So far the ships are running right on course.
Both teams were in action last night. The New York Rangers brought their six game winning streak to Toronto to take on an awful Maple Leafs team that is just falling apart right now. Despite a physical brand of hockey from the Leafs New York came out on top again by a score of 4-1. Brandon Dubinsky, Marc Staal, Michael Del Zotto, and Enver Lisin scored the four Ranger goals as they continued to roll. Marian Gaborik continued his point streak with two assists on the night.
The key to this game was not the scoring but goaltending. Henrik Lundqvist was his usual self as he stopped 34 of 35 Toronto shots. While the final score was a three goal advantage in favor of the Rangers the Maple Leafs could have easily made this game interesting if the King was not sharp. He made some difficult saves and had to deal with Toronto's tendency to run the goaltender.
If anything the Rangers need to get meaner on the back end. When the man in net is as important as Lundqvist is to your team you need to protect him. I think it is only a matter of time before Lundqvist snaps and goes off on someone. Jason Blake would have been the perfect candidate for that but Staal took care of him with a big hit late. Either way New York needs to be more mindful of what is going on with Lundqvist and how the opponents are treating him.
One other thing that has been out of the picture because of the winning is Sean Avery. Avery has played very well since coming back from his knee injury early in the season. However, I just do not see that edge from him that made everyone fall in love with him. The Rangers are winning which is the most important thing but I would like to see Avery live a bit more on the edge than he has been.
Rookie Michael Del Zotto is now tied for the league lead among defensemen for points with 8.
For the Phoenix Coyotes they are now on a three game winning streak that has seen them defeat the Sharks, Blues, and the Boston Bruins. Defeating the Bruins last night was impressive as three of the Coyotes four goals were scored by defensemen. Ed Jovanovski, Adrian Aucoin, Keith Yandle, and Scottie Upshall all scored for the Coyotes as they get another win against a decent team. Coyotes captain Shane Doan finished with three assists as he tries to get his game going.
The story for the Coyotes was their defense and goaltending once again as Ilya Bryzgalov continues his great play stopping 22 of 23 shots faced. The Bruins only had two power plays in the game but Phoenix killed both of them off while the power play struck twice. I mentioned before that the special teams need to get going for Phoenix and this game shows just how much more dangerous they are when the special teams are clicking. If they want to stay where they are the great special teams need to continue.
Unfortunately for the Coyotes attendance has not been great at the last two home games. Just under 7,000 people showed up for the comeback win over St. Louis and just under 10,000 showed up last night with the Bruins in town. The bright side is that the attendance went up between the two games but realistically that is just not acceptable for a team looking to stay. I am hoping that the city of Phoenix has a change of heart and more people start going to games. Watching this team win is great. If they can keep winning and be a tough team to play against every night then the people will go to the games. If the Arizona Cardinals can turn their situation around then the Phoenix Coyotes most certainly can as well.
Only two games for the Coyotes this week as they are off until Thursday when the Detroit Red Wings come to Phoenix. If attendance is looking to go up then it will for this game as many Red Wings fans always turn out for the Coyotes home games. They finish their week off with a home game against the LA Kings before coming over to New York to play the Rangers.
The Rangers have a little bit of a tougher schedule with three games this week. They host the San Jose Sharks Monday night and the New Jersey Devils on Thursday before heading north of the border once again as they travel to Montreal to face Scott Gomez and the Canadiens.
Who will have the hot hand as we head towards the first clash of the season between my two teams? I have no clue how it will end up but it is distinctly possible that both of these teams will be very hot going into next Monday night at the Garden.