As the NHL season heads closer and closer to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, teams in playoff contention around the league are starting to buckle down and attempt to play their best hockey of the season in order to secure their spot in the playoff picture. And the New York Rangers are no different.
With just 12 games left this season, the Rangers find themselves in a playoff spot in the standings, but just barely, as they have a two-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
However, the Rangers have played more games than most other teams, and two more than the Blue Jackets, leading them to be vulnerable in the standings, with their playoff spot in jeopardy.
The Rangers face their biggest game of the season on Friday as they play the Blue Jackets for the final time this season, a theoretical do or die game for the Rangers.
While the Rangers can still make the playoffs even if the team was to suffer a loss on Friday, if the Rangers lose they are going to make it much more difficult to secure a playoff spot.
Ideally, the Rangers would want to clinch a playoff spot before the final few games of the season so that they can rest some of their players in the last few games in preparation of the playoffs.
However, at the rate that the season is going for the Rangers, and the Metropolitan Division, this is not likely to happen, especially if the Rangers lose on Friday.
The Rangers have had a hot and cold, Jekyll and Hyde season, with hot streaks where they look like the favorites to win the Stanley Cup, and horrible cold streaks where it looks as if they were playing pee wee hockey out there on the ice.
As the regular season winds down, leading to the intense playoff race, the Rangers need to decide on one team to be from here on out, there is only room for one, especially if they choose to be the hot Rangers that can be serious playoff contenders.
With all the struggles the Rangers have faced this season, it seems as if they have sorted out most of them. A horrible start to their goaltending led fans and players to question the ability and consistency of goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who had been so good in the past.
Recent success has electrified Lundqvist’s season, and when you factor in his Olympic success in addition to his franchise record breaking season, it is obvious that the concern at the beginning of the season is no more. It is obvious to everyone who watches that Lundqvist is still one of the best goalies in the NHL, and will continue to be throughout the remainder of this season and in many future seasons to come.
Another Rangers’ concern that manifested itself throughout the season, leading to their ice cold streaks, was a lack of offense, more specifically a lack of goal scoring ability. While the Rangers never really struggled with getting shots on goal, their problem was always converting on their shots and putting the puck in the back of the net.
Recently, the Rangers have fixed their issues and have been scoring at will, marked by a recent victory against the Ottawa Senators in which the Rangers scored eight goals.
Rangers’ star forward Rick Nash and young stars Derek Stepan and Chris Kreider are just a few of the players who have been a key part of the recent offensive success, coming alive with a combined 25 points in the team’s last 11 games.
The Rangers have been playing exceptionally well lately, looking as if they have something to prove. While the Rangers and their fans know they can be contenders for the Stanley Cup, now is the time for the Rangers to prove it to the rest of the league and their fans.
With such a critical game in terms of playoff implications looming in the near future for the Rangers on Friday, this is the time to prove it.
The Rangers face their most important game of the season on Friday, one that will definitely make them or break them in terms of whether or not they make the playoffs this season.
The Rangers need to prove they deserve to make the playoffs.