OK so we know the Rangers are going to face the Pittsburgh Penguins in the second round of the 2008 NHL playoffs. Now while most of the hockey world is drooling over Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the Rangers have their own kids that Ranger fans are just loving.
Sure these Ranger kids are not going to be franchise players that Crosby and Malkin are but what they are is effective in the roles that they play for the Rangers. It is that role playing that we believe will become the difference in why the Rangers will beat the Penguins in this series.
We start of course with the center that somehow Jaromir Jagr just loves having on his line in Brandon Dubinsky. Dubinsky showed in the first round against the Devils that the pressure of being a rookie in the playoffs did not get to him.
If anything, Dubinsky got better and more confident as the Devil's series wore on and we see no reason for that to change. We also know first hand that Dubinsky is a big game player so we expect his numbers to continue.
He was pretty quiet on the scoresheet against the Devils but Nigel Dawes could be a very important player against the Penguins. We say that because history has shown us that the teams that get contributions from their lower lines are the ones who advance.
Dawes along with fellow rookie Ryan Callahan had several shifts in Game's 4 and 5 that while they did not result in goals, resulted in game changing plays.
The pair's relentless forecheck got helped kill the Devil's momentum after the Devils had tied the score at 3-3 in game 4. Their fighting for the puck helped set up Marc Staal's game winning goal.
In game 5, it was the dynamic duo who set up Chris Drury's game/series winning goal in the 3rd period that is why we are talking about the future.
While so many have been raving about the Ranger's scoring, in our eyes the Ranger's best player just might have been Ryan Callahan. It seems like just yesterday that Callahan was struggling so much with his game.
Sure Avery, Jagr and Gomez got all the ink for their contributions but who's shorthanded goal in Game 1 just might have set the tone for the entire series?
That is right it was Ryan Callahan who scored the game winner in Game 1 as Callahan caught Martin Brodeur napping and from that point on we believe Brodeur was affected.
Callahan since his return from Hartford has been a force at both ends of the ice. Whether it was throwing his body around like a madman or drawing penalties, Callahan has made the most of his opportunities.
Finally the player who just might steal the entire show is the player who we think had his coming out party in Game 4 of the Devils series and that is of course Marc Staal.
We were not kidding last week when we pointed out how much we were seeing a repeat of Marc Staal's performance of last season in the OHL playoffs.
Against the Devils, Staal is going to have to elevate his game on the defensive side to help stop the Penguin's Crosby and Malkin. We believe that is very possible and if it does happen then the road to the Stanley Cup will get a whole lot smoother.
If Staal repeats his second round performance from last season's OHL playoffs then expect Staal to become the player we have been predicting he would become back in training camp.
When we say the Rangers in 5 games, it is in large part because we believe that the Ranger's kids will out perform the youthful Penguins.
Just bring it on.
(All pictures courtesy of Media.NHL.com)
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