The NHL season resumes tonight, and the next issue of Blueshirt Bulletin comes out just in time. We're looking at the home stretch here -- what to expect from the Rangers as they head to what looks like their first spring in the playoffs in a long time. Blueshirt Bulletin contributors Andrew Gross, Steve Zipay, Joe McDonald, and Anthony Mastantuoni all weigh on the subject, including a long look at what trade deadline moves the Rangers might consider to bolster their playoff run. We also have a heaping helping of our usual unparalleled prospect coverage, which we enumerated in yesterday's post, from Bruce Berlet, Jess Rubenstein, and Shawn Roarke. There are a number of other features that we're sure you'll find interesting as well. Some sample pages can be seen to the left and right and below. Please consider subscribing to Blueshirt Bulletin, where you get more exclusive Ranger coverage in one place than you can get anywhere else, in addition to the daily updates available here online. Subscription information can be found by clicking "Download Subscription Form" in the sidebar at right.
The Rangers catch a scheduling break and don't resume play for two more days, giving their late-returning Olympians a chance to rest up and get back in synch with the rest of the team. Tom Renney reports that the returnees have come back in good moods ready to tackle the stretch run (see news items in the Post, News, and Newsday). The full team was expected to practice today, but Jaromir Jagr was given a day off to rest, Darius Kasparaitis nursed a toe injured in the bronze medal game by a Jagr shot, Fedor Tyutin was late due to visa problems, and gold medal game participants Henrik Lundqvist and Ville Nieminen were also give the day off. Petr Prucha hasn't returned to the ice yet, continuing his off-ice rehab, but Blair Betts practiced with the team and might play in Philly Thursday. Al Montoya, called up for a bit of practice with the big club, was sent back to Hartford.
Big post-break round-up by USA Today contains numerous references to the Rangers. They are among their Five Teams to Watch Down the Stretch, with much of the analysis focusing on the three hardware hopefuls pictured on the cover of the current issue of Blueshirt Bulletin [see top of the sidebar to the right]. The team gets a well-deserved A in USA Today's Report Card. And they get a couple of positive mentions in Five Things You Can Count On in the Stretch Run, compiled by the "experts." A schedule analysis rates the Rangers' remaining games relatively difficult, but a big differentiating factor is the number of Olympic participants, and that could go either way. Chuck Gromley's East Notes at NHL.com start out touting the upcoming face-off between Lundqvist and Finnish foe Antero Niitymaki and Olympic teammate Peter Forsberg, but fails to take into account that Lundqvist is unlikely to play that game. Still, the report is full of Ranger stuff. The Rangers are all over John Buccigros's current column at ESPN.com, beginning with the great headline, "I can see into the future, and it rocks for the Rangers." SI.com weighs in with first half awards that contain a healthy does of Jagr and Lundqvist.
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