The Pregame: Fun! Today’s installment of “Places That Smell” has us visiting the big macher of smells, New York City! Boo-yah!
This is fun because it’s true. The entire place is one massive reek… or, more accurately, hundreds of smaller little reeks. Did you know, for instance, that the five boroughs of New York City were formed not for political reasons, but as a way of keeping one smelly New Yorker from having to endure his pungent neighbors? The subway pretty much put an end to that, and now the whole place stinks like the laundry room in a European hostel. Anyone who’s been in either knows this to be gospel truth.
New Yorkers know this as well, but because they also have the thinnest skins of anyone on the planet, they simply cannot stand to hear others say it. So they will talk (or yell) themselves blue in the face trying to convince you that NYC is the single greatest concentration of fantastical awesomeness in the universe. Ugh, we get it. Face it, New York: you’re needier than a public radio pledge drive.
That said, needy isn’t the first word that comes to mind with the New York Rangers. Maybe shnook is. Or good… like, scary good. They’re 7-2-1 in the last ten (compare with our 4-3-3) with only the Devils yanking their tails, and at 35-13-3 they have fewer loses that anyone else in the NHL.
So what’s their secret, and how do we kick ’em in the kishkes?
1: Road Weariers. They like playing in their own litter box just a tiny bit less than we like playing in ours – and of late, we haven’t even been doing all that great at Verizon. But where they just have us beat cold is on the road. The Blueshirts’ 18-7-3 away record is a near inversion of our 9-14-3, with many of our road wins in Canada, which just feels like it should count a little less or something. By this measure, they have serious advantage over us Sunday.
2: It’s Good To Be King. There’s a reason Henrik Lundqvist is called King, and it isn’t because he won the looks lottery. The Rangers’ goals for/against of 145/106, is one of the best differentials going and the single stingiest net in the NHL, due largely to the herring-gobbler Lundqvist. You think Tomáš Vokoun looks hot at .920%? Try the King’s .936%. Add to this the fact that the Rangers aren’t shooting as well as you might think a top team should, and a forecheck that actually works, and it equals a monster in the twine. Plus, he’s a doodyhead.
3: Can Mike Come Out And Play? The Rangers have their over-achievers (Derek Stepan with 6 points in his last 5, and Marian Gaborik with 27G/21A, plus-16 are but two) and their disappointments (Marc Staal, only recently back on the ice, is 0/0 in his last five outings.) But they are generally a healthy team – that weird hit Fedotenko recently took from his own stick one exception – and even their non-stars like Dan Girardi and Ryan “Shillelagh-Face” McDonagh are playing with star-like abandon.
If only the same could be said about the Caps. Laich’s almost-injury a few days back should have sent shivers through the team. We are thin where it counts most, and don’t seem to be making full use of those who are healthy. In addition to missing a vowel, Hamrlik is also missing opportunities lately, and Carlson seems all but forgotten. (Perhaps he should bring a towel.) And now Knoobs is game-day decision for a healthy scratch.
We really liked what we saw against the Panthers; we really didn’t like what we saw against the Bruins. We liked the Habs game; we hated the Hurricanes. In general, there’s too much uppy-down on the ice; too many fluky shots or lazy first period play. When we decide to dig in and fight back we’re great, but there have just been too many moments when we’ve folded too early. And yes, we’re well aware that these same things have been said countless times before.
The ace up our sleeve? This is the Capitals’ Dads weekend, and the team shipped up by train with all the fathers in tow. We’re thinking that this is a very good thing. It’s one thing to play in front of a house full of fans in red (or shnooks in blue) but entirely something else to play in front of your biggest boosters.
It’ll be hard, and it may be ugly, but Sunday we’re pulling for an upset Caps victory.
In honor of the Caps Casino Night. As we say in the PuckBuddys house, we’d hit that!
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