The Rangers return to the Garden on Wednesday night to take on the Florida kitty cats at 7 p.m. (on MSG).
Where We Are: About to be tested by a real team. After taking wins from three bad teams in the Isles, Flyers and Canes, the Rangers are facing the red hot Panthers. And they are playing at home, where they have suuuuuucked. I mean suuuuuucked. When they make diehards question their loyalty and send them away in droves, there is something really wrong. The team, coddled in their exclusive practice facility, ambles into their arena and doesn't play with the same passion that they do on the road. And, thus, they are 1-7-1 in their last nine on Broadway. That's money well spent by folks like us. Ugh. Almost $1,000 spent to see one win. Shoot me.
Where They Are: They inexplicably still haven't retired John Vanbiesbrouck's No. 34. That pisses me off. Granted, if they put him up they would be somewhat obligated to put Bure and Luongo eventually but neither of those guys got the team to the Cup finals - some place they will likely not return to anywhere soon. David Booth hasn't returned from his headaches but the Panthers still are 5-1-1 in their last seven and are holding eighth place in the conference - two points ahead of the Blueshirts, who have two games in a row.
Who To Watch For: Michael Frolik has nine points in his last seven games after putting up three against the pitiful Flyers. Stephen Weiss has been even hotter with four points in that game and 28 in his last 20 - he was held off the scoresheet just three times during that span. Nathan Horton was shut out in five of his last 22 games but still put up 26 points. That's insane. Also kinda nuts is Bryan McCabe fighting Mike Richards. After being mocked so much by Toronto media, McCabe is fulfilling that C on his jersey pretty well down in the sun, taking on the guy who took out Booth. I wish we had a good captain.
What To Watch For: If Torts decides to match the Drury line against the Weiss line to try to forecheck out their fire. How many of the tough guys dress for Florida and how they attempt to intimidate the soft Rangers. Steve Macintyre is no joke and Mike Duco has no brains - either one could do serious damage to the Rangers considering that they don't have a real enforcer; mongoloid Brashear is 0-6 this season with a loss to Macintyre. Greg Campbell reviving his history with Brandon Dubinsky.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: Gabby being Gabby and Hank being the King. Dubi building off that goal against Carolina. Higgins to keep trying, the goals will come ... eventually. Hobey step up his game after a mostly-invisible return from Hartford. Rozy and Redden still not hurting the team - still seeing as they weren't bad last game, with Rozy being actually *gulp* good). Christensen getting good minutes and making the most of them.
Also Check Out: The Rat Trick, On Frozen Pond (different from the Caps one) and SBN's Litter Box Cats.