NEW YORK, NY – We’re a week away from Christmas and it’s still summer in the Northeast. This may explain why the Giants and Rangers have been underachieving. Usually the changing of the seasons would signal to Eli Manning and the rest of Big Blue that its time to start stringing wins together to sneak into the playoffs. But with temperatures as high as they are in New York, Eli still thinks he’s in the middle of preseason.
The G-Men play a must-win game this weekend at home against the undefeated Carolina Panthers. Can Eli right the ship against the toughest opponent they’ll face all season? Probably not. But stranger things have happened. The Giants come into week 15 with a 6-7 record. If they knew how to manage the clock, they could be 9-4 or 10-3. But the Coughlin-Manning tandem have conspired to ensure that the Giants are in an un-winnable dogfight for the NFC East title.
There’s a very good chance that every team in the NFC East could lose this weekend, leaving the Redskins, Giants, and Eagles all with 6-8 records with two games to go. The Skins and Eagles go head-to-head in week sixteen, and the Eagles face the Giants in week 17 while Washington travels to Dallas. So we could have a three way tie at 7-9. The Giants have an awful record in the division so they’d be headed home. Which would probably be for the best since none of these teams deserve to make the playoffs. It’s a shame that one of them has to.
On the ice, the Rangers have been lulled into a coma by the warm weather. This is the part of the season where they should be gaining momentum, but they can’t seem to string the wins together. The warm weather has the Rangers in summer pick-up hockey mode. They’ve been bitten by the injury bug and their inconsistent form has hurt them of late. Last night’s capitulation in Minnesota was one of the worst performances I’ve seen from the Rangers in years.
Backup backstop, Antti Raanta left last nights game after taking a puck to the dome. will probably lose a few days off if Raanta is on the shelf for any extended period of time. Derek Stepan is still probably a few weeks away from returning to the lineup. Rookie Brady Skjei (pronounced Shea if you can believe that) has been called up and is playing some decent hockey. But he’s no substitute for a first line center like Stepan.
Kevin Klein has been skating and is close to making a return. That should help the Rangers on the blue line. Dylan McIlrath has been playing pretty well and even got himself a goal the other night. I’d love to keep him around when Klein comes back and send Keith “Useless” Yandle packing, but I’m sure Alain Vigneault has other designs.
Lets hope for a return to form for both the Rangers and the Giants in the coming weeks. Otherwise we will be stuck with the Jets and Islanders in the new year.