For the first season since '06-07, expectations for the New York Rangers are quite low entering the season.
You know what that means?
We have them right where we want them! The Blueshirts can blow everyone away with a solid season and it begins tomorrow night. Conditions are primed for a great start when they drop the puck in Buffalo. Why? Six reasons:
1- The Sabres will already be tired, playing the second half of a back-to-back. They have to hope that the crowd will be enough to rejuvenate their players after what is certain to be a tough opening night in Ottawa. Sure they are well conditioned pro athletes but a real game is a real game and they haven't played any real games. And if the Sens expose any deficiencies in the Sabres play, former Ranger defenseman Lindy Ruff won't have the time to make any corrections.
2- No Chris Drury and likely no Tim Kennedy. A little harsh but that means two less distractions on the ice, two guys who can't get caught up in their old stomping grounds and the people that fill them. Dru went pointless in all four matchups against the Sabres last season and Kennedy has got to be pissed to be tossed aside like a dead hooker.
3- Derek Boogaard has to redeem himself. After going without a fight and embarrassing the hell out of himself and the Ranger franchise with his amateurish cup check in the final preseason game, the Boogey man can make all of that disappear by keeping Pat Kaleta in line.
4- No one will be surprised by mighty midget Tyler Ennis. Ennis had a goal and two assists when he faced the Rangers in April but now the boys will be aware of what the kid is capable of. The oompa loompa is dangerous, plain and simple.
5- Thomas Vanek is banged up with a bad neck. Vanek, a two-time 40-goal scorer, got hurt during the playoffs last spring and the Sabres fell apart against the Bruins. Vanek played three games of the six and had two goals and an assist - that is how good he is. Sadly he has never been able to pick them up on his back; to steal the old ad line, Is This The Year? While looking through the numbers, I came across another interesting stat: since the Sabres beat the Rangers in the playoffs in '07 - when Tim Connolly had four assists in six games - the former Islander has only put up two points (both assists) in nine games against us.
6- The Rangers have won their opening night for of the last five years, falling last season in Pittsburgh (before rattling off seven straight wins). The Blueshirts are better teasers than the women at the strip clubs around the city - if history is any indication they will raise our hopes before setting them on fire and stomping them like a burning bad of poo.
Let's Go Rangers!