Friday, November 19, 2010

Peepin' Foes: Colorado Avalanche

The Rangers are out west tonight, opening a short two-game road trip with their second game this season against the Colorado Avalanche (9pm, MSG-Plus).

Where We Are: The first one didn't go so well, a 3-1 loss in the fourth game of the season. Since then the team has picked themselves up, dusted themselves off and played a more cohesive game. Sometimes it has worked out - vs. Buffalo last week - and sometimes it has not - vs. Boston this week.

Where They Are: Winners of three of their last four and five of their last eight, Colorado is a young, well-coached hungry team that combines top end skill with solid goaltending.

Who To Watch For: That goaltending, surprisingly, has come in the form of Petr Budaj of late as Craig Anderson was injured. That may change tonight as Anderson is healthy and looking to get back into the game. Their blueline has been stepping things up with John-Michael Liles leading the way. Liles, who was trade bait last season, has seven points in his last four games. Kevin Shattenkirk scored his first NHL goal in their last game and looks far, far better than his old Boston University teammate Matt Gilroy. Matt Duchene hasn't scored in nine games but had his first career fight the other day. Even though he is slumping, the Avs offense have been in good shape with Chris Stewart and Paul Stastny putting up points like it is going out of style.

What To Watch For: A Ranger team struggling to keep up with the speedy Avs in the altitude. Hank to either bounce back from the back goal against Boston or to implode. Chris Stewart to strike again after scoring two in the first game against the Rangers this season. Liles to show MDZ how to play point on a power play. Foote to be the filthy, dirty, slow, old warrior that he is while he - along with Scott Hannan - makes himself acquainted with Dubi and Gabby. Brandon Yip to pop up in the most annoying of places down low.

What We'll (Hopefully) See: A decent Ranger power play. The Rangers blocking the passing lanes so capably used by wily vet Milan Hejduk. Alex Frolov to do anything (other than a wraparound). Cody McLeod vs. Brandon Prust (and not Dubi).

Also Check Out: Quebec Nordiques Preservation Society and Quebec Nordiques Legends for the nostalgia, Mile High Hockey, All Things Aves and my personal favourite Jibble Scribbits for the current pretenders.

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