How far will the Rangers get this season?

Gameday: Going For Five

The Rangers are firing on all cylinders

The Rangers are firing on all cylinders

The streaking Rangers have a good chance to extend their season long four-game winning streak tonight when they host the Florida Panthers.

Florida gutted its roster once again this year at the trade deadline after being buried in the Eastern Conference standings and although he future looks increasingly bright for the Panthers, the present is not great.  When you look at the Panthers’ season statistics, only five of the team’s 11 top scorers remain with the club.  Stephen Weiss and David Booth are certainly nice players, and have somehow survived Florida’s annual purges, but on a good team they’d be best as second line players.  For the Panthers, they’re asked to do far more and although each has 21 goals, Weiss is a minus-six and Booth is minus-21.  Goalie Tomas Vokoun has once again been the team’s best player, and to the surprise of some, Florida hung onto him at the trade deadline and is rumored to be looking to re-sign him to a long-term deal.  The Panthers also have received encouraging performances from a few youngsters including Mike Santorelli, Keaton Ellerby, Dmitry Kulikov, and Evgeni Dadonov who scored two goals in his return to the Panthers’ lineup on Saturday.

Right now, there’s not a whole lot the Rangers need to change.  They’re playing much better on home ice and assuming they come out with their usual intensity, two points are there for the taking.  The Blueshirts are six points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes, and even though Carolina has a game in hand, a few more victories are all the Rangers need.  It’s certainly a good thing that the Rangers aren’t facing the same level of pressure they have in past years in the season’s final weeks, although obviously things can change.  But right now, the focus should be on deciding who belongs in the lineup for the rest of the season, and on getting Marc Staal healthy.

Staal will once again be a scratch tonight, and Coach John Tortorella is offering no details on his injury.  It hasn’t sounded like it’s anything serious, and the good news is that the Rangers can afford to give Staal a little break, but obviously this is cause for concern.

Sean Avery will once again be a healthy scratch tonight, but Andrew Gross raises an interesting point on his blog.  At this point, the Rangers should probably be scratching the forward that doesn’t belong on the playoff roster.  Erik Christensen has been extremely hot, so at this point he can’t come out of the lineup.  But what about Avery, Mats Zuccarello, and Wojtek Wolski?  Wolski and Zuccarello have been dynamite in the shootout this season, and at times have had great chemistry with Derek Stepan, but both have been quiet lately.  It’s a little tough to see the tiny Zuccarello thriving in the playoffs where physical play is ramped up and Wolski hasn’t done a whole lot to show that he’ll do well in that environment either.  We all know that Avery doesn’t mind that style of play, and he’s done well in the playoffs before, but should the Rangers risk having him take an awful penalty at a crucial juncture?  It’s a tough call, but this issue needs to be sorted out.

Posted by Kevin Baumer | March 22, 2011 at 11:32 am

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New York Rangers VS Chicago Blackhawks
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

  1 2 3 OT F
Rangers 3 0 0 - 3
Blackhawks 1 1 0 - 2

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