No, I’m not sure you can say that about any game at this point. However…..take a look at the Eastern Conference after the Devils’ come-from-behind win last night against Montreal, and the Rangers are now squarely outside the playoff picture with 30 points.
With that in mind, you don’t want to pass up an opportunity tonight against the promising but still vulnerable Penguins.
Some quick thoughts after the morning skate:
Now that Jarkko Immonen is here, and now that we know he’s getting a shot on the second line tonight, the next question is how much latitude the prospect will be allowed in his first NHL game of the year. It’s an important point: it’s one thing to throw a Ryan Callahan or Nigel Dawes or even Thomas Pock in the occasional game. But those players should be afforded the opportunity to make mistakes in the interest of long-term growth.
I asked Tom Renney about that today and here’s what the coach said.
“I’m hoping we have the opportunity to have more than one look at him obviously. If we do that that means it’s worked or there’s reason to believe it will work….As long as I believe there’s reason to pursue it, I’m happy with that.”
Naturally, Renney isn’t one for making promises, but unless Immonen starts teeing the puck up on a regular basis for the likes of Crosby and Malkin tonight, one would hope this is not his only audition.
Speaking of Immonen, Renney agreed for all the center’s intellect and playmaking ability, his foot speed, or lack thereof. is his one drawback. Keep an eye on that tonight and see if it’s a factor. Renney said it was the one area he asked Immonen to work on during the off-season, but he also acknowledged there’s only so much an athlete can do. “Some guys are physiologically challenged.” Oh, so that’s what I am. Here I was thinking I was just slow.
Darius Kasparaitis is a go for tonight as well, taking Sandis Ozolinsh’s place alongside Karel Rachunek. But unlike with Immonen, it’s unclear whether tonight is Kaspar’s lone shot. What Renney did say is there is also the chance that Sandis Ozolinsh and Kasparaitis could be in the lineup together on Saturday (What’s Russian for, “I thought you had him”?)Anyway, that’s not to say that will be the case. But let’s just say tonight’s an important game for Kasparaitis.
Rangers fans, I know these are trying times, but look on the bright side: your team is a lot better off than their corporate brethren, the Knicks (here’s my colleague and friend Mike Dougherty’s “entertaining blog”:http://knicks.lohudblogs.com on the team). Since my mom was hosting her book club last night, my old man was exiled to our house, where he subjected me to the Knicks’ awful outing against the Washington Wizards (this sounds like the premise of a bad sitcom episode, doesn’t it?). Personally, I think my dad would have been better off listening to the women in my mom’s book club. Instead he opted for a night of yelling at the TV every time the Knicks made a poor play, which averaged out to about every seven seconds.