NEW YORK RANGERS: The Long Road Home For Tex's Rangers Ends Tonight.
You can take the Rangers out of Canada, but the schedule makers aren't letting Canada get away from the Rangers just yet.. After a four game tour of the Great White North, the Toronto Maple Leafs will help the Rangers re-christen their partially renovated, old arena tonight in the Blueshirts' home-ice opener.
Finally, right? Now let's just hope the 7th Avenue road-warriors don't become strangers in their own house. Maybe with a new look to the place, they can start a new trend of playing better Hockey at home. Because if they don't, even with a sprucing up of the joint, the jeering will still sound the same, if not angrier because fans would now be anteing up even more cash to see them stumble at home.
Making a welcome return to the blue line tonight should be Michael Sauer who's been out with a bum shoulder. And while Marc Staal remains sidelined, maybe the Rangers can get back to utilizing more traditional pairings with Sauer back on ice; not to say that we've been defensively challenged lately...
...The Rangers are still waiting for their forward lines to punch through. Punch through? They couldn't stick their way through a wet paper bag right now. So the second call from this blog goes out again: Calling all Forwards! Calling all Forwards! Come in Forward Lines? We need you. Over.
Three things come to mind regarding tonight's first game at MSG-4 1/2. We get to see Ryan Callahan sporting the C on his jersey for the first time. It's been a nice ascension through the ranks from Rookie to Captain for him and for us fans to watch.
Secondly, it's probably best for Brad Richards if this game gets played and put behind him as quickly as possible. He's still yet to provide a glimpse of the play-maker we hopefully signed to a ridonkulously lengthy contract. But having to prove his worth all in one night; the first night at home after seven games of pedestrian play on the road; is probably sixty-minutes I'd rather fast-forward. Then in home-game two with all the extra-fan fare and pomp out of the way, maybe he can finally get around to commanding the first-line and power play for us. But of course in order to make that happen, we must stop committing dumb penalties ourselves. I digress.
The last item to ponder is Marian Gaborik. Is he the scorer from what seems like the ancient past? Or is he still the apparition from last season? And what frame of mind will the fans be in with regard to their phantom forward? Will the Ranger fans show up ready to pounce if he provides flashbacks of the Invisible Man? Will the home crowd make him feel as if he's skating in soup if he looks even slightly ineffective? Or, will True Blue fans attend this home stand with an open mind and risk being pleasantly surprised by letting him play with something to prove without us dumping on him? Then again, since when did four goals in seven games (one of those goals came on the PP) stop Ranger fans from... anything?
We'll see. In the mean time, Calling all Forwards! Your Liege needs help.
The Blueshirts' Odysseus-like odyssey to get home finally ends tonight indeed. But instead of Odysseus reclaiming his queen, the Rangers get us.
Let's go Rangers!
SLAP SHOT: Hey! With an almost one billion dollar renovation under way and the lower bowl work complete, I hope the historically atrocious ice surface at MSG was also studied and addressed. With all that money being spent, and taking into consideration all the reconfiguring MSG's ground floor must undergo to accommodate all the events it hosts, the hope is some new method has been adopted to keep the puck from bouncing around like a Harlem Globe Trotter's prop. Because while what the Globe Trotters do is intended to be funny and entertain millions, many times the old ice surface at MSG just made the Rangers look plain stupid in front of us.
Last Shots of What We Can Officially Now Call - The Old Garden: