The New York Rangers have struggled all season long to put together a full 60-minute effort. This proves to be fatal most times in the NHL, but the Rangers have managed to get away with several of these efforts and stay afloat in the playoff race.
On Wednesday night, however, they face the best team in the league and the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks. This is a very difficult road matchup for the Rangers, and just a few seconds of a flat effort may prove fatal.
The Blackhawks are simply too skilled and too smart to allow any margin for error for the Rangers. The Rangers do not have a playmaker with the talent of a Jonathan Toews or a lethal sniper like Patrick Kane. If either of these two are on their A-games, it’s going to be a long night in Chicago.
Once again, the Rangers’ hopes will rest on the shoulders of Henrik Lundqvist, who will make his second consecutive start following a difficult shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Simply put, if he doesn’t bring his A-game, it will be an even longer night for the Rangers. Lundqvist’s poor performances this season against elite Western Conference teams have typically resulted in blowouts. Expect this again if he comes out flat.
So which Rangers team will show up? The one that dominated the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday night, or the one that once again failed to put together a 60-minute effort against Columbus? It needs to be the former, otherwise the Blackhawks will show the Rangers just how far away they are from winning a Stanley Cup.