Prepare to stay up late Tuesday night because the boys are out West for a 10:30 start on Tuesday night against the Los Angeles Kings (MSG).
Where We Are: Coming off of four periods of inspired play. Of course that came after many more periods of uninspired play but let's not think about those. Having won three of the last 11 games kinda shortens the memory.
Where They Are: Flying. L.A. has won eight of their last nine and six in a row - five on a road trip capped off with a wonderful come-from-behind beating of Mmmmaaaarrrrtttyyyy that had two goals in the final 1:46 turn the tables on the Devils. They are young, they are exciting and they may fly all the way up to the Olympic break ... unless the Rangers can stop them now.
Who To Watch For: Ahn-Jay Kopitar is a superstar and has only been helped by the presence of (former) Captain Canada Ryan Smyth. The Slovenian - not to be confused with Slovakian - has great wheels, sick hands and hockey smarts. Sloppy Seconds Jarret Stoll and a rejuvenated Michal Handzus add depth down the middle. I heart Dustin Brown, a kid who hits everything that moves and has no issue with working in the trenches. He is like a cleaner version of Pat Verbeek or the Western version of Ryan Callahan. Alex Frolov has been under-whelming but Wayne Simmonds is developing into a good player. Oh yeah, and they have Drew Doughty, who doesn't get the credit he deserves out East. Forget sophomore slump, Doughty is flourishing into Ray Bourque.
What To Watch For: People harped on Craig Anderson's omission to the Olympic team because of the hot season he is having. Well, Jon Quick has been just as good and is still getting better. I watched Quick shut down Ovechkin and the Caps in early January and he was utterly astounding. See if he is jut as astounding against the Rangers. See if Hank is healthy enough to start or if Chad (and the rest of the Rangers) can keep their momentum going after the win in Colorado.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: The Kotalik trade saga come to a close. Callahan to be better than his future Olympic teammate Brown. Any Ranger defenseman keeping Smyth away from the crease. A power play goal ... by the Blueshirts.
Also Check Out: The Battle of California, Life in Hockeywood, A Queen Among Kings sold out and moved to SBN at Jewels From The Crown, Purple Crushed Velvet and Rich Hammond moved over to Kings Insider.