There is an old saying, "Be careful what you wish for." Well the Rangers and their fans wanted a sixth place finish to play the Atlanta Thrashers and, no thanks to the Rangers, they got it. I say no thanks because this was about as sterile a game you could get. With the exception of Jerkko Ruutu running around the ice hitting Jagr whenever he could and challenging Sean Avery, the game was dull. You think Ruutu would have been that aggressive if Colton Orr was in the lineup? Dull? The Penguins outhit the Rangers 11-10. The Rangers continued their ineptness on the power play going 0-4 while the Pens went 2-6, so there was the game. Another game lost because of the power failure.
Not to worry you say. I say worry, because special teams are an integral part of playoff hockey. The Rangers, even though they are ninth in the NHL with a 18.7 on the PP, are 4-31 in their last seven games. The first unit of Jagr, Nylander, Straka, Rozsival and either Prucha or Shanahan pass too much and Rozsival always passes the puck to Jagr no matter where he is positioned.
However, we have made the playoffs and we will play Atlanta in the first round. While they seem more offense oriented they have only scored three more goals than the Rangers and have given up thirty more goals than the Rangers. Remember they were bolstered at the trading deadline by the acquisition of Keith Tkachuk. In 18 games with the Thrashers Tkachuk is 7-7-14. Marion Hossa is their leader with 43-55-98 and other big goal scorers are Ilya Kovalchuk with 41 and Slava Koslov with 28. Their goalie is Karl Lehtonen who has a 2.81 GAA and a .911 save %. Atlanta finished with 97 points, the Rangers with 94. The Thrashers won 43 games, the Rangers 42. There seems to be little difference between the two teams and Atlanta won the season series 3-1. Two of the losses were in over time.
However, there is a difference and that difference is Henrik Lundqvist. In his last 28 games Lundqvist has posted a 16-4-6 record along with a 1.72 GAA and a .936 save %. He has been brilliant since Christmas. Jagr has also turned it around down the stretch so I believe that the Rangers should advance to the second round. This should be a very tough series but more about that later.
Atlanta 1st-Round Foe
Love & Hate
Blueshirts Headed To Atlanta
It's Playoff Time!