With that confirmation, we’re going with the lineups from yesterday’s practice:
Tighten up our defense, and take advantage of theirs
Brendan Smith was brought to the Rangers to bring some stability to their struggling defense, but we know his weaknesses all too well. The Rangers have the offense and goaltending to be dangerous, even if they are stuck using their backup until Lundqvist returns, but their defense has been their Achilles heel this season. Our defense is comically disastrous at best, so if even just DeKeyser could find one of his earlier incarnations and keep from committing so many critical errors, we might just be able to hold down our own blueline.
Element of Surprise
Our offensive lines all have some combination of speed, skill, and #grit. There are many players who could break out and have a big game, and as much as I enjoy the Henrik Zetterberg Show it’s always nice to see other lines click in a big way. Whether it’s a great snipe from Tatar, a breakaway from Athanasiou, or Sheahan accidentally knocking the puck into the opposing net, there is plenty of potential for excitement.
Balancing confidence and creativity with accountability
Mantha was scratched for the Blackhawks game, and it’s not the first time Blashill’s words or actions have been tough on one of the kids. While it’s important to ensure that players transitioning up from the AHL are shown that a higher level of effort and discipline is demanded at the NHL level, it’s equally as important that they feel confident in trying new things and taking calculated risks. It’s also tough to see the excuses thrown out for why “veterans” aren’t being held accountable for their failures, especially this season where we haven’t really been competing for a playoff spot anyway.