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Game Day: Gaborik Returns To Minnesota
It's sure to be an emotional night as Marian Gaborik returns to Minnesota


Marian Gaborik


Marian Gaborik

Rangers @ Wild

Xcel Energy Center, 8:00 p.m. tonight

Rangers record: 10-9-1

Wild record: 10-6-2

 

That impressive three-game win streak is now ancient history as the Rangers have lost two in a row and were beaten badly by the Colorado Avalanche last night.  The good thing about such a jam-packed schedule is that the Blueshirts will have a chance to make everyone forget their abysmal effort last night with a win over the Minnesota Wild tonight. 

The Wild, picked by many to be cellar dwellers in the Western Conference, are off to a surprising start this season.  They’ve won three in a row including two consecutive overtime victories over Anaheim and Detroit.  The Wild have been boosted by perhaps the best special teams in the league thus far, they’re ranked first on the power play which is scoring at a 27.8% clip and ninth on the penalty kill.  The Wild are third in goals against overall on the shoulders of yet another strong season from Niklas Backstrom, who’ll get the start tonight.  Cal Clutterbuck, though more known for his physicality, leads the team in goals with seven and is followed by Brent Burns with six and Antti Miettinen with five.  Though the Wild don’t have a true superstar on offense, they are a hard working bunch and have impressive depth.  Mikko Koivu, Martin Havlat and Matt Cullen are all experienced and good playmakers.  The Wild’s reputation over the last decade has been a hard-nosed group that plays tight defense and never makes things easy for the opponent.  That appears to be true again in 2010.  There’s nothing flashy about the defense either; Burns, Marek Zidlicky, Nick Schultz, Cam Barker and the rest aren’t household names, and aren’t likely All-Star candidates, but they’re a mobile bunch.  Still, as successful as the Wild have been this season, they’re only 27th in the league in goals scored, so if Henrik Lundqvist plays well tonight this should be a low scoring affair.

For the Rangers, this game is about the return of Marian Gaborik (who missed last year’s bout with the Wild due to injury) and Derek Boogaard to Minnesota.  This is sure to be an emotional night for Gaborik, but it’s a good bet that he’ll respond with a monster effort.  Last night’s match with the Avalanche was forgettable on all counts, and the Rangers would be best served to quickly put it behind them and get back to the play that won them three in a row and almost a fourth if Tim Thomas didn’t steal the game Wednesday night.  To beat the Wild the Rangers must play smart.  Obviously, taking a penalty against the Wild is the kiss of death.  The team can’t score at even strength, but give them a man advantage and the puck will be in the back of your net.  So while the Rangers need to be smart about taking penalties every game, tonight they need to be extra careful.  Because if they stay out of the box, there’s a very good chance Gaborik puts one home tonight and the Rangers could be looking at a 1-0 or 2-1 win.  Of course, that means the Rangers will need a much better effort from Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers’ defense.  It’s hard to say that any of the goals against Hank last night were all his fault, but at the top of his game he probably stops two of them.  We’re nearing the time of year when Lundqvist has traditionally entered a bit of a slump.  It’s too early to tell if that’s happening, but there have been a few questionable goals against him lately.  You’d have to think Lundqvist, who is notoriously hard on himself, is very frustrated with how things have gone lately for him.  Since the team has been doing well, it hasn’t become a major issue yet, but to stop questions from being raised Lundqvist needs to put a couple strong games together.  The Wild would appear to be a good candidate for a bounce back effort with their weak even strength offense, but it’s up to Lundqvist to make key saves.

The recipe for this one is simple: stay out of the box, let Gaborik remind Minnesota who he is, and Lundqvist has to play well.  If the Rangers do those things they should return to the win column.  

 

Posted by Kevin Baumer | November 20, 2010 at 02:45 pm
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New York Rangers VS Philadelphia Flyers
Thursday, April 17, 2014

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 1 0 3 - 4
Flyers 1 0 0 - 1








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