BRONX, NY – Happy New Year, Mattsville. I’m back with another Rangers update. The Blueshirts have sputtered a bit at home, but they’ve found their road form of late. During the holiday period they won big road games in Phoenix and Denver. They came home and laid an egg against DJ Eberle’s Buffalo
Bills Sabres, before beating a tough Philadelphia Flyers team on the road Wednesday night. The Broadway Blues have been scoring goals in droves on the road, scoring six in each of the games against the Coyotes and Avalanche, before adding another five Wednesday night in Philthy Philly.
I made the trip out to Phoenix and Denver to watch the Blueshirts. You may think I’m crazy, and you’re probably right. A normal person probably wouldn’t fly out to the desert to watch a hockey game. But there were a lot of Rangers fans that either made the journey or have moved out west permanently. And they all came out for both games. The arena in Phoenix was about 40% Blueshirts faithful and three in ten in Colorado were clad in blue sweaters. It was a wonderful sight. Rangers fans travel well. “Potvin Sucks” chants were everywhere. The other road games I’ve been to outside of the northeast (Anaheim and Los Angeles last season) were no different. If New York is in town, there will be plenty of blue, red, and white tops in the crowd.
The Rangers have a tough one in Columbus Saturday night before they get a much needed six-day break. Then they host the Maple Leafs next Friday before heading up to Montreal for one of their yearly Saturday night soirees in Montreal. I’m going to that game also (it’s a sickness, I know). The Rangers have managed to keep pace with the red-hot Blue Jackets and Pittsburgh Penguins while battling some key injuries. They should be close to full strength after the upcoming “bye week”.
Mika Zibanejad is skating again after his broken leg. He’s close to the end of the 4-6 week recovery period and could be back in the lineup next week. Rick Nash and Pavel Buchnevich are also just about healthy and could play Saturday in Columbus. The Blue Jackets just had their 16-game win streak broken by the Washington Capitals (5-0!) last night, but they’re still a very dangerous team. Expect a fiery and physical game Saturday night. BJ’s coach John Tortorella will make sure of that. He’ll be looking to make the Rangers pay for Thursday night’s broken plates.
The Metropolitan Division is deep this year. Viggy’s Troops have 55 points and are in third place in the division. By comparison, the Chicago Blackhawks have 51 points and lead the entire Western Conference. The Rangers will have to play well the second half of the season to keep pace. Things should get better once the Blueshirts are healthy. We’ll start to see that this weekend.
Hopefully the squad can stay healthy the rest of the way. Henrik Lundqvist is returning to form after a poor run of games. He kept the Rangers in the game against the Flyers until the offence (Canadian spelling) could take over. Things are looking good for the Broadway Blueshirts.
That’s all for me today. Feel free to weigh in below and come back for the Mr. Du Jour! And please follow us on Twitter @MeetTheMatts, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.