Sunday, November 21, 2010

Peepin' Foes: Calgary Flames

For the second straight game the Rangers will get the Red Wings' sloppy seconds when they face off against the Calgary Flames at the Garden Monday night (7pm, MSG).

Where We Are: After the pleasant surprise of the win over Minnesota, the Rangers are returning to the Garden where they are 4-6-1 this season. Perhaps the young roster has been enjoying Manhattan a bit too much and, while they are enjoying their nights out, they are ruining ours by showing up to work in less than top form. The best we can hope for is that after playing back-to-back Friday and Saturday, they took Sunday night easy.

Where They Are: On Thursday The 4th Line Blog wrote: "They’re ... a completely apathetic team. Well, maybe not completely, but not far from it either. They’re making bizarre trades, the coach is shuffling lines seemingly out of boredom, and fans are simply angry. This is the point where GMs and coaches are often fired..."

Since then the Flames beat the hell out of Chicago 7-2 behind a hat trick by Jarome Iginla and choked against the Wings 5-4. Iggy had two goals and an assist but it wasn't enough. A bad penalty and a broken stick allowed Henrik Zetterberg to force overtime with three seconds left in the third and Nick Lidstrom won it in the four-on-four. Who knows what the sudden meltdown will do to the team - it could strengthen their resolve or send them into a death spiral. Let's hope for the latter.

Who To Watch For: Iginla is red hot right about now. After the team went 1-7 in the eight games before Chicago, the "Trade Iginla" wagon was brought out again and folks in L.A. started drooling. The classiest captain in the league, Iggy is the total package as a player and can take over games. Alex Tanguay came back from a terrible season in Tampa and has recaptured some of his old form while Rene Bourque continues to be a regular threat. Calgary's gamble on re-signing Olli Jokinen has unsurprisingly failed while the addition of Brendan Morrison has proved brilliant; Morrison just seems more comfortable in Western Canada. Jay Bouwmeester has been a bust so the GM traded his own kid to bolster the blueline, adding Carolina's Anton Babchuk.

What To Watch For: Miikka Kiprusoff to give up just two goals as the fine Finn has allowed two goals in five of his last eight starts. Then again backup Henrik Karlsson hasn't played once this month maybe Kipper won't start ... yeah right. Robyn Regehr, if he is able to go after taking a bad fall last night in Detroit, making himself quite familiar with Gabby while Mark Giordano and Cory Sarich do their best to clog the middle on the Pack line. Matt Stajan keeping his five-game assist streak going. Alex Frolov trying his wrap-around more often now that it actually worked.

What We'll (Hopefully) See: Hank to step back into the lineup and not give up a single soft goal. Even though Drury is out, hopefully someone showing a good memory by getting Curtis Glencross back for that bad hit last year. Raitis Ivanans is concussed so there is no one for Boogey to dance with but a Prust vs. Tim Jackman battle might be nice - it's always a pleasure to see a former Islander get his ass kicked - but Tom Kostopoulos has yet to fight for his new team so the pressure is on there. Derek Stepan to shrug off the pressure and have a good game at home for once. Brian Boyle to snap his second four-game goal drought of the season.

Also Check Out: Sadly Five Hole Fanatics has called it quits but Hit The Post, SBN's Matchsticks & Gasoline and the Battle of Alberta continue to bring the news.

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