There are a half dozen games left in the Ranger regular season and they are making their spring Florida swing this weekend. They face Florida on Saturday and take on Tampa tonight (Friday). Just a heads up, the game is on MSG at 7:30, not 7.
Where We Are: Despite putting up more disappointments than happy endings (haha, happy endings), the Rangers are actually in decent shape to make the playoffs thanks to a 3-0-1 run over the last four games. The Blueshirts are in 10th place with 78 points. The roles have reversed and they now have at least a game in hand over the four teams directly ahead of them (two over Atlanta, who has 80 points). Philly, Montreal and Boston hold the last three playoff spots in the LEast but all have 82 points in 77 games. The Thrashers, Bruins and Flyers all lost on Thursday, making this weekend HUGE for the Ranger playoff hopes.
Where They Are: Tampa is the third worst team in the NHL ... despite having just four points less than the Rangers. Some folks call this parity, I just call it pathetic. The Bolts have three wins in their last five games and are coming off of a 2-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday.
Who To Watch For: Steve Downie. Somehow the kid often known as Downie Syndrome for his unthinkable idiocy has 46 points and 206 PIM and is the only player on his team positive in +/- with a +14. 14! Steve Stamkos scored his 46th goal in that win over the Pens (that is six more than Gabby). Marty St. Louis recorded two assists to hit the 90 point mark ... 10 more than Gabby and 35 more than New York's second leading scorer, Vinny Prospal. Damn, we are pathetic. Vinny Lecavalier has been a disappointment to many this season and he has 67 points ... 12 more than Vinny. Of course the Rangers have five more players with 20 or more points than Tampa but still ... they are Tampa!
What To Watch For: Another flat first period by the Rangers. How the Tampa goaltending fares; Antero Niittymaki gave up five goals the last time he faced the Blueshirts (in that 8-2 win in January) while Mike Smith allowed four in the pre-Olympic loss. Niitty has been the go-to guy for the Bolts but Smith is the one who held the Pens at bay on Wednesday so who knows who will start and just how good they will be.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: Vinny Prospal and Chris Drury making it three straight games against the Lighting with a goal. P.A. Parenteau to continue his decent play of late and for Corey Locke to make an impression so the team will re-sign them both this summer (P.A. is a UFA, Locke is a RFA). Hank not giving up any soft goals, unlike the pair he allowed on the Isle. With Ryan Malone out with injury, the Rangers giving Hank some lanes to see the puck. An epic bout between Zenon Konopka and Jody Shelley, to determine just who's face looks worse.
Also Check Out: The Hockey Bay, the MSM Lightning Strikes and SBN's Raw Charge are worth checking out.