What a difference a week makes. It was just a week ago that the New York Rangers were looking up in the playoff race. They were trying to go from seventh to sixth. That way they could potentially face off with the Boston Bruins when the playoffs began. Who wants to play the Washington Capitals? If the Rangers were to finish seventh their fate would be Alexander Ovechkin and the Caps in round one.
"Playoffs? You kidding me? Playoffs?" To quote the always bad coach Jim Mora is how Ranger fans feel today. Sure, they had a run of ten games where they went 8-1-1. But they picked a great time to lose against two teams with backup goalies in net. With just four games left and three points separating eighth to ninth place it is starting to feel like last year.
Even with Henrik Lundquist playing on the top of his game, the Rangers seem destined for an early vacation. Of the four remaining games, two are against conference contenders, Philly and Boston. The Thrashers and Devils will be tough tests also. Especially when you consider this fact. The Rangers can't score.
Two seasons ago they had the Capitals down 3-1 in the playoffs and wound up being eliminated. Their problem was the inability to score goals consistently. The Rangers' General Manager went out after that season and signed Marian Gaborik. He had a strong first season but the Rangers did not make the playoffs. Then this season, he has not even scored 25 goals and guess what? They still can't score and are dangerously close to not making the playoffs.
The Rangers have scored a combined five goals in their last five games. The Islanders beat them 6-2 last night. The Isles had nothing to play for. Their season has been over. Somehow, though, they played like the hungry team. The Isles have a pair of 30-goal scorers. When lines remain the same throughout the season it's easy to score goals. For some reason Ranger coach John Tortorella thinks by changing lines like underwear is a good idea. Have a bad shift? Benched. Take a bad penalty? Benched. Be on a line that scores in five straight games then go one without a goal? Have fun playing the next game with two new linemates. It's easy to win the Stanley Cup with Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier, huh coach? This clown can't even get through an after game press conference without being a douche to another beat reporter. Just because any ONE of those reporters could do a better job coaching does not mean you get to be a sarcastic (insert word here).
All of a sudden tomorrow's afternoon showdown in Philly is more than a must-win game. It is an opportunity to regain their playoff push.
"It's now or never..."