Columbus is one of those teams that you often forget is in the NHL. They were a recent expansion team, they are in the other conference, they've only made the playoffs once and most of their roster is made up of second-hand grinders. That being said, those are the teams that the Rangers often lose to because they get completely outworked.
Familiar Foes: Fedor Tyutin. It still hurts to see Toots come in to the Garden, even moreso now when you think that the Rangers have nothing to show for it. Dan Fritche is long gone and Nik Zherdev will skate for the Flyers. Sure we got rid of Christian Backman but he bounced for Sweden last year so he woulda been gone too. But Tyutin continues to plug away as a sturdy defenseman, the kind the Rangers need so desperately. Aside from him, the forgotten superstar Rick Nash somehow has been content being a big fish in no pond with no help. Kristian Huselius and RJ Umberger (oh yeah, remember him?) still show up once in a blue moon and youngsters Jakub Voracek, Derick Brassard and Kris Russell are still developing into decent NHLers. This will be the big year for goaltender Steve Mason, as he slumped so badly in his sophomore season.
N00bz: Ethan Moreau was added this summer, joining Sammy Pahlsson, Chris Clark and Rusty Klesla in the veteran experience/can't-believe-they-are-still-playing-in-the-NHL category. The massive (6'5, 230) Tom Sesito should secure a spot on the team this fall, as should the awesomely named Grant Clitsome. Clitsome, a 25-year-old defender, collected three points over his first four games last spring before going cold over his last seven.
Last Year: Monday, November 23rd, a 7-4 Ranger win.
This Year: Saturday, December 11th in Columbus. The teams will also meet in Traverse City on September 11th but that doesn't count.
What They Mean To Blue: The Rangers slumped at the same time in early December last year, going 0-2-2 against Buffalo, Chicago, Atlanta and the Isles - the Isle game being a horrific, lackluster 2-1 loss at the Garden. When the season comes down to one point, you look back and realize just how big these little games are.