Originally written December 17, 2011 on Blue Seat Blogs:
Standings: Coyotes (16-12-3), Rangers (17-8-4) Leading Scorer: Ray Whitney (10-18-28) Goaltender: Mike Smith(26 GP, 2.53 GAA, .920 SV%) Rangers Lines (probable): Artem Anisimov-Derek Stepan-Marian Gaborik
Ruslan Fedotenko-Brad Richards-Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin-Brian Boyle-John Mitchell
Brandon Dubinsky-Erik Christensen-Brandon Prust Ryan McDonagh-Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto-Steve Eminger
Jeff Woywitka-Anton Stralman Henrik Lundqvist gets the start. Scratches/Injuries: Marc Staal (concussion symptoms), Mike Rupp (knee), Wojtek Wolski (groin), Mike Sauer (concussion), Sean Avery (healthy) Preview: Those pesky ex-Rangers Coyotes are once again in the playoff hunt despite having a roster that underwhelms. The Yotes rely on a balanced scoring attack from Ray Whitney, the ever streaky Radim Vdbata, Keith Yandle, and Shane Doan. Ex-Rangers Lauri Korpikoski and Derek Morris also play significant roles for the Yotes, and they are expecting Michal Rozsival back in the lineup tonight as well. Phoenix is another one of those Dallas type teams that is winning despite themselves. They are middle of the road in both GF (82) and GA (82), which gives them an even goal differential. This is a team that just finds ways to win, despite their roster limitations and unsure future. If there’s one glaring weakness on this team, it’s depth. They have just four players over 20 points, but they have 10 players over 10 points. So while they lack big time depth, they do get supplemental scoring. The Rangers have gotten away from what they do best in the past two games, which is grind it out and play smart hockey. Phoenix will give them a run for their money, but this is a must win for the Rangers, who are stuggling on this eight game test against playoff opponents. Injuries are not an excuse. They need to win tonight, period. Crazy Thought: Brandon Dubinsky shows up. Opponent’s Blog: Howlin’ Hockey Game time tonight is 8pm on MSG, AM1050 and XM214.
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