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Up next: Sean Avery, Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers

[SBN Rangers blog - Blueshirt Banter]

Record: 26-27-7 (11th in East)

Scorers: Marian Gaborik (35g, 34a), Vinny Prospal (12g, 32a), Olli Jokinen (12g, 26a)

Side note: Blueshirt Banter has been an SBN Rangers blog for almost a full year now, and still I have to remind myself to always type the 'r' between the 'i' and 't' in blueshirt. 

At some point this season we all could've predicted that Marian Gaborik would at some point be out of the lineup.  Evidence throughout his injury-ridden career was certainly backing that theory up and sure enough, he recently missed Saturday's game against the Predators after suffering lacerations to his leg in practice. 

I've often wondered where the Rangers would be without Gaborik.  He has almost three times as many goals as the team's second-leading goal scorer (Prospal) and 34 assists as well.  If the 2-1 loss to Nashville is any proof, then the Rangers would definitely be struggling on the offensive side of the puck.

The Rangers have stated on their site that they hope Gabby is good to go tonight, but there's still no official word on that.  In other words, chalks it up as a game-time decision.

New York isn't sitting comfortably in any sort of position in the East right now (11th overall), but as is the case with basically every team sitting just outside of the top eight, they are easily within striking distance.  It'll take some work and consistency over the remainder of the season, but the Rangers could manage to slip in at the seven or eight seed.

Pittsburgh will obviously have something to say about that though.  The Penguins are 4-0 in regular season meetings this year and look to extend that to five tonight on home ice. 

Before I wrap up this preview, I think it needs to be said that Sean Avery has been relatively quiet this season.  I mean that in both the outlandish and hockey sense.  Maybe this is an example of John Tortorella keeping a cap on him in the locker room or perhaps the team's ability to draw more negative headlines than a player.  The average person can disappear into the crowds of New York City with ease.  A guy like Avery, it would seem, almost has to make an extra effort.  So far his disappearing act is working and I'm sure that's upsetting no one in the NHL's front office.

Puck and thread drop at 7:30 tonight.  Come on by.