In just over a month, the Stanley Cup playoffs will be getting underway. The New York Rangers will be going to the post-season for a second straight year, but there are concerns over their lack of strong play recently. The team has one regulation win in their last 12 games and they look gassed.
The only line that has looked like they are trying is the fourth line, which is not a good sign for a team this loaded with talent in the top nine. At this rate, this team looks like an easy first-round exit and they shouldn’t be. One way to help gain some confidence is to finish the month of March on a good note. It is going to be tough, but if this team truly has a No Quit attitude, they should have no problem fighting for every point possible.
This upcoming week is going to be the toughest stretch of hockey they have played all season. They are calling it “Rivalry Week”. They will play the Capitals on Tuesday and the Penguins in back-to-back games on Thursday and Saturday. All of these games will be played at MSG and they are the first three games of a five-game home stand. The Capitals always play hard against the Rangers and they have struggled in the first two games against them.
The Capitals are fighting for a wildcard spot and have looked better. but the Rangers are the much better team. They should be able to beat the Capitals because the Rangers need these points as the Penguins are not far behind in the standings. The Capitals would love to ruin the Rangers’ chances, but the Rangers need this win more than them.
When it comes to the two games against the Penguins, we all know how they play and how these games are called. If they can get under their skin, they will win these games. The Penguins are only six points behind the Rangers so if they win both games, the Rangers and Penguins will be in a true battle for third in the Metro Division.
The Rangers have to play hard and play aggressively in these games if they have any chance of winning. The Penguins were all over them for the majority of their last game and it wasn’t until the third period that the Rangers truly played their best game. If the Rangers can win both of these games, it will greatly hurt the chances of the Penguins catching them in the division.
As for the rest of March, they will play the following opponents. The Hurricanes twice, the Predators, the Panthers, the Blue Jackets, the Sabres, and the Devils. The Rangers should be able to get points against all of those teams, except for the Hurricanes and Devils. Those teams are on another level and are in a battle for first in the Metro.
While the Rangers have beaten the Hurricanes twice this season, it could easily go the other way for these two games. For the Devils are the much faster team and have beaten the Rangers twice this season. Those games are going to be must-watch and if the Rangers can get 4 or 5 out of 6 points, we can call it a success.
The Rangers have a very tough schedule heading into the playoffs. They have to face off against many of the top teams in the NHL. It is not going to be an easy road, but we know this team. They have battled back from adversity time and again. If they truly want to show the rest of the league that they are a threat come playoff time, this is the time of the year to show that. They need to find their game and if they can do that, not many teams will be able to beat them.