First, some shameless promotion of our first Blueshirt Bulletin and Official New York Rangers Fan Club Event! Blueshirt Bulletin contributors and professional beat writers Andrew Gross, of The Record, and Jim Cerny, of NewYorkRangers.com, will be participating in a Writer's Roundtable discussion with Blueshirt Bulletin Staff on February 15th from 7 - 9 pm at the Workmen's Circle in New York City.
The event is for Blueshirt Bulletin subscribers and Fan Club members only! To sign-up, click the banner ad and fill out the form! Form can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to (631) 923 - 0875!
Three games remain until the Olympic break and these potential six points may be the difference in a playoff berth or an early off-season.
With the Rangers 3 - 1 victory against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday, they have the opportunity to continue that momentum at the Garden on Wednesday against a struggling Nashville Predators team.
Nashville is 3 - 6 - 1 in their last 10 games and clinging to the eight spot in the Western Conference.
Following that, the Rangers head to Pittsburgh to face Sid The Kid and the revived Penguins offense. Capping off the trio is one final home game on Sunday, an afternoon matinee against the red-hot Tampa Bay Lightning.
While none of these games are easy, the Rangers should be able to secure at least four points amongst them.
The Eastern Conference is still very open with eight teams reasonably competing for the sixth - eighth seeds. In turn, points against a divisional rival in Pittsburgh and conference opponent in Tampa Bay are crucial.
Should the Rangers fail to gain points in these games, the dreaded four-point game comes into play as you are enabling your competitors.
But there's hope and the spirited Saturday victory allows for that.
The defense settled down considerably after a wild loss to the Washington Capitals. Dan Girardi and Marc Staal led the defense in ice time and were impressive in shutting down the New Jersey offense.
However, veterans Michal Rozsival and Wade Redden stepped up and played a greater role than in recent weeks. This allowed rookies Matt Gilroy and Mike Del Zotto to rest a bit and gain some valuable time watching the game.
Aside from strong defensive play, the Rangers have revived their offense thanks to some positive line combinations. Erik Christensen between Vinny Prospal and Marian Gaborik has paid dividends, perhaps a bit unexpectedly.
The trio has found some good chemistry which allowed for crisp puck movement and a free-flowing style in the offensive zone.
The second line of newcomer Olli Jokinen between Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky has also somewhat surprisingly paid off. With Callahan and Dubinsky better suited as play-makers, their hard play on the boards has opened the ice for Jokinen.
Even the third line of Artem Anisimov, Sean Avery, and Enver Lisin seemed to click. Avery was up to his usual antics and made it be known that he will not go down quietly.
One troubling part of these combinations is the use of captain Chris Drury. Drury has been relegated back to the fourth line, which may be in part to his upcoming Olympic performance.
Nonetheless, his cap hit is far too high to leave him on the fourth line and specialty situations. Besides, he had played better on the second line of late prior to the Jokinen acquisition.
The humble captain would not publicly speak out, but I can't imagine the franchise would want that much money playing on the fourth line.
Follow us for more updates on Twitter.