After an actual practice day yesterday, the Rangers will see if it pays off when they face off against the Carolina Hurricanes tonight at the Garden (7 p.m., MSG).
Where We Are: Six losses in the last eight games but no longer on a ridiculous shutout streak after scoring two against the Pens in the latest heartbreaking loss. To recycle a line from the wrap, up 2-1 the Rangers managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory when a slashing penalty got the snowball rolling for Pittsburgh. That is how slim the mistake margin is for the Blueshirts nowadays, they have to be as close to perfect to get two points. And that is pathetic with their payroll. But whatever, we're getting used to it, right?
Where They Are: Carolina is the least in the East but have won two of their last three games, setting New York up for a big bad loss tonight. The Canes just beat up the not-so-big, not-so-bad Bruins on Monday 5-1.
Who To Watch For: Unlike our captain, who seems to have gotten even worse since the letter was stitched on his sweater last season, Eric Staal has gotten better. The Canes took the captaincy away from Rod Brind'Amour, who seemingly has passed his expiration date. He has 19 points in his last 12 games but what shutout by his brother Marc in the 2-1 Ranger win back on January 2nd. Shootout star and Olympic oversight Jussi Jokinen is proving the Finns wrong with 12 points in his last eight games. Chad LaRose has done very little since starring during the Carolina Cup run but also has been good lately. And the eternally young and underrated Ray Whitney is still around working his magic. No Tuomu Ruutu or Scott Walker, thankfully as both are injured.
What To Watch For: The Rangers played a prety decent first period against Montreal before falling apart in the second. Carolina kicked into gear against Boston and scored three goals in the second period. So 1+1=2 and the second period tonight could be very ugly.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: Marian Gaborik to slip out of his slump. Our Staal to play as physical as he did against the other brother on Monday. Arty Anisimov to prove that those two goals weren't a fluke. Ales Kotalik to come back and blast that cannon through Cam Ward. Tom Kostopoulos vs Aaron Voros.
Also Check Out: Red and Black Hockey, Canes Country and Lord Stanley's Blog.