The Blueshirts are back from Boston and are heading onto the real Garden ice for a game against the New Jersey Devils Tuesday (7 p.m. on Versus). Just FYI, I pre-dated this post to keep the Bahston stuff up for the day.
Where We Are: As many have mentioned, the Rangers have been beating the teams they were supposed to beat of late - a stark contrast to a month ago - and are on a 8-1-3 rip. Seeing how bad things were when they were losing to Atlanta and the Isles (and later the lone loss in the last 12, the Flyer embarrassment), we are on a nice high. That being said, this will be a real test.
Where They Are: Where they are is why it will be a real test. The Devils are in first place in the east. Even though they lost the PSE&G "We Make Things Work For You" game - the bout against the Bolts that postponed a period and a half until Sunday after a circuit breaker blew at the Rock on Friday - New Jersey has been pretty hot, having won five of their last seven games.
Who To Watch For: Jamie Langenbrunner, not Chris Drury, was named captain of Team USA for Vancouver 2010. Zach Parise, not Chris Drury, was given an A (as did Dustin Brown, Ryan Suter, and former Devil Brian Rafalski). Travis Zajac and Niclas Bergfors trail the two of them in points this season and are both playing extremely well. Patrik Elias hasn't scored in two games but, in his career, has 57 points in 59 games against the Rangers.
What To Watch For: The level of chemistry among the Ranger forwards with the return on Vinny Prospal. What kind of shape Prospal is in. Who gets scratched for Prospal (please let it be Brashear). And Hank vs Mmmmaaarrrrtttyyy: Hank is 16-6-4 with a 1.85 gaa and .932 save percentage against the Devils in his career, Mmmmaaarrrrtttyyy is 4-11-3 since the start of the '07-08 season.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: A Ranger statement that they are better than their Hudson rivals. A passionate, packed Garden crowd giving it to Mmmmaaarrrrtttyyy. Sean Avery re-introducing himself to Mmmmaaarrrrtttyyy. Ales Kotalik not making any turnovers or giving up any penalty shots.
Also Check Out: The solid Fire & Ice, SBN's In Lou We Trust and Rich Chere's MSM blog.