Where We Are: For the fourth straight season the Rangers are trying to finish the season strong and make the playoffs. Just looked over old schedules and this is what I saw for the last 25 games of each campaign since the lockout:
2005-06: 10-11-4 (2-0-0 pre-Olympics).Where They Are: Having played one more game than the Rangers (70), the Habs sit in seventh with 76 points. They are even with sixth place Philly but the Flyers have two games in hand. Montreal is on fi-ya, having won five straight and six of seven since the Olympics.
2009-10: 6-4-2 with 13 to go including tonight (3-2-0 pre-Olympics).
Who To Watch For: Our old friend the MexiCan't was scoreless in the last two games for the Canadiens but put up 10 points over the four before that. Another former Ranger, 'Forget Aboot It' Dominic Moore has seven points in nine games since the Habs added him at the deadline. Sergei Kostitsyn is one of the players who got a boost from playing in Vancouver - he had five points in four games with Belarus and has looked quite good of late. I watched the last two Montreal games (against Edmonton and Boston) and he moved himself to good scoring positions and capitalized on them. Michael Cammalleri is out with injury but the oompa loompa Brian Gionta has six points in his last six games. Leading scorer Tomas Plekanec hurt himself in practice today.
What To Watch For: How the refs handle Sean Avery. They gave him some leeway against Philly and he drew two penalties; last time we played Montreal, he was called for an early penalty and disappeared the rest of the night. Jaroslav Halak shutting down the Ranger offense. Like Kostitsyn, Jaro has been red hot since starring in the Olympics - 5-0. Hal Gill hammering Marian Gaborik the way he used to destroy Jagr. Andrei Markov making magic the way he does. Markov is amazingly underrated; he moves the puck well, has a good slapshot and isn't afraid of going deep to make a play.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: Avery infuriating the Habs. Rozy scoring again (hahaha). A strong contingent of Ranger fans drowning out what has been a loud, annoying French presence in the Garden. Few dumb penalties for the Rangers as the Habs PP is pretty good - lookin' at you Olli Jokinen. How about Olli showing up and potting a few points? The MexiCan't playing like he did as a Ranger: endlessly circling, putting his teammates offside and laughing all the way to defeat.
Also Check Out: All Habs, the fun Four Habs Fans, SBN's Eyes on the Prize and a thorough MSM blog from the Gazette called Habs Inside/Out.