Friday, April 13, 2007

Hartley Blinks

As I predicted after the first game, Bob Hartley, Atlanta's coach, will make a goaltending change in game two. The first volley in over coaching maneuvers will take place tomorrow afternoon when veteran goalie Johan Hedberg goes in the nets for Atlanta at Philips Arena against the Rangers. He will replace young Kari Lehtonen who lost the first game 4-3, despite making 34 saves. Hartley is probably thinking back to March 16th when Hedberg made 38 saves in turning back the Rangers 2-1 in OT. Hedberg is 9-4-2 this year with a 2.89 GAA and a save % of .898. Career wise against the Rangers, Hedberg is 5-3-0 with a 1.69 GAA and a save % of .940, so it seems that Hartley is playing the percentage and likes what he saw in Hedberg's past performances against the Rangers.

Of course Lehtonen wasn't the problem against the Rangers. Hartley and his high powered forwards were the problem. Hartley tried banging the Rangers into submission but got caught with his fourth line on against Jagr and company and he paid dearly for it as Jagr scored the games first goal. His top four lineman didn't help getting all of one shot on goal so Hartley hopes that putting in the veteran Hedberg will jump start his team. Atlanta claims they didn't play their best game and tomorrow they will likely come out more charged than they were in the first game and really try to bang the Rangers into submission.

Naturally the Rangers have their own plans. Tom Renney claims he over prepared for last years playoffs and doesn't seem likely to tinker with the success he had Thursday against the Thrashers. The Rangers also think they did not play their best game. Look for the Thrashers to come out storming in the opening minutes and the Rangers countering with their transition game. Also look for more penalties to be called, as they should, as the Thrashers got away with some boarding and charging calls in the last game, particularly Marian Hossa's hit on Pock into the boards.

So the Thrashers have to get their big four to generate some offense and the Rangers have to steady their defense, especially Girardi and Pock, to withstand the attack and generate their own offense, with maybe Shanahan and Prucha picking it up and it should be a whale of a game as the Rangers try to go up by two and come back home to a friendly and noisy reception.

ICINGS:

April 14, 2007
Newsday
Lehtonen Gets Hook
Daily News
Thrashers Pull Their Goalie
NY Post
Keepin' It Heal



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