by Patrick Hoffman on 12/15/10 at 11:16 AM ET
If there was ever an opportunity for the New York Rangers to make a statement, tonight’s game against the Pittsburgh Penguins would be it.
The Penguins are coming off a 12-game unbeaten streak where they played some of their best hockey in franchise history. Yes, the team lost it’s winning streak last night when the Philadelphia Flyers beat them 3-2 but that does not erase everything that the Penguins accomplished during their winning streak.
The Rangers simply need to take advantage of the fact that the Penguins are probably still a bit stung from last night’s loss to their arch-rivals and do everything they can to make it a two game losing streak for the home team. With that said, however, it is certainly not going to be an easy thing to accomplish.
Returning to the line-up tonight will be team captain Chris Drury. According to various reports, he will have fourth line duty tonight as team head coach John Tortorella tries to figure out where Drury best fits in the lineup.
Remember, the team has done just fine without their captain. They’ve picked up a bunch of wins, gotten surprising offense throughout the lineup and have also gotten terrific leadership from its young core. This is exactly why Tortorella should not want to mess with the chemistry that the team currently has.
With that said, this game is not all about Drury’s return. It is about a big game against one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference and the NHL.
A win tonight would be a solid start to the Rangers week that also sees them play tomorrow night at home against the Phoenix Coyotes and on Saturday in Philadelphia against the Flyers.
Beginning tonight, six points are on the line and for the Rangers, the only number that matters to them is two.
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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.