Saturday, April 9, 2011
W2W4: Game 82
By Mike Hume
The opponent, the New Jersey Devils, almost doesn't matter. The Rangers need points any way they can get them. With Carolina's win last night it comes down to this: The Blueshirts need to finish the day with more points than the Canes.
Picking up a pair against the Devils would make for a nice start. Particularly considering a loss is regulation and the Rangers' season is over. Here's what to watch for in the Rangers' do-or-die finale.
Simply put, the season of Marian Gaborik has not matched expectations. Thursday, in a game that could be the decisive loss of the season, Gaborik found himself glued to the bench for much of the third period. Is he hurt? Or just not giving 100 percent in John Tortorella's eyes. His performance today should be telling and could be the start of a very interesting summer storyline if he again rides the pine in crunch time.
Deja Vu All Over Again
With last season's playoff fate decided in the shootout, the Rangers are taking no chances this season. Yesterday they recalled shootout ace Mats Zuccarello from Hartford. His five shootout goals this season tie him for fifth overall in that category, along with Erik Christensen. With four shootout goals on the season, Wojtek Wolski figures to round out the first three shooters for John Tortorella.
The Pursuit of Goals
Since a 2-1 shootout loss to Ottawa on March 22, the Rangers have averaged 1.57 goals per game. Against the Devils this season, the Rangers have averaged just over two goals per game (11 in five games). Today's afternoon game would sure be a good time for one of those huge goal-scoring outbursts they've enjoyed this season, like that afternoon game against Edmonton that they won 8-2.