by Patrick Hoffman on 11/07/09 at 09:37 PM ET
So far, it has been a mediocre trip through Western Canada for the New York Rangers. They were beaten by the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Tuesday night and beat a struggling Edmonton Oilers team 4-2 on Thursday night.
Tonight, the Blueshirts look to beat the Calgary Flames at the Pengrowth Saddledone, an area in which the team has struggled over the last decade or so. If the Rangers can win tonight, they’ll increase their point total to 23 and be one point behind the Eastern Conference-leading Pittsburgh Penguins.
Every point is important in the “new” NHL. With shootouts being added to the game, any team (the slightly below average, average, and above average) has the ability to give themselves a chance to make the postseason. That certainly proved to be true for the Rangers last season as their month of October in 2008 really gave them a solid cushion.
For the Rangers, may be Thursday night was the kind of game they needed to get back on the right track. They got a strong performance out of their backup netminder Steve Valiquette, played a solid game defensively and finally generated some offense, something that head coach Tom Renney was probably surprised at given what he could not do with the team last season.
It was also nice to see Christopher Higgins get his second goal of the season (two goals in two games now) and Ryan Callahan be rewarded for his efforts on Thursday night in Edmonton. The team also got solid games from both Ales Kotalik and Marian Gaborik.
Let’s see if the team can carry that effort into tonight’s tilt against the Flames.
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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.