The Duluth excursion made for a curious dynamic today, although one I would gladly welcome again.
For instance, rather than huddle in some dark locker room after practice, we waited outside in the sunshine for players to come out. Everyone eventually did, and since there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, there was no rush for anyone to get on the bus.
Naturally, the fact that the Rangers stole off with a win in Game 1 last night allowed for an even more upbeat mood today. Practice was a scant 40 minutes (with the Thashers actually skating on an adjacent rink across the hallway), and then it was a matter of resting up for what will likely be a physical Game 2.
“Half done as far as we’re concerned,” Tom Renney said of the two-game set in the Southland. “The big thing for our team is to not feel full of itself that we’ve come in here and got a game. This is a very good team that I know will play better. We’ve got to be much better ourselves if we expect to beat the Atlanta Thrashers.”
Be sure to check out my colleague “Rick Carpiniello’s blog”:http://carp.lohudblogs.com throughout the playoffs as well. Carpie was the dean of the Rangers beat before graduating to the lofty status of columnist. But he still has a ton of insight, and is able to put a lot of what we’re seeing these days into proper context.
A brief audio clip from Renney today is below. The answer was to a question I posed about the Thrashers’ attempts to entice the Rangers into a more wide-open style than the defensive-oriented game they’ve been playing.
Following up on the Hossa hit, the left wing is not only fine but both he and Renney agreed it was important for him to get hit like that just to see his knee can take it. Hossa said the brace he’s wearing is helping him in that regard, but that he’s still conscious of how he positions himself upon contact.
Blair Betts missed practice because of an assortment of “bumps and bruises,” according to Renney. The center is expected to play tomorrow, however.
Karel Rachunek also skated and looked fairly mobile. Renney has upgraded the defenseman to “day-to-day” and given Tommy Pock’s misadventures last night, I wonder if there may be a greater need to get Rachunek back sooner rather than later. Either way, tomorrow is highly doubtful.
Yes, I was surprised by Bob Hartley’s decision to start Johan Hedberg tomorrow, especially since last night he seemed to chalk up Lehtonen’s ugly start to simple nerves. From an outside perspective, I can’t help but think a move like that creates more negative energy than anything else.
There were about two dozen fans outside the Ice Forum today waiting for the Rangers to board their bus. Jaromir Jagr stopped for every kid to sign autographs, and even posed for pictures. But when it was a full-grown man on his own — i.e. someone who looked like an autograph collector — Jagr blew right past him.
OK, that’s all for now. More later….