After winning their first game back after the Olympic break, the New York Rangers have faced a recent slide, losing their last two games, something that does not bode well for their playoff push.
After their recent two losses, the Rangers have seen a drop in the standings. After their win against the Chicago Blackhawks in their first game back from the Olympic break, the Rangers were in sole possession of second place in the Metropolitan Division. Now, after their latest slide, they are in third place in the Metropolitan Division and only one point ahead of the Washington Capitals, who currently are not in a playoff position.
Right now is gut check time for the Rangers. With only 20 games left in the season, they need to find their rhythm once again, or they risk missing the playoffs all together. The Rangers lost two games that the team could not afford to, one to the Boston Bruins, and one to their division rival the Philadelphia Flyers, a game that hurt even more when you consider that the result of the game put the Flyers ahead of the Rangers in the standings.
In the Rangers’ last 20 games of the season, only seven of those games are against teams that are currently in a playoff position. With that being said, it would be a disaster if the Rangers were not able to make the playoffs this season.
One of the problems that they have been facing lately is lack of defensive support and goaltending, something that has not been a problem this season for the most part. The offense has outshot the opponent in the two losses, which means that the defense is giving up shots in areas that should not have shots coming from. Furthermore, goaltender Henrik Lundqvist has allowed 10 goals in his last two starts, something that is out of character for Lundqvist recently.
While many attribute the drop in level of play to all the controversy and media surrounding the team because of the trade deadline, this should not have as large of an affect as it does. With defenseman Dan Girardi signing a multi-million dollar contract extension and the trade deadline set to expire tomorrow, the distraction should be gone by the Rangers’ game against the Toronto Maple Leafs tomorrow.
If the Rangers are going to even make the playoffs this season, then the team needs to pick up their level of play now and show that they are still a team to be reckoned with, and not that their hot streak before the Olympic break was a freak happening.