Rangers-Islanders: First Game with New Faces

Scott SnyderContributor IMarch 5, 2009

What a stretch it has been for these New York Rangers. First, the easy-going, does not make players accountable for their actions Tom Renney, is fired. He gets replaced by the fiery, no-nonsense, never say die attitude of John Tortorella.

Three games into the Tortorella era and I think it's obvious this is a much different team than under Renney.

Then, Tuesday, as expected, Sean Avery is plucked from re-entry waivers. For $1.9 million for the next three years I can handle it. It just depends on how bad Avery wants to be in a Ranger versus how badly he wants the big lights of New York City.

The teams record last year and the year before with and without Avery is astounding. Hopefully he can bring that passion and grit that he did when he last wore a blue shirt.  

Yesterday, Glen Sather, after a forgettable 2008 offseason, acquires 6'6", 235-pound Nik Antopov from the Maple Leafs for a second-round pick and a conditional pick. I like this move. Antropov can play center or wing, has a good shot, and plays a decent amount in the tough area around the net.

Then, with one minute to go before the 3 PM deadline, Sather brings in Derek Morris for Dmitri Kalinin, Petr Prucha, and Nigel Dawes. It may seem like a lot to give up, but having brought back Avery and trading for Antropov, there was not much sense in having these two forwards around as spare parts.

Not to mention Kalinin was never long for New York, rather a stop gap measure for one season. Morris, I say will play with Paul Mara. The two were paired when Mara played in Phoenix and had his 48-point season. Perhaps the two will also man the point on the second power play unit.

My bet would be yes.

Here's to wishing Dawes and Prucha well in Phoenix and beyond. Both have raw talent, but were a little undersized, and their spots in the lineup were never solid under coach Renney.

I'm sure they will thrive in the no-pressure Coyotes organization under Wayne Gretzky and playing with a bunch of youngsters.

So, tonight against the Islanders is a big game. It's the last game against the Isles this year, and the first game for our three new players. They need to come out hard, forecheck hard, and drive to the net with regularity. We need to score early and score often, because if the Islanders score first, it will put our players in a bad state of mind.

This Islander team has lost some players since we played them last and have a lot of rookies and second year players in the lineup. The Rangers need to use their inexperience against them.

More later...