Five Bold Pre-Game Predictions – Rangers vs Bruins 1/23/13
After a pointless two game start to the season, the Rangers may not be in a must-win situation tonight as the host the Bruins at Madison Square Garden, but this is definitely a win-or-you’ll-be-hearing-it-from-the-fans-and-media kind of game. Despite having a similar slow start last year’s extremely successful season, the Blueshirts are already under a character microscope with everyone wondering where the gritty, grinding group of guys we fell in love with last year went off to. Oh that’s right, they signed in Montreal and were traded to Columbus, now I remember. Despite losing some key cogs from last year’s win-machine, Torts and Co. are determined to get back to that relentless playing style as soon as possible – tonight preferably. They need to stiffen up their defensive posture, move the puck better through the neutral zone, and get more shots/bodies to the net if they want to walk out of the arena tonight with two points under their belts. Hank needs to play a solid sixty minutes. Gaborik needs to get on the score sheet. Richards needs to minimize the number of back passes he makes when absolutely no one is there to receive it. Everyone needs to step it up, big time, if they want us fans to forget exactly how spineless they looked on Sunday. Ok, so now we all know what they need to do. But what will they actually do out there on that ice come game time? Click through to check out my five bold pre-game predictions for 1/23/13, the day we learned that, despite common sense and popular opinion, condoms don’t take away from the enjoyment of sex.
1) The Nash-Richards-Gaborik line won’t lights-out amazing. I’ve seen a couple people saying that our All-Star Line (which from now on will be referred to as A/S/L) of Gaborik, Richards and Nash will be making their in-game debut tonight. Obviously this group will have opposing teams shaking in their skates when they see the lineup card, but I’m not sure exactly how effective the line can be this early in the season. Nash is new to the team’s system, Gabby is still shaking the rust off of his recently healed shoulder, and Richards is over-thinking a lot of his moves out there. Even the legally blind can see that there’s not a lot of defensive grit to this group either. I think that Gaborik and/or Nash will score tonight, but their points will be the result of a power play and not due to some semblence of first line cohesion. I’m seeing -1 ratings across the board.
2) The Stars’n'Stripes line of Callahan-Kreider-Stepan, however, will be. The A/S/L line may not have the Garden Faithful rocking tonight, but Line America: Ice Police certainly will. Kreider may have taken a knock at the end of the Pittsburgh game, but by all accounts he’s back at practice and ready to play with the big boys again. Callahan knows that if this team is looking to step up and play a manlier type of game, the task starts with him. None of these guys looked comfortable through the first two games, so let’s see if reuniting the unit that showed some chemistry during last year’s playoffs can help spark the rest of the team. I’m seeing a goal each for Cally and Stepan with Kreider racking up two assists.
3) Vintage Lundqvist will make Lundqvist “cool” again. Let’s be real here for a second – new fathers aren’t cool. They look totally sleep deprived, they can’t go out and party like they used to, and they stink like a dirty diaper. Lundy’s newborn daughter may be the blessing of a lifetime for Hank and the Misses, but Rangers fans will be cursing her soul for eternity if she’s the reason our goalie goes from light’s out to red light on in just one season. I think we’ll see an angry King tonight. He doesn’t care how “highlight-reel” his saves are; he just wants to win. I’m seeing 35 saves and a near perfect game from last year’s Vezina winner. In fact, whatever new hat the team is giving out after wins this season, I’m betting he’s the first to wear it.
4) Bickel will be a much better forward than he is a defenseman. Sounds like Asham will be out of tonight’s lineup with a slight groin tweak, so sliding up into a forward spot will be Stu Bickel. After getting absolutely smoked by the Penguins on Sunday night, I think we’ll see a much better game from Bickel tonight as he joins Rupp and Halpern on the fourth line. I don’t think he’ll do anything exciting or produce any points per se, but given the position it’s less likely that he gets blown by as the opposing team skates in and scores on a two-one-one. That’s improvement in my book. Also wouldn’t be stunned if he fought again. Lord knows Rupp won’t…
5) Rangers win 4-1. Tied at one after the first, up by one after the second and sending the crowd home happy with an empty net late in the third. Gaborik, Callahan, Stepan and Boyle (EN) will get the goals. Toughness will be displayed, dominance will be asserted, and all who watch will tremble at the team in royal blue. Hell, we’ll play so well they might even consider awarding us the two points from Saturday as a bonus. That’s how impressive tonight’s effort will be…
Pre-Game Jam: Muse – Supremacy
Let’s hope we can assert some supremacy of our own tonight with a game that’s as crunchy as that main guitar riff. LGR!