It's Put-Up or Shut-Up Time for New York Rangers

By Matt Stillwell
Adam Hunger – USA TODAY Sports

We’ve all heard the talk after games about staying positive and putting forth a better effort. For the New York Rangers, the time for talk is over. They have fallen to seventh in the Metropolitan Division at 15-17-1, and are 2-4-1 during their 12-of-13 home game stretch. If any pride or heart still exists within them, their turnaround begins tonight against the Calgary Flames.

Although no game is a sure thing anymore for the Rangers, this Calgary team has the second-least points in the Western Conference with 30. This is only one less point than the Rangers have, but the Rangers are nonetheless better than the Flames in all aspects of the game. The question is, how much effort will they want to put forth tonight?

It’s up to every single man in uniform to step up their game. Of course, the onus will be on their best players, and rightfully so. Henrik Lundqvist needs to be the man that was signed to a long-term extension. Derek Stepan needs to stop worrying about the Olympics and play like a No. 1 center. Rick Nash basically needs to score a goal-per-game. Marc Staal and Ryan Callahan are injured and will not return for a long time. If the Rangers are going to use the absence of these two as an excuse to not compete, then it reinforces the theory that they are soft. Do they really want to be perceived this way?

There is still a long way to go in the regular season, so the hope is that this rough stretch recently is just a blip on the radar screen. At the same time, it’s one thing to talk about improvement and another to translate it to the ice. If they can’t start translating this to the ice tonight, when will they?

Matt Stillwell is a New York Rangers contributor for Follow him on Twitter @MattNYR12, “like” him on Facebook and connect with him on Google Plus for all NYR news and notes!

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