Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Critical Week

Hopefully the long layoff won't take the steam out of the Rangers surge to get back in the playoff hunt. While their next game isn't until Thursday at Carolina against the Hurricanes, their rivals will be in action trying to pile up points. Carolina plays the worst team in the Western Conference tonight, LA Kings, at home. Carolina currently holds the eight spot, four points ahead of the eleventh place Rangers. After this game tonight,Carolina will have played three more games than the Rangers. An upset by LA tonight, though unlikely, would be a huge boost to the Rangers chances.

Toronto and the Islanders square off in Toronto tonight, both teams ahead of the Rangers. Toronto in ninth has a two point lead over the Rangers and the Islanders one point over the Blueshirts. Right now, all three teams have played the same number of games, 56. Sixth place Tampa Bay gets the other bottom feeder in the west, Phoenix, at Tampa tonight. Montreal, which has fallen to seventh, has two games in two nights. At home tonight against Florida, which at 53 points, is barely alive in the playoff race and on the road tomorrow at New Jersey. By the time the Rangers take the ice on Thursday night the playoff picture will probably be tighter. Hopefully there will be no three point games and we get regulation wins and losses.

Tom Renney has a little bit of a dilemna for Thursday. Does he put the new guy Pascal Dupuis in the lineup and break up the chemistry of a team that has rolled through two straight wins? Who gets benched? Orr? Hollweg? Prucha? Orr has supplied the Rangers with some of the toughness that has been lacking and scored his first goal ever against Tampa Bay. He was in two fights with two tough guys, Roy and Brashear. Hollweg is still the Rangers most aggressive player and quickly jumped to Lundqvist's defense against Sutherby of Washington. Plus he leads the Rangers in hits. Prucha, while in a slump, has the speed needed against a team like Carolina and has the ability to put the puck in the net.

So whats the rush to get Dupuis in action? Renney has said before that the Rangers like it when Orr is in the lineup. Does he give them courage? What he does give them is the ability to skate around knowing full well that any cheap shot taken at them will be revenged by Orr. So what's the rush? The rush is that Sather went out and got this guy and they have to find out if he is going to be a participant or a bystander. Will he be an asset or a liability? Asset, then maybe roll the dice and go with this group to the end and not lose any prospects. Liability, then we need more help or we decide that we don't want to lose any players, prospects and not challenge for the Cup. Notice I said challenge for the Cup. To me making the playoffs is no big deal unless we can mount a serious effort to go win the Cup. Sorry, making the playoffs and going quitely just doesn't cut it.

Interesting week ahead, lets see how it plays out.

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  • Anonymous said...

    I say Renney should scratch Cullen,
    and see what Pascal Dupuis can do on that line.
    Then he'll have a better idea of how to utilize both players.

  • mike said...

    anonymous-The man has decided to scratch Orr and drop Prucha to the fourth line. Too bad Renney doesn't have the same patience with Prucha that he has with Hossa.