to be Rangers and want to make the playoffs.
Also Check Out: Mike the Islesblogger is a good guy rooting for the wrong team, the sweet-looking Dee is actually the obsessed Isles 7th Woman and of course Chris Botta is all over the Isles at Point Blank, he does get paid by them after all.