Game 8 Preview: Rangers at Lightning

"Oh hey 'Michael Jordan of Hockey,' hey!"

“Oh hey ‘Michael Jordan of Hockey,’ hey!”

Stamkos.

St. Louis.

Lecavalier.

Conacher???

The Rangers head to the sunshine state to take on the offensive juggernaut Tampa Bay Lightning. The (6-1) Bolts have scored 37 goals so far this year for an average of 5.3 goals per game. Those are Gretzky-Oilers numbers. By contrast, the (3-4) Rangers have scratched and clawed for a measly 16 goals through their first seven games. A paltry 2.3 goals per game average.

The NYR will have their hands full trying to contain the Lightning’s big three, but they can’t sleep on Teddy Purcell and must pay special attention to Buffalo Wings alum and leading Rookie of the Year candidate Cory Conacher. The former roller hockey stud is lighthing it up this year. Conacher, unlike, I don’t know – Chris Kreider, has been able to just play so far this short season and the results have been impressive. Mistakes are mistakes, young players will make them, but when the leash is so tight around a young players neck that they are afraid to do anything put get the puck out of the zone and then get off the rink, their development is delayed, stunted and blocked. The 5’8″ (on his skates, maybe) Conacher has been allowed to play his game and learn from Martin St. Louis, possibly the best small player in league history. The 6’3″ Kreider who should be allowed to play his game while learning from/emulating the prototypical power forward with whom he shares a locker room. But instead of sponging everything he can from Mr. Nash, Kreider is left to- truth is, I don’t know what the NYR are doing with Kreider. It doesn’t seem like they have a development plan for him. But on a team that is dying for goals, his talent should be allowed to blossom like it was in last year’s playoffs and not over-coached.

Cory Conacher, lighting it up on both wheels and blades.

Cory Conacher, lighting it up on both wheels and blades.

One final point. Its an interesting contrast to see Torts, who won the 2004 Cup as the coach of the “Safe is Death” Lighting morph into the coach of the “Let’s collapse in on Lundqvist, block a ton of shots, hope Hank keeps it to one against, and hope we eek out a goal or two” Rangers.

Keys to the game:

- Eliminate stupid penalties (hey coach, hey!) and keep TBL off the PP.
- Find some kind of power play (hey coach, hey!)
- Apply some forecheck pressure to the Lightning D (hey forwards, hey!)
- Find some offense (hey, B-Rich, Rick Nasty, Step, Boyle’s ass, Hags, hey!)
- Rick Nash has 1 more goal than I do this season. Stepan, Boyle, Hagelin and I are all tied.
That has to change, and fast.

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