View Full Version : New York Rangers (16-7-2) at Florida Panthers (8-11-2)

11-28-2008, 07:20 PM
By Jim Cerny, newyorkrangers.com

After spending quality time together at a Thanksgiving team dinner on Thursday night in South Florida, the Rangers return to action this evening looking for a sweep of their two-game swing through the Sunshine State when they visit the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center.

This is the second year in a row that the Rangers traveled south to face the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Panthers in games that sandwich Thanksgiving. Last season, the Rangers earned three of four standings points by defeating the Lightning and then losing in the shootout to the Panthers.

Rangers defenseman Michal Rozsival is coming off one of his best games of the season on Wednesday in Tampa. Rozsival assisted on two goals and finished the night with a plus-1 rating.
The Rangers began this current swing through Florida by skating to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Lightning on Wednesday night. And this evening the Eastern Conference-leading Rangers will look to snag two more points when they face off against a Panthers team that is tied for last place in the East.

In between the two games in the Sunshine State, the Rangers spent time together taking part in a team dinner to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. It is something that head coach Tom Renney believes is an important part of the team bonding process.

“Being on the road as the New York Rangers, trying to get points with a bit of a break in between games, gives us the chance to come together again and enjoy some dinner, have some laughs, and tighten the bond some more,” said Renney. “This is a good group that really has a lot of fun together, and this is our first chance since Prague to kind of get away on the road.”

Though the players and coaches are away from their families during the holiday, there is much benefit to sharing in the camaraderie that comes with being amongst friends and teammates, with those benefits reaped throughout the long course of the regular season and playoffs.

“It’s unfortunate that we don’t get to spend (Thanksgiving) with our families, but it’s real nice to do it with our second families here,” noted veteran center Blair Betts. “It’s important to share that team dinner and enjoy ourselves as a group.”

Right now the Rangers are enjoying a tremendous start to the 2008-09 season, one that has seen the Blueshirts atop the Eastern Conference nearly every day over the first two months. After slipping two points behind the Boston Bruins, the Blueshirts responded with back-to-back wins over Phoenix and Tampa Bay earlier this week to vault back into sole possession of first place with 34 points.

Markus Naslund led the way on Wednesday night in Tampa, scoring a pair of second-period goals to go along with a score in the opening round of the shootout. Naslund now has three goals in his last three games, and a team-high nine on the season. He also has points in four consecutive games, and has notched seven points in his last 8 matches.

“It was a nice win for us,” stated Naslund. “Hopefully we can get some momentum here and put a string together.”

While Nikolai Zherdev (two assists and a stunning fight with Steve Stamkos), Michal Rozsival (two assists and solid defensive play in 22:54 worth of ice time), and Henrik Lundqvist (27 saves and 2-for-2 in the shootout) also played big roles in Wednesday’s victory, a tip of the cap should also be made to the penalty killers, who turned in another clutch performance.

The Rangers PK unit, second in the league with an 89.6 percent success rate, did surrender one goal on Wednesday, but the penalty killers thrived in the clutch -- denying three Lightning power plays in the third period while clinging to a one-goal lead. It is the type of performance that has become commonplace -- and a big part of the success -- for the Rangers so far this season.

“Our goaltending has obviously been a big part of our success killing penalties,” said Betts, who is one of the key regulars on the PK unit. “But it is something that we all take pride in, no matter who is out there killing the penalties at any given time. It’s been working out really well.”

Tonight, the Rangers skate against the Panthers for the first time this season, after going 2-1-1 against them a year ago. Florida has a minus-12 goal differential, scoring only 48 times in 21 games, while surrendering 60 goals. And veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun has struggled with a 3.01 goals against average to go along with his 5-10-0 record.

One bright spot for the Panthers has been the play of 24-year-old winger David Booth who, coming off a 22-goal campaign a year ago, has already notched 11 goals this season. Booth has been hot as of late, with goals in three straight games, and seven scored in his last eight matches.

Coming off of a 3-2 loss in overtime to the Devils on Wednesday, the Panthers have won only once in their last four matches. The Panthers are 4-6-2 in the month of November, while the Rangers are 6-5-1 this month. The two teams will close out November with a home-and-home set, with tonight’s game in Sunrise, Florida to be followed by a Sunday matinee at Madison Square Garden.

After the two contests against the Panthers, the Rangers open up the December portion of their schedule with an important home game on Wednesday at MSG against the Penguins, to be followed by another difficult conference matchup in Montreal against the Canadiens on Thursday.

I'm looking forward to seeing if Rosival can keep it up after a terrific game on Wed. Not sure if Prucha will be in the lineup tonight. If he is, it will be his last chance to prove himself. also excited to see Zherdev after watching his finesse playmaking and scrapping with a fellow #1 pick.

11-29-2008, 10:23 AM
A sweep of the Panthers. This Rangers team isnt dominant but they give a solid effort most nights. They also really play as a 5 man team. I have to respect that.

11-29-2008, 07:51 PM
it wasn't pretty..but l'll take the win......turn-over's galore.....l love "Zherdev", but come on..those turn-over's in neutral ice is going to kill us against the better teams.......l would like to see someone else other than Callahan on the first line..someone with some finish....maybe "Sundin"....Any thoughts?????

11-29-2008, 10:25 PM
Let's not even go there. For 3 straight games, Rosival is play as we all expected him to this season. Kalinin is horrible though. He is the reason why Rosival was bad recently, because he was trying to pick up Kalinin's slack. seperating them is the best thing that could have happened. But we don't vent about Kalinin because he only makes 2.1 mil. It's not right.

11-29-2008, 11:21 PM
Hopefully Roszival continues his good play the rest of the year. maybe his offseason surgery contributed to the poor play. :shrug:

King Henrik
11-30-2008, 05:59 PM
wow today's game was ugly ugly ugly

11-30-2008, 06:35 PM
:mad:lt's remarkable to think the opponents we have lost to...Take a look at these teams...Anything unusual ???? - Florida, Toronto, lslander's, Dallas, Ottawa, Buffalo, Edmonton,..Hmmm...if the play-off's started today..none of these teams would be thier !!!!! Could you imagine, if we would have won half these games...and could you imagine if we had descent powerplay ???? Well, l guess the next two games will tell us something..Pittsburgh, Montreal....Let's see what we're made of !!!!