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Some homestretch thoughts
Posted By On March 29, 2011 @ 7:03 am In Hockey,New York Rangers,NHL | 54 Comments
1) As much as youse probably, ahem, dislike the filthy cooke-riddled Penguins, you have to be impressed that here they are battling not only for the Patrick Division crown but also for the conference title and home-ice (for what that’s worth, which isn’t much) in the final weeks of the season with all they’ve endured. And now there’s hope being held out that Sid the Skid and his Slewfoot expertise could be back to slewfoot opponents in the playoffs. And that piece of cooke Cooke will be back in the second round. By the way, haven’t heard much from Mario lately, have we?
2) Speaking of teams you don’t, ahem, really like, the Islanders and their flock of talented young forwards — and minus Village People Gillies — are sure in a position they’d embrace: That of the spoiler. Because after tonight’s meaningless tilt against the Devils, the Islanders have remaining: Rangers tomorrow, Carolina Whalers Saturday, at Boston next Wednesday, Pitt next Friday and at Philly next Saturday. And how much fun was it seeing the Isles’ mini-goon Haley beat the cooke out of Carcillo the other day?
3) How is it that Ryan Miller (five shutouts) is considered an elite, top-5 (if not higher) goalie in this league, and yet Henrik Lundqvist (11 shutouts) is outside that top-5 (if not much lower)? 
4) How much panic do you think there will be right here if the Buffalo Baby Buffaloes beat your heroes tomorrow night?
5) There’s been a lot of discussion here lately over the decision on the 12th and 13th forward on a given night. I kind of like what John Tortorella has done there, substituting based on opponent, and giving guys a night off if he’s not thrilled with their game, and also making it clear that there’s not really much difference between No. 12 (or, for that matter, No. 10 and No. 11) and No. 13. Competition down there is good, especially since some of those guys, 10-13, have had some doggish games and done some stupid things within games.
6) It would be a much bigger problem if he had to sit out any forwards 1-9. Though he sure has nailed a few of those to the bench within games.
7) One more time: The first tiebreaker for a playoff spot is regulation and overtime wins. Skills competition wins do not count in the tiebreaker. So the Rangers will lose any tiebreaker against Montreal, Buffalo or Carolina. (*-Correction below).
8) I can’t for the life of me figure if the Rangers would be better served finishing sixth, seventh or eighth. I mean, the higher better in terms of having a better season and the appearance of greater improvement this season. But I don’t think it matters where they finish, even if they are ninth at the end (they won’t be). We know what this year has been about. That said, I can’t figure, also, which opponent would be best for them to face. And of course, with all that turmoil at the top of the Leastern standings, there’s no guarantee whom they will face no matter where they end up.
9) Watched Chicago-Detroit last night. Wow. Again, reinforcement of how good the Bestern Conference is. But also reinforcement how dangerous it is to sign a big-name, big-ticket free agent. Marian Hossa, who scored the winner in OT, has 23 goals. Twenty-three. He’s missed something like 17 games with injuries, but that’s the peril of putting so much cap space in one basket.
10) Todd Bertuzzi, another guy known for cheap shots, is also another guy who doesn’t get it. His elbow-to-the-head of Chicago’s Ryan Johnson  will again test NHL HQ’s resolve about head shots. If the NHL has any onions, Bertuzzi — especially given his rap sheet — will be sitting for a while. But I doubt it.
Gratuitous Brandon Prust fight photo, by AP.
*-Correction: Thanks to reader 5988 for pointing out the mistake in my calculation. I based it on the teams having the same record. Right now the first tiebreaker among the teams in sixth through ninth goes like this: Montreal 37 regulation/OT wins; Rangers 33, Buffalo 33, Carolina 31. (And given my math skills, that could be wrong, too).
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 Image: http://dqmt5fo24ucpe.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Prust-vs.-Habs.jpg
 His elbow-to-the-head of Chicago’s Ryan Johnson: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Video-Todd-Bertuzzi-ejected-for-elbow-to-head-o?urn=nhl-wp1293&utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter