Sunday, November 15, 2009

Duty Calls

As I noted in an earlier post, which seems like forever ago, school is getting busy which is the reason for the lack of posts. I apologize for this once again.
But a quick look at how the two main teams on this blog are doing.
It has been a rough go for the New York Rangers who have lost both Chris Drury and Brandon Dubinsky to injuries which will keep them out. Dubinsky has a broken hand and has 4 to 6 weeks to rest while Chris Drury's concussion symptoms will keep him out for an undetermined amount of time. With this new problem at center speculation by Ranger fans includes trading for a center or signing someone like Peter Forsberg.
Either way the Blueshirts will have to find a way to survive these next few weeks short changed down the middle where it was thought depth was not a problem. Vinny Prospal, Artem Anisimov, and Brian Boyle are the three natural centers left on the team right now. Christopher Higgins filled in at center yesterday against the Senators. Despite no points in the matchup, it seemed to do well. However offense needs to pick up from other sources than Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal. Losing a setup man like Dubinsky will severely increase that need but it is now a chance for young players like Anisimov and Boyle to show what they can do in a prime role.
The other issue for the Rangers is faceoffs. With Drury and Dubinsky out two of their top three faceoff men are gone leaving a void. Boyle and Higgins were not very good and it did not make things any easier for New York. Their next game is Tuesday night as Alexander Ovechkin is supposed to return when the Washington Capitals visit Madison Square Garden.
On the other side of the country the Phoenix Coyotes are right in the middle of the Western Conference after a big win at home Saturday night against the division rival Dallas Stars. The last few games have been up and down with injuries to Ed Jovanovski and Zbynek Michalek hurting the defense corps as Phoenix has won only two of their last six games.
The key to Phoenix's success this season has been the stellar play of Ilya Bryzgalov who was the third star for the month of October. With two defensemen out like Michalek and Jovanovski, he is even more important. The offense has not been able to muster more than three goals in a game since October 28th against Columbus. It is true that the system Phoenix is defensive in nature but they will need more production. Peter Mueller must get going as he is being relied on to provide a spark to the team offensively.
Their next game is tonight as they host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Both are young teams with a few veterans to lead the way. They are up and coming and aggressive which will make for a very interesting matchup. Phoenix will definitely want a win before going on a tough stretch where they play five of seven games on the road. Tough matchups in places like Minnesota, Calgary, and St. Louis await them there with one of the home games against the Philadelphia Flyers.

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