How far will the Rangers get this season?

Game Day: Rangers Head West To Visit The Avs
The Blueshirts will be tested by one of the league's youngest forward groups

Can Brandon Dubinsky be stopped?

Can Brandon Dubinsky be stopped?

After their three-game win streak was stopped in its tracks by Tim Thomas and the Boston Bruins on Wednesday, the Rangers look to get back in the win column with the first of three games against Western Conference foes, the first two on the road, with tonight’s matchup with the Colorado Avalanche.

Many expected the Avalanche to fall back to the pack this season after a surprising playoff berth in 2009-10, but the Avalanche has picked up where they left off and played well even in the absence of star goalie Craig Anderson.  The bad news for the Rangers is that Anderson, who has been out since October 23, will be making his return tonight.  He wasn’t off to a terrific start this season but there’s no doubt that Anderson almost single-handedly carried the Avalanche at times last season.  The team has an enviable collection of cheap young forwards, but it gave up a ton of shots against last season.  Anderson bailed the over-eager forwards and aging defense out time and time again.  The Avs are lead offensively by Chris Stewart, who came out of nowhere last season and already has 11 goals and 11 assists this season.  Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny are also very reliable for the Avs, and they have terrific secondary scoring from David Jones, Daniel Winnik, Ryan O’Reilly, T.J. Galiardi, Brandon Yip and Kevin Porter.  Matt Duchene, the third overall selection in the ’09 draft has had a disappointing start to the season, and was even benched a couple weeks ago.  On defense the Avs are led by the ever-reliable, and nasty, Adam Foote, Scott Hannan, and John-Michael Liles who’s having the best season of his career.  The Avs defense has been decimated by injuries lately and the team recently called up top prospect Kevin Shattenkirk and acquired Ryan O’Byrne from the Montreal Canadiens.  Colorado is coming off wins over St. Louis and San Jose and ranks fourth in the league in goals scored, ninth on the power play, 22nd in goals against, and 28th on the penalty kill.  Obviously the team will look to Anderson to remedy the team’s leaky defensive issues.

The Rangers could have easily won their fourth in a row over Boston on Wednesday, but the fantastic goaltending of Tim Thomas held the Blueshirts without a point.  Still, the team has shown very encouraging signs lately and is getting closer to full strength with Marian Gaborik back in the lineup and Chris Drury a couple weeks away.  It appears likely that Derek Stepan, who has been much better recently, will center Marian Gaborik and Alex Frolov.  The Dubinsky/Anisimov/Callahan line will of course be intact, followed by Prust/Boyle/Fedotenko and Avery/Christensen/and either Derek Boogaard or Todd White.  The Blueshirts have played good enough defense and scored enough lately to keep them in every game, but what’s really been on display is this team’s character.  Sunday’s brawl didn’t deter the team; they scored three in a row right after.  Monday’s awful referring didn’t stop them, they answered back with a late goal and a winner in overtime.  And Wednesday’s brick wall opponent got the winning decision, but the Rangers fought till the end.  Indeed, this is not an easy club to play against anymore.  If the Avalanche think Anderson’s return will be enough to beat the Rangers, they’ll be sadly mistaken.

These teams are evenly matched in the standings, but the Rangers will be looking to avenge a 3-1 home loss to Colorado on October 18.  They played that game without Gaborik, Drury, or Prospal, so things could be a little different this time around.  The Rangers need to capitalize on the horrible penalty killing of the Avalanche and must kept their speedy forwards to the outside.  New York was also victimized by Chris Stewart in front of the net in the first matchup of the season and must protect the crease. 


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New York Rangers VS Chicago Blackhawks
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 3 0 0 - 3
Blackhawks 1 1 0 - 2

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