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Scouting the Enemy: New York Rangers

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Record: 17-8-2

Leading scorers: Nikolai Zherdev (8G, 15A, 23pts), Markus Naslund (9G, 11A, 20pts)

Blogs: NY Rangers Blog | Beyond the Blueshirts

Unfortunately this game is in New York, so we run a 50/50 chance of seeing that stupid stick raise crap when all is said and done.  Besides, this is a retribution game for the last meeting on October 25 and the Penguins are now the ones making third period comebacks.

The Rangers are atop the Atlantic Division, have yet to lose 10 games and have played three or four more games than every other team in the division.  Call it bitterness, stubbornness - call it what you will.  But I refuse to accept this team as "good."

The Blueshirts are 3-3 over the last six games, with their most recent loss coming to the Florida Panthers.  A shutout I might add.  4-0.

When Henrik Lundqvist isn't busy pulling himself from the game he's actually pretty solid between the pipes and has definitely had some great shows this year.  Yet I look over the Rangers' schedule and fail to see a team that has really challenged them; Penguins included in that last disaster.

Take the month of November, for example.  The Rangers went 7-6-1 against teams like the Panthers (1-1), Lightning (2-0) and Senators (1-1).  Yet when the going gets tough and they actually play a decent team, that's when we see the Rangers' true form.  Actually wait - no we don't.  Because New York's November schedule was a cake walk.  Next to Vancouver, Washington and Boston (loss-loss-win, respectively) the schedule was weak.  Obviously their success rate against good teams is evident in that record alone.  Even the win over Boston was a 3-2 squeaker.

Tonight the Penguins will test the Rangers.  And there won't be any last minute heroics from Nikolai Zherdev to save them this time.  Unless of course, the Rangers feel the recent line swaps will benefit them immediately.