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No, there is no Leafs game tonight, but it’s not like you won’t be watching the Rangers take on Buffalo so we thought it might be a good idea to have that game discussion here. You know, sending those positive Leaf vibrations to the Rangers. We will provide all the necessary streams and a preview for your viewing pleasure provided you pick up that Sabres voodoo doll and stick some pins in for a good cause. Just this once, go regulation Rangers!
John Tortorella, the best NHL tyrant in recent years, is at it again. He is in playoff position with a so so Rangers team. He was close last year as well, only to be foiled in the last regular season game of the season that ended in a shootout victory for the Philadelphia Flyers. Missing Marian Gaborik and Alexander Frolov for a large part of the season and Chris Drury, Vinny Prospal for virtually the entire season, Torts has once again relied heavily on his workhorse between the pipes. The Swedish King, Henrik Lundqvist, has so far played 62 games this season. Looking at it, it really is hard to find a goalie in the NHL who fits the description of the workhorse better than this guy. His save percentage is once again among the leagueâ€™s elite (.924) with a GAA of 2.24. His record stands at 33-24-5.
In the absence of the aforementioned offensive stars, Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Callahan have really stepped up and are a big reason why this Rangers team is marching into the postseason. Dubinsky set a new career high in points (51), goals (22) all while playing a responsible game at both ends of the ice and being a factor on special teams. Same can be said about Callahan who thrived in his increased role and with more ice time. Once thought of as a 3rd line utility winger now has an A on his chest and is becoming a big contributor on the NY roster. Big centers Bryan Boyle and Artem Anisimov look to be the difference makers in every game. Sean Avery does what Sean Avery does, we donâ€™t have to like it, but it is helping the Rangers win games. Wojtek Wolski isnâ€™t having a remarkable season, but isnâ€™t hurting the team with his play.
On defence, Lundqvist hasnâ€™t been alone. Marc Staal has scored 7 goals and has 20 assists so far in a mostly shutdown role and is +8 on the season. He also earned Tortorellaâ€™s trust and now has the A to prove it. Dan Girardi is also in the mix, reaching the 30 point plateau this season. The addition of Bryan McCabe (ew!) on the deadline only means good things for their defensive corps.
The Rangers are currently playing their best hockey of the season, earning 17 of the last 20 available points, including five of six last week so letâ€™s hope it continues. I canâ€™t believe Iâ€™m actually rooting for the Rangers for once, but almost anything is better than Buffalo. Yes, even something with McCabe and Avery in it. All in the name of the greater good, right?
The Sabres have been on an unbelievable run of late, 11-4-3 in their last 18 games (the reason why we couldnâ€™t make up any ground) but got grounded last night in the ACC. I suspect Ruff is going to ride Miller for this very vital back to back game, but even if he doesnâ€™t Jhonas Enroth looked like a capable backup so far. As a hockey fan, it really has been remarkable watching Lindy Ruff coach a limited Buffalo team year in and year out. Anybody that claims they are a Sabres fan and at the same time wanted Ruff out, you are not a Sabres fan, or you are a simple minded Sabres fan. That said, hereâ€™s to hoping this game is a nail in his coaching coffin. Tomas Vanek reached his team leading 65 points seemingly out of nowhere and will likely be the most dangerous Sabres forward on the ice tonight along with the diminutive duo of Gerbe and Ennis. Buffalo will likely miss their top scoring Dman Jordan Leopold for this back to back game, and that can only be a good thing for the Leafs.
PREDICTION: 4-2 Rangers win, reasons being the back to back situation for the Sabres, the Rangersâ€™ hot streak and Buffalo missing Jordan Leopold.
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