The Chicago Blackhawks will return to the Garden for the first time since October 10th, 2008 - that is just waaaaayyyyy too long for a fellow Original Six team. Puck drop is at 7 and you can watch those beautiful sweaters on MSG or NHL Network.
Where We Are Now: Infuriatingly par for the course in that the team is stepping up against 'big' teams and stepping down against 'small' teams. Maybe it is some kind of old school sentiment that shakes off the Sunbelt teams or something but the Rangers simply disappointed last week in games against Atlanta and Carolina. There was a nice rebound in Toronto on Saturday but who knows if they can repeat that performance...
Where They Are Now: The reigning Cup Champs weren't able to have much of a hangover as they had a busy October and they came out of it 7-5-1. Like the Rangers, they had three games in four days last week and went 2-1. The loss was a wild 7-4 game against the Oilers while the victories were against the Kings and the Wild.
Who To Watch For: Marian Hossa is thankfully out with injury (well, thankfully for the Rangers but not my fantasy team) so the Blueshirts don't have to worry about him but the Hawks have plenty of other weapons. First and foremost is Pat Sharp, who has been scoring at nearly a goal per game rate with 10 in 12. While their livers may never be the same thanks to the many moments of public intoxication this summer, Pat Kane and Jon Toews have not shown any ill effects from all of the alcohol. Duncan Teeth is still one of the best blueliners in the league and Super Nintendo Hjalmers has quietly become a top flight guy. But some of the guys you have to look out for are the lesser knowns - Troy Brouwer has yet to reach his potential and is only getting better (no matter how much the Fifth Feather is down on him at the moment) while youngster Jake Dowell has been hot of late, with goals in each of his last three games.
What To Watch For: Which Rangers show up - the kind that block shots and play a team game, the kind that skates hard and forces play by going to the net or the kind that rolls over and dies. What kind of form Marty Turco shows up in - the kind that allowed four goals in one period against the Oilers or the kind that stopped 60 of 62 shots in the games against LA and Minny. Eddie O said on NHL Live that Brian Campbell will play his first game of the NHL season, which is perfect timing for us of course (ugh), so watch for him to channel Bobby Orr for a goal or three.
What We'll (Hopefully) See: The Rangers taking the game to the Hawks instead of vice versa. No stupid, lazy penalties because Chicago will make them pay. Hank not needing to star as he did on Saturday but getting the same kind of help with all of the blocked shots. MDZ not playing as poorly as he has on both sides of the ice. Mike Sauer stepping into the lineup and showing no rust - the beat guys say he will be back in, hopefully at the expense of Eminger. If Boogaard plays then a tilt against John Scott, why the hell not? Justify the goon's paycheque since he won't fight for his teammates. Alex Frolov to do, well, anything.
Also Check Out: McClure does some great work over at SBN's Second City Hockey so that is all you really need but for further reading, Third Man In and the Fifth Feather are both pretty good.