I don’t even have a memory from a game at Music City. I think I was only there once. The Predators were barely in the league when I left the beat, and it’s not even like the Rangers have gone there a bunch of times since then. Oh, Tennessee. Such a hockey town!
The Rangers will play the Predators tonight (an 8 p.m. start) for the first time since Oct. 18, 2006, a 3-0 Rangers loss at MSG. All-time the series is 5-4-1-2 in the Rangers favor, and they are 3-1-0-1 in Music City.
Anyway, both teams are in the same boat –fighting for their lives in an ultra-tight playoff race. The Preds have won six of their last eight and are in eighth place in the West with 71 points.
The Rangers, as you know, lost a three-game winning streak Monday and are ninth in the East, but that changes, as John Tortorella said, “hourly.”
And again in this new era under Tortorella, we are left to wonder about this team, and to watch each game not only for the result, but to try to ascertain if these Rangers are good enough to make the playoffs and/or to beat anybody if they get in. To wonder if they can score enough goals, no matter what the system they play. So far, we surely don’t know.
This would probably be a good place for the Rangers to start stringing together some points (even shootout points or OTL points are good when you play against the other conference), especially with the crucial home-and-home matinees against the Flyers looming this weekend.
Henrik “Lunch” Lundqvist is expected to play despite his lingering stomach flu, after sitting out Monday and puking during the Sunday game. The King Is one win shy of becoming the first goalie in NHL history to reach the 30-win plateau in each of his first four seasons, an accomplishment that must be taken with the grain of salt that other goalies may have done it with the benefit of shootouts instead of ties.
And it appears Tortorella will split up Wade Redden and Michal Rozsival, putting Redden with Derek Morris and Rozsival with Paul Mara. That should be interesting.
We’ll check back later if there are any updates.
For more on the fighting debate, Sam Borden and I are discussing it over at the Faceoff Blog. Also, if you would like to hear NHL VP Colin Campbell’s take on the issue, he will be the guest on Gary Bettman’s Sirius XM radio show from 4-5 p.m. today. You can call in with questions at 1-877-645-6696 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Another reminder: LoHud.com is running its annual March Madness bracket challenge. Me and some of my colleagues and fellow blogsters — inlcuding Blogfather Pete Abraham, Sam Borden, Kevin Devaney Jr. and Josh Thomson — will be filling in our brackets by Monday. If you fill in a perfect bracket you can win $100 million. Click here for details, or to enter.