A second win today in Prague would be significant for a number of reasons, but one is this:
Externally at least, just about everyone is expecting the Rangers to endure some sort of hangover effect from their European journey. Should the Rangers capture four points in Prague, it would help negate some of the damage.
By winning at least once, the team is assured that the trip has not been a disaster—far from it, in fact, when you consider the international goodwill and group bonding that was accomplished. But two wins puts the team in a favorable spot, especially when you consider the schedule is fairly intense following Friday’s MSG opener. There will be six games in nine nights, including a trip to the reigning Stanley Cup champions.
Update, 11 a.m.: Still no word on scratches for today since back-to-back games almost always mean optional skates. But coming off a win, I would be surprised if there are any changes. With that in mind, the possibility that neither Patrick Rissmiller or Dan Fritsche will see the ice on the opening weekend only reinforces the notion that the Rangers overdid it with their acquisition of third- and fourth-line forwards this offseason (in fairness to Rissmiller, he’s coming off the flu, so that may play a huge factor).
Either way, I would expect the team to do something about it, and fairly soon.
As for goaltending, with Henrik Lundqvist set to start today and almost certainly the home opener on Friday, a logical first game for Stephen Valiquette would be next Saturday in Philadelphia, where he had two shutouts last season.
Update,Â 2:30 p.m.: The trip to Europe is officially a success. The Rangers pick up a pair of 2-1 wins, andÂ allow a number of players—namely Wade Redden—to find their footing before the home opener on Friday.
The Rangers were the dominant team up until a sloppy third period, and while they are certainly miles ahead of where they were eight days ago in an ugly preseason loss to New Jersey, it’s at least worth asking what kind of opponent they were facing this weekend. Tampa Bay has a number of impressive parts, but other than in net, the LightningÂ might not put it all together for some time.
With that in mind, we know the Rangers have potential. But we might not really have a sense of how good they are until they play some more games.