Saturday, October 11, 2008

Rangers Off to Best Start since 89-90 Season- Coyotes Open Up Tonight

The Garden was rocking last night as the Rangers returned from Prague to their home at Madison Square Garden in New York City as they hosted the up and coming Chicago Blackhawks. The Rangers came out to a drum roll and lined up on their blue line. Many players received big ovations while an Irish guard tapped snare drums to the entrances. It was absolutely awesome to see and I am so happy to have gotten back the MSG. 
Wade Redden, Aaron Voros, Brandon Dubinsky, and Nikolai Zherdev scored for the Rangers as the second line was on fire last night. The speed of the team is amazing making it hard for teams to cover them. Dubinsky was easily the best player on the ice for the entire game besides Henrik Lundqvist who did his part in keeping the Rangers undefeated. 
But getting back to the second line. Dubinsky and Zherdev were all over the place as their quickness was unmatched. Both played very physical games which may not be surprising for Dubinsky but Zherdev was never really known for being physical....maybe he watched some Ovechkin videos over the summer. Voros was great last night as well being the big body on that line. His goal was very nice and his celebration even better as he jumped up against the glass and acknowledged the fans. 
The first line didn't score last night save for Wade Redden banging in a puck that Blackhawks goalie Cristobal Huet had left on a silver platter. Ryan Callahan and Paul Mara both showed the grit of this team as they both decisively won fights they were involved with. The Rangers are off to their best start since the 1989-1990 season.  
Of course, not everything was 100% positive on the Ranger side. There were periods of time where the Chicago Blackhawks were controlling the puck and play. This young team has alot of good things going for them and I saw why people in Chicago were excited for their team. Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith were the two goal scorers for the Blackhawks as they certainly made it a tough home opener for the Rangers. Good luck to them as they grow up together. Like I mentioned at the game, the Coyotes and Blackhawks will be 2 of the top teams in the Western Conference in 5 years. 
Speaking of the Coyotes, they have their first game of the season tonight as they host the Columbus Blue Jackets for their home opener. Here are the projected lines tonight for Wayne Gretzky's Coyotes:

Shane Doan-Olli Jokinen-Peter Mueller
Dan Carcillo-Kyle Turris-Kevin Porter
Daniel Winnik-Martin Hanzal-Viktor Tikhonov
Todd Fedoruk-Steven Reinprecht-Mikkel Boedker

Derek Morris-Ed Jovanovski
Kurt Sauer-Zbynek Michalek
David Hale-Keith Yandle


Gretzky has put some of his guys back together like the top line. It is surprising to see Mikkel Boedker way down on the 4th line but it seems like any of these lines can put the puck in the net. The speed will be key to the Coyotes as they are looking to get off on the right foot. They will have to make sure Rick Nash is contained and that the forecheck is strong. The Blue Jackets may not have alot of names but they have the talent and skill to beat you. The Yotes will need to keep the pressure high and make sure Nash doesn't run wild on them again like he did last year. I am predicting a Coyotes win by a score of 5-1. Kyle Turris will get his first official NHL goal as will Viktor Tikhonov. Jokinen will get his first goal as well. It will be a fun game and I hope the Coyotes get a good start to the season. 

Rangers are in Philadelphia tonight as their schedule continues to be painful. Make sure you tune in at 7pm on MSG.

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