NEW YORK, NY – Currently, the New York Rangers and their fans find themselves amid a mad scramble for the NHL Playoffs in the first year of the NHL’s new post-season format. Divisional second and third place finishers will square off in the first round while the top two Conference seeds meet the “wild card” winners (7th and 8th highest remaining point totals within the Conference). No matter how you slice it, if the Rangers don’t wake up soon and fall too far behind, a legion of fans will be slapping their hockey sticks to photos of Jen Selter when the league starts playoff hockey next month. Herein is a synopsis of what’s troubling the Rangers and a look at the competition they’ll be fighting.
You can’t win if you don’t score and the Blueshirts don’t do enough of this, despite the talent on the roster. Has Rick Nash really provided the scoring touch management expected when making the blockbuster deal that landed him on Broadway? Concussion notwithstanding, the big winger hasn’t been dynamic enough in making the Rangers offense dangerous… Carl Hagelin, thought to be a catalyst, has been disappointing even with his great speed… Martin St. Louis is getting his feet wet with his new mates but it’s fairly obvious the talent around him puts limitations on any lofty expectations… Brad Richards looks like Keith Richards when trying to play a two-way game and that outweighs a sneaky shot that leads the team in scoring… Lastly, when journeymen forward Benoit Pouliot (four teams in four years) is one of the team’s most consistent performers, you’re in trouble!
Can the Rangers defense ever join the play on offense or pinch in with some regularity considering the team regards Henrik Lundqvist so highly as the last line of defense? As you can see, there are more questions than answers with New York as a philosophy and identity– hallmarks of a successful team in any sport– are sorely lacking in the Rangers.
Columbus, Philthydelphia & New Joisey will be wild card competition within the Metrosexual Division for the Rangers and Detroit down the stretch. Based upon a grueling schedule ahead for the Flyers and an equally ardent one for the Red Wings, who also have key personnel banged up, these two squads will be hitting the links at season’s end. The Blue Jackets are a heavy bunch whose style is meant for springtime hockey and are destined for a second or third place finish in the division, leaving the Devils and Rangers to duke it out for the other spot. Looking at the last fourteen games, of which ten are at the crime scene known as Newark, New Jersey, the Devils face nine opponents with no playoff hopes and this will catapult them to a date with Columbus. Therefore, these predictions leave the Rangers as survivors of one of the wild card slots and a meeting with the Penguins or, (dare I say?), the Boston Bruins – whom we know they can’t beat. See you all in April!
Please feel free to opine below and come back tomorrow for West Coast Craig.