New York Hockey: Joe Thornton

W2W4: Rangers vs. Sharks

March, 11, 2011
Having lost (to put it mildly) in Anaheim Wednesday and with the Buffalo Sabres picking up two points against the Boston Bruins Thursday night, the Rangers are in desperate need of some points when they next suit up Saturday against the San Jose Sharks. Here’s what to watch for when the action starts at the Shark Tank.


Following the loss to Anaheim, the Rangers pretty much admitted they got outworked. My esteemed colleague E.J. Hradek had an interesting theory the other day as to why the Rangers are suddenly hitting a bit of a wall and the wins aren’t coming the way they used to. It’s not that the Rangers haven’t been skating to their full effort level or that they’re particularly fatigued late in the season. Rather, it’s that the rest of the NHL has now raised its compete level to match the Blueshirts down the stretch. Whereas before the Rangers could simply outwork a team who might not have been giving 100 percent, when that factor levels off, talent is shining through. That only makes it more imperative that they don’t back off the throttle against a skill-laden team like the Sharks.

At Least Get To OT

The Rangers now find themselves tied with the Sabres and, pending the outcome of the Carolina Hurricanes’ game against the Washington Capitals Friday night, may find themselves in ninth place Saturday morning. (Teams who have played fewer games are placed higher in the standings.) The Blueshirts need points any way they can get them, a factor that’s given the Sabres and Canes so much help. Buffalo has eight OT losses on the season, while Carolina has 10. The Rangers? Just four. That’s partially because the Rangers tend to win their shootouts, which is good news for getting two points. But, it sure would be nice to at least assure themselves of one.

Gabby Gets His Groove Back?

Marian Gaborik notched a PP goal against Anaheim and looked pretty sharp in the last home game against the Flyers. Maybe the high-flying winger is about to breakthrough and return to his usual high-volume goal-scoring ways. That would certainly be nice, because he’s the only Ranger who can match the talent of Sharks stars Patrick Marleau, Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton.

Eight not great for sinking Isles

November, 11, 2010
The Islanders’ losing streak reached eight games with a 1-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks Wednesday night, and were held goalless despite earning six power plays.

Game Story | Box Score

This was a huge disappointment for the Islanders in the scoring department. In addition to the six power plays, New York faced Anaheim’s back-up goaltender Curtis McElhinney who gave up five goals in each of his previous two starts. Against the Isles, however he earned his first career shutout.

It was the Ducks’ fourth game in six nights and the skaters formerly described as Mighty managed just 14 total shots on goal. Still, it was enough to establish a new low on the Islanders’ eight-game skid, as New York is now tied with the New Jersey Devils and Edmonton Oilers for last in the NHL.

The Islanders did everything they needed to win ... except score. And given all the advantages they enjoyed -- powerplays, a fatigued opponent weak on defense, a backup goalie -- this team has to be asking itself, “if not against the Ducks, then when?”

If the Islanders can’t turn it around soon, it will be time to invoke Jim Mora’s immortal words when discussing the Islanders postseason chances.

The Isles are currently on pace for 55 points this season and need to produce 80 points over their next 67 games in order to reach the 90-point plateau that usually puts teams in the playoff running.

Here’s a look at the aftermath.

Morning Links
  • Lighthouse Hockey writes that the game wasn’t a poor showing, except for the zero in the goals column.
  • Prior to the game, Chris Botta wrote that the Isles did not do enough to add scoring this season if they were serious about making the playoffs. After last night’s game that claim will be hard to dispute.
  • Things won’t get any easier for the Isles when they face the Sharks Thursday night. And they’ll have top-line center Joe Thornton back from suspension. The Isles’ official site has a preview.