by Patrick Hoffman on 02/03/11 at 11:00 AM ET
No matter where the teams are in the standings, it is always a good hockey game when it is the New York Rangers vs. the New Jersey Devils.
Tonight’s tilt at Madison Square Garden features two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum. The Blueshirts are fighting in the middle of the pack for a playoff spot while the Devils are out of the playoff picture, despite playing extremely well recently.
The game tonight also marks the return of Rangers’ forward Vinny Prospal. It will be Prospal’s first game of the season and it could not come at a better time as someone needs to help get Marian Gaborik’s game clicking on all cylinders. No one is sure if it is going to be Prospal but given the success the duo had last season, it is not hard to imagine that being the case.
The Blueshirts are coming off a tough 4-3 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night at the Garden. Given that the Penguins were without the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, as well as Jordan Staal for 25 minutes of the game, the Rangers’ should have been able to pick up for two points but had to settle for one.
Looking at the Eastern Conference standings, this is a big game for the Rangers tonight. The Blueshirts currently sit in the seventh spot in the Conference but are just one point behind the sixth place Montreal Canadiens and two points behind the fifth place Washington Capitals.
A win at the Garden tonight would be a good way for the team to go into Montreal Saturday afternoon (2:00 p.m.) for their Original Six matchup with the Canadiens and considering the team does not play that well at the Bell Centre, they could use all the confidence they can get.
One way to do that would be a win tonight against their Hudson River rivals.
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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.