Jan
17

Three Games, Three Playoff Teams, One Test To Get Back On Track

January 17, 2012, by

The Rangers have lost two of three, and looked exceptionally poor in those two losses. Sandwiched in between was one dominant performance over the Toronto Maple Leafs, but the playoff-bound Ottawa Senators and the woeful Montreal Canadiens took the Rangers to school, beating the Blueshirts by a combined score of 7-1. The Rangers were without Brandon Dubinsky for both games and without Ruslan Fedotenko for one, but injuries are no excuse in this league.

This week, the Rangers will have the Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Boston Bruins. All three are playoff bound, with just Pittsburgh on the bubble. Each team has a different style of play that will test the Rangers.

True contenders win games in many different ways. It is something that the Rangers have done all year. They have outscored opponents in shootouts, they have shut down the opposition defensively in defensive battles, they have out-grinded the grinders, and they have out-hit the physical teams. Simply put, they have found a way to win games. This trait is a trait that their next three opponents share.

The Predators aren’t a high scoring team, and they are middle of the road defensively (per total goals for – 120 in 45 games). They just find ways to win by grinding it out and out hustling the opposition. It helps that they have two stud defensemen and a Vezina caliber goaltender as well, but that hasn’t shown itself on the stat line.

The Penguins are roughed up pretty badly, with just seven players that have played in at least 40 of their 44 games thus far. They have been without Sidney Crosby all year, and are currently without Jordan Staal. Through all that, they have found a way to win with James Neal carrying the brunt of the scoring responsibility. Unlike the Predators, the Penguins look to outscore opponents, and will climb back into the middle seeds once they get healthy.

The Bruins are just flat out awesome, and the best team in the NHL. They are the perfect NHL club right now, and something that the Rangers hope to be in the near future. However, the Rangers always play the Bruins tough, and they will need to be perfect in their own right to take down the best team in the NHL. The Bruins are capable of outscoring the Rangers in a shootout, out defending them in a defensive battle, and out grinding them in a physical game.

Three games. Three playoff teams. Three different styles. Three ways the Rangers can prove again that they are among the elite in the league. One chance to get back on track before what is essentially a week off.

But let’s remember, even if the Rangers play .500 hockey over their last 39 games, they still finish with 99 points and what will likely be a top-three seed.

3 comments

  1. Walt says:

    This post is right on the mark. The Rangers need to be at top form to win the next three games, and stay in the hunt for the top spot, at least in their division!

    Yesterday in one of my postings I said this team has over achieved, and I stand by that remark. This is a test, with the Bruins being as physical as they are, and top flight goal tending, it will be rough. The Pens always play us tough, even as hurt as they are, they will be pushing us this week, that’s their nature. If we don’t play as perfect a game as possible, we could lose all three games this week. With, hopefully, the return of Dubi, and possibly Feds, we could make a statement, and prove we are the real Mc Coys!

    I don’t want any 500 played the rest of the season, we have to have the foot to the pedel the entire season, or we could get caught with our pants down. Filthadelphia, Pitt, Devils are all too good to play 500 ball, and expect to win the division!

  2. dswt25 says:

    Great points. It will be interesting to see where we are a week from now. Question…you really think 99 points will win the division? I’d bet a c-note that it will take more.

  3. The Suit says:

    The Rangers can beat anybody when they play their game. The team is a little beat up right now, but I’m not worried long-term. The ingredients are still there.