by Patrick Hoffman on 01/13/11 at 12:30 PM ET
Games against playoff-caliber hockey teams are always challenges for any hockey club.
Tonight will be no different as the New York Rangers get set to take on not only a playoff-caliber hockey club, but a team that is first in the entire National Hockey League in the Vancouver Canucks at Madison Square Garden.
The Canucks are coming off a shootout victory over the New York Islanders while the Blueshirts will try and bounce back from a 2-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.
The Rangers battled hard in their last game but were just not able to finish when it mattered most. This is something the team cannot afford to do tonight as the Canucks boast an extremely offensively-talented team that has the ability to score in bunches.
With that said, however, the Blueshirts need to be extremely careful and not get into a run and gun game with the Sedin twins (Henrik and Daniel) and the rest of their Canuck mates. While the Rangers have a solid defensive corps, one cannot be sure that they, along with all-star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, can handle what the Canucks have to throw at them.
It will be interesting to see how Rangers’ forward Wojtek Wolski does in his second game as a Blueshirt. In the loss to the Canadiens on Tuesday night, he definitely showed that he has a lot of skill and can do a lot of different things with the puck.
However, when Wolski was given a big opportunity to put the puck in the net in the third period, his shot hit off the post and was cleared from the crease by a Canadiens’ defender. To succeed in New York, Wolski will need to start showing that he can put the puck in the net and produce offensively in other ways as well.
Speaking of Wolski, it will also be interesting to see how his linemate Marian Gaborik plays with the Rangers’ newest forward. If the Blueshirts want to continue to have success going forward, Gaborik needs to start putting the puck in the net on a more consistent basis.
This is a big tilt for the Blueshirts tonight, folks. If they can come away with two points, it could go a long way in proving that the Rangers’ could make some noise come playoff time.
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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 email@example.com.