“When you play against them with a different team you don’t feel that- the energy of the building. But when I played for them - I cannot even explain it. It’s something special. The fans were unbelievable. Bad or good times they were there for you. They were the sixth player on the ice for sure.” -Nik Antropov to BluelandWell, we get to be the sixth player again tonight as Borat's new bunch of buddies, the Atlanta Thrashers, come into the Garden to play the Rangers at 7pm (on MSG for those who can't make it, or those masochists who like listening to Micheletti).
Where We Are: Coming off of a four day break after a 1-2 western Canada swing. Not enough time to get Drury or Dubi back but enough time to allow Brashear back on the ice; Zip wrote that the Rangers are going with three centers, meaning a return to the lineup for both Brash and Voros ... can't wait.
Where They Are: Faring pretty well considering that Kovy and Kane have been hurt. Three wins in their last five games, but one of the losses was to the Isles, which is shameful. Of course, we lost to the Islanders too, but that is even worse and we aren't talking about us right now.
Who To Watch For: The AP said for certain that Kovy was not playing and then they said that he was playing so I guess we will just have to wait and see. Also need to look out for Evander Kane as well. The kid has some great hands, a great shot and is pretty fast but is coming off of a foot injury. Without the two of them, Borat would skate on their top line with former Buffalo Sabre softie Maxim Afinogenov and Rich Peverley, who is probably the best player in the NHL that you have never heard of. Slava Kozlov is still around but even slower and more deliberate than he used to be. Zach Bogosian is learning that he can be defensively responsible while jumping into the attack and has six goals already.
What To Watch For: Ondrej Pavelec can catch fire and turn into a brick wall. I watched two of their games recently, one being his 50 save performance against the Sens. Sure the Sens stink, but he was amazing - outright amazing. Something to note is that he faced 30 or more shots in every one of his five wins this season. Keep an eye on the Ranger lines because juggling three centers with four lines of wingers should be interesting viewing, especially once they start getting tired. A Brashear/Boulton battle is likely if Brash's "hand" is up to it - Brash won their previous tilt so he won't run and hide like he does against real tough guys.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: Sean going back to being Sean. Higgins to get a goal on home ice. Cally to re-find his scoring touch. Hank to be healthy and strong. Arty step up and play well with increased minutes. Gabby to show more skill and tenacity than every Thrasher combined.
Also Check Out: As linked to at the top - the team's own blog Blueland, the requisite MSM blog and the in-depth, well thought out fan blog Do The Thrashers Have Large Talons? (I hate the SBN name so I won't use it.)