Amidst all your doom and gloom, let’s not forget that the Rangers have won seven of a possible eight points over the last four games, which is pretty good whether it’s against NHL teams or the best in Westchester County high school hockey (OK, if it was against the high school teams, I’d expect the full eight).
I’m not trying to say this team is free of concerns. I’m just saying maybe they’re not the rudderless ship we sometimes make them out to be.
With that in mind, the Rangers have their work cut out for them against the swift-footed Thrashers, and here’s a few things to keep tabs on.
Henrik Lundqvist: You figure the King is going to see his share of rubber tonight, but after a strong showing in Florida, perhaps that’s not the problem it was. Still at a vulnerable stage in his sophomore effort, Lundqvist needs to string together a couple of solid outings to build up his confidence.
Three periods of hockey: Twice in consecutive games the Rangers built a two-goal lead, only to see it dissipate over the course of regulation. The last thing you want to lend credence to is a reputation for not holding a lead. Because that’s something other teams begin to feed off.
Marcel Hossa: It’s been said before: if his last name was Jones, there wouldn’t be the same level of scrutiny directed at a fourth-line player. But because Hossa’s older brother Marian, who he’ll be facing tonight, is the currently leading the NHL in points and goals, there is a sense the Ranger should be something else. Here’s what the younger Hossa is: a fairly effective checking forward who has limited offensive ability. I’m on record saying the Rangers have more intriguing options. But I also think the team could do a lot worse.
OK, that’s enough to get things started. Let’s touch base later.