Return of the Broadway Blueshirts

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Tonight the New York Rangers make their first visit to GM Place since November 2002, a game the Canucks won 3-1. (Thanks, again, to Gary Bettman’s ‘new’ NHL and its eschewal of inter-conference play.)

Interestingly enough, in fact, the Rangers haven’t won a hockey game in Vancouver since October 1997, when a Wayne Gretzkey hat trick propelled the Broadway Blueshirts to a 3-2 victory.

Fortunately for the Canucks, the prospects for continued success against the Rangers at home are promising. The Rangers, who hardly ever play outside their own timezone, are in the middle of a western Canadian roadtrip; they played (and lost) last night against the Calgary Flames; and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist continues to play poorly (2-3-1 with a 3.75 goals-against average in his last six games).

Meanwhile, the Canucks have been off since a New Year’s Eve loss to Calgary, allowing banged up players such as Ryan Kesler (concussion) some much needed rest and recovery time, and don’t play again after tonight until the New York Islanders visit next Tuesday.

In other words, at least if we want to play the percentages, the Rangers are ripe for the picking.

At the end of the season, it is what you do with the points you should take off the opposition (e.g., games played at home against teams that are on the back-end of back-to-back road games on consecutive nights) that ultimately determines where you stand in the playoff picture.

One thing I would dearly like to see tonight is the Raymond-Jaffray-Pyatt line bury some of their chances. Make no mistake, the Canucks recently formed second line has generated an impressive amount of offensive opportunities; still, finish around the net has been lacking recently.

I suspect that if they score tonight, the Canucks will win the game. (How is that for my bold predicition?) And, with the Flames on fire these days and the Wild maintaining a consistent level of success, it is important that they do in order to keep apace of the battle atop the Northwest division.

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