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Rangers Vs. Panthers: Sunday Morning Bantering Points

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What do you need to know heading into the Rangers' matchup with the Panthers?

Kirk Irwin

It's a slow Sunday morning so why don't we jump into an early bantering points to help prepare for tonight's game against the Panthers?

- The New York Rangers are 8-8, putting them at .500 for the first time this season. Tonight marks the Rangers' first opportunity (aside from the first game of the year) to get over .500, which would be a pretty big accomplishment considering the poor start the team jumped out to.

- The Florida Panthers are coming off a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. The Panthers have a completely new coaching staff (after firing their coaches on Friday) and are finishing a back-to-back series with the Rangers in New York tonight. Team's like this are dangerous. Very dangerous. There is no such thing as an easy game in the NHL, especially when a team is having a rough go. The streak has to end eventually. The Rangers just need to make sure that's not tonight.

- Speaking of things ending. The questions surrounding Rick Nash's future aren't as negative as they were two days ago. Nash skated with the extras on Saturday, and both he and General Manager Glen Sather spoke about how Nash was on the road to recovery. That's a good thing, because the Rangers do miss Nash; regardless of how they're playing. Of course, his health is more important than anything else.

- My guess is Henrik Lundqvist gets the nod tonight, since Cam Talbot went in the Rangers win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday.

- Some rumors floating around the Rangers might be shopping Michael Del Zotto, since Alain Vigneault can't trust the young defenseman in his own zone late in games. That may or may not be true, but we should get a pretty good look at that issue tonight against the Panthers.

- One more note on the Del Zotto thing, I think you get much more from him in a package. Unless a team needs an offensive defense who is still young enough to have a ton of potential. I'm not sure what the move is for the Rangers here, of if it's even true.

- The Rangers offense has started to wake up a little recently, which is a really good sign. The power play looks better (and is finishing when it's needed) and the offense is general is beginning to click. When Nash returns that will make things even better, but even without him the Rangers are starting to show what they can do under Alain Vigneault.

- And the defense? We talked about it earlier in the weekend, but the Rangers have now given up two goals or less in the past nine games. That's a long time, and a hell of a different outlook than what we saw in the beginning of the year.

- To be fair, the goaltending has gotten much, much better, too, no?

That's all from us this morning. Use this as your open thread until we hit the game stories.

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