Michael Del Zotto

Weekly Preview: October 9th – 15th

Well the first week of the 2009-10 season is in the books, and the Rangers trumped our prediction of a 2-2-0 record, by beating the Capitals last night in Washington. Still, we did get the first three right, and the extra win isn’t anything to cry about.

For Week 2, the Rangers return home for a three game homestand over a four night period. The Blueshirts face their first Western Conference opponents in the Ducks and Kings, sandwiched around the first meeting of the season with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sunday October 11th vs. Anaheim Ducks (1-1-1) – 5:00pm MSG
Since changing their name from the Mighty Ducks, Anaheim has won a cup, but only managed a 1-3 record against the Rangers, their one win coming two seasons ago at MSG. The Rangers hold a three game winning streak and are 1-0-0 at home so far this year, while the Ducks are 1-0-1 on the road so far this year.

The retooled Ducks are of course missing Chris Pronger – traded last year to the Flyers – but have welcomed back Joffrey Lupul and have added blueliners Ryan Whitney, Nick Boynton and James Wisniewski, as well as forward Evgeny Artyukhin since the last time these two teams met.

Jonas Hiller has started in three of the four game in net, ahead of J-S Giguere and has a 1-1 record with .930 save percentage and a 2.50 GAA.

For the Rangers, the hot players are Marian Gaborik – points in four straight games – and rookie blueliner Michael Del Zotto – points in three straight games. Neither team has played for the Rangers against the Ducks, though Gaborik has faced the team five times in the last three seasons, scoring twice and adding a helper.

Monday October 12th vs. Toronto Maple Leafs (0-1-2) – 7:00pm MSG
An OT loss to the Maple Leafs last season cost Tom Renney his job. They then handed John Tortorella a shootout loss in his first game behind the bench. Both games were ones that the Rangers were expected to win, as will be the case on Monday despite a three game losing streak to their opponents (0-1-2).

The Leafs are going through a period of rebuilding and have little in the way of offensive fire power up front, though they are well stocked on the blueline. The case hasn’t been helped by long term injuries to Phil Kessel (shoulder), Jonas Gustavsson (groin) and Mike Van Ryn (knee).

Leading the offense have been Matt Stajan (3 goals), Alex Ponikarovsky (2 goals and an assist), Tomas Kaberle (3 assists) and Mikhail Grabovsky (1 goal, 2 assists). In net, Vesa Toskala has a .800 save percentage and a less than impressive 4.97 GAA, while the injured Gustavsson has modestly better stats of .894 and 3.08 respectively.

For the Rangers, Sean Avery has had some success for the Blueshirts against Toronto. The Grate One has registered 3 goals and 3 assists in just three games against the Leafs. Michal Rozsival also has 2 goals and 7 assists in 15 match-ups.

In net, Henrik Lundqvist has not had a good run vs. Toronto, going 4-6 with stats of .879 and 3.26. Stephen Valiquette by contrast has had some success, going 3-0 including a shutout to pick up stats of .919 and 2.23.

Tuesday October 14th vs. Los Angeles Kings (2-1-0) – 7:00pm MSG
The Rangers wrap up their week with a visit from the Kings. Los Angeles has gotten off to a fast start offensively, scoring 15 goals in their first three games. The defense and goaltending haven’t been nearly as impressive, with 13 goals given up.

Slovenian native Anze Kopitar has an impressive 8 points (3 goals and 5 assists) to pace LA, while new acquisition Ryan Smyth has added another 6 points (3 goals and 3 assists).

In net, 23 year old Jonathan Quick has won 2 of his 3 starts, but has allowed 13 goals on 88 shots for stats of .852 and 4.34.

Surprisingly the Rangers haven’t beaten the Kings in regulation since 2001, and have a 2-4-0 record since – both wins coming in overtime. You have to go back to November 11th, 2000 to find the last regulation win over the Kings at MSG, a trend the Blueshirts will no doubt look to be reversing.

Henrik Lundqvist is 0-2 lifetime against the Kings and has allowed 15 goals in his three appearances. Stephen Valiquette picked up the OT win against LA last season, and might get a chance to start against them again this year.

Summary
It’s tempting to suggest the Rangers will go 3-0 in this stretch, there’s certainly reasons why you’d expect them to clean up. However, a second set of three games in four nights so early in the season and a potential bruising encounter against the Maple Leafs’ defense mean that we’re projecting wins against Anaheim (shootout) and Toronto, but a loss to the Kings to close out the week.

Top 3 scorers from the past week
1. Marian Gaborik – 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists)
2. Brandon Dubinsky – 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists)
2. Michael Del Zotto – 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists)
2. Vaclav Prospal – 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists)

Season leaders
1. Marian Gaborik – 6 points (4 goals, 2 assists)
2. Brandon Dubisnky – 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists)
2. Michael Del Zotto – 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists)
2. Vaclav Prospal – 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists)
5. Ales Kotalik – 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist)

Goaltending from the past week
Henrik Lundqvist 3-1-0 .917 2.57

Season Goaltending
Henrik Lundqvist 3-1-0 .917 2.57

Special Teams
Power Play: 3 for 20 (15.0 – 25th)
Penalty Kill: 18 for 21 (85.7 – 6th) one shorthanded goal

Injuries
Sean Avery missed all four games with an MCL injury suffered during a preseason practice. Hopes to be back for Sunday.

Ryan Callahan hurt his back in practice on Thursday, but dressed for the game.

Transactions
October 8th – Evgeny Grachev called up from Hartford

Standings
After the first week the Rangers also are tied for first in the East with a 3-1-0 record and six points. Too bad the other two teams with six points are the Penguins and Flyers.

۞ EASTERN CONFERENCE
#TeamGPWLOTGFGAPtsAGFAGAWPProj�
1Philadelphia Flyers4310171264.253.000.750123�
2Washington Capitals4211181554.503.750.625103�
3Montreal Canadiens4220101542.503.750.50082�
4New York Rangers4310141063.502.500.750123�
5Pittsburgh Penguins4310121263.003.000.750123�
6Atlanta Thrashers220010545.002.501.000164�
7Ottawa Senators32107842.332.670.667109�
8Buffalo Sabres21013331.501.500.750123�
9Florida Panthers21104722.003.500.50082�
10New York Islanders20025722.503.500.50082�
11Boston Bruins312091223.004.000.33355�
12New Jersey Devils312081122.673.670.33355�
13Carolina Hurricanes312041021.333.330.33355�
14Tampa Bay Lightning301271222.334.000.33355�
15Toronto Maple Leafs302181212.674.000.16727�
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