by Patrick Hoffman on 01/07/11 at 01:30 PM ET
As we head a bit further into the month of January, games start to become increasingly important and points become spared as teams begin to really figure out whether they are a playoff team or not.
Heading into tonight’s game with the Dallas Stars, the New York Rangers currently find themselves seventh in the Eastern Conference with 49 points. They are just one point behind the sixth place Atlanta Thrashers, three points behind the fifth place Washington Capitals and fourth place Philadelphia Flyers and seven points behind the Atlantic Division leading Pittsburgh Penguins.
With all of that in mind, four points are on the line this weekend as the Blueshirts take on the Dallas Stars tonight and the St. Louis Blues tomorrow night. The Stars are currently third in the Western Conference with 52 points while the Blues are seventh in the West with 46 points. As such, these are big games against two playoff calibre hockey teams.
Tonight’s tilt not only marks the return of Sean Avery to Dallas, but also marks the NHL debut of defenseman Ryan McDonagh. As most knowledgeable Ranger/hockey fans are aware, Avery’s time in Dallas wasn’t exactly marked with success and he admitted as much to the New York Post.
“I have to take the major portion of the responsibility for what happened in Dallas,” Avery told The Post on Wednesday. “They gave me a contract to come there and help the team win and when I got there, I didn’t adjust.
“I didn’t adjust to the conditions. I didn’t adjust to Texas as a whole, I didn’t adjust to the team, and when I say the team, I don’t mean the organization, I mean some of the guys in the room.
“I’m responsible 100 percent for that; 100 percent.”
When it comes to McDonagh, it will be interesting to see what he can do at the NHL level. He had a lot of success in college hockey and many in the organization are very high on him. Hopefully, McDonagh will show that he belongs in the league and will show it with solid and consistent play on the ice.
The two-game trip begins tonight in Dallas and with two big points on the line, the Blueshirts will need to bring their ‘A’ game if they want to win.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org.