Or afternoon. Whatever. Happy St. Paddy’s Day.
The Rangers and Les Habs are tied for sixth (Montreal has a game in hand) and are only four points out of fourth (but also four points out of 10th) in the East. But you know that.
You also know that things are looking up for the Blueshirts after Sunday’s fairly complete win over the Flyers at the Garden avenging the less-than-stellar loss in Philly the day before.
And you know that John Tortorella has made a big difference since the coaching change.
Well, Montreal has had its own coaching change, too, with GM Bob Gainey pulling a Glen Sather and stepping behind the bench himself after firing Guy Carbonneau, another Montreal legend.
So the Habs are struggling since the change, with a win over a bubble team, a bad loss, and then another against the Devils and Martin Brodeur, who tied St. Patty Roy’s wins record with Roy in the house. Alex Kovalev — you’ve heard of him — missed the last two with a flu bug, but he is expected back tonight. Kovalev has been known to sleep-walk through games and even long stretches of games. But he has also been known to awaken wide-eyed and with a vengeance whenever he sees Blueshirts in front of him.
Expect him to be prowling for goals tonight. Expect the Habs to anticipate the Rangers’ aggressiveness, and to patiently wait for the inevitable (Wade Redden) bad pinch or turnover at the blue line, and then to counter-attack. Expect Gainey to have them ready for what the Rangers are bringing in the Tortorella era.
The big question is whether King Henrik can turn around his abysmal record in Montreal (it’s not the Forum anymore, Hank). Larry Brooks wrote about that today (but beware, you may be assaulted with one of those annoying video ads if you try to read it).
I’m back from my Oddyssey through Poughkeepsie, New Paltz and Utica, where I actually saw a high school hockey championship double-header and one of the teams was named “Oddyssey.” I was reminded that former Devils coach Tom McVie used to coach at the Utica Memorial Auditorium, where I saw the games.
McVie is credited with the line that Roger Neilson used to borrow whenever they saw a bad game:
“They should let everybody in for free and make them pay to get out.”
Or for free, you could win $100 million. Seriously. All you have to do is fill out a perfect NCAA men’s bracket and you could make more money than Wade Redden, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez and Michal Rozsival combined. It’s free, so why not slide over to the hardwood and give it a shot? I will be competing with fellow blogsters Pete Abraham, the Blogfather himself, Kevin Devaney Jr., Josh Thomson (the mystery man from the right side of this page) and Sam Borden.