Welcome to the New York Rangers’ version of Custer’s Last Stand.
The Blueshirts are reeling. They are banged up, injured and short-handed.
Currently residing in last place of the Metropolitan Division, the Broadway Blueshirts are somehow just three points back of a playoff spot.
Oh, and let’s not forget, the NHL Trade Deadline draws ever closer.
All these factors have the Rangers with their backs against the wall; preparing for one last stand.
A timely win-streak — starting with the Bruins — could still propel the Blueshirts into the playoffs.
But the continuation of their losing-streak will once and for all end their postseason aspirations.
On the morning of June 25, 1876, Lieutenant Colonel George A. Custer and the 7th Cavalry marched into battle against Lakota Sioux and Northern Cheyenne Indians.
Custer was supposed to wait for reinforcements before charging off into battle. But he was impatient and rushed in anyway.
The Rangers are dealing with five significant injuries and would be best off waiting for their players to heal. But the NHL schedule doesn’t allow a team to pause and wait for its’ players to return.
Custer and his troops stormed the Indians from the North and were quickly surrounded. And within an hour Custer and 265 of his troops were dead.
The Blueshirts play 10 times between now and the Trade Deadline.
And due to the constant progressive movement of their schedule, the Rangers have to make some tough decisions regarding their roster before they can get healthy.
Without their reinforcements the Blueshirts will likely continue to fall further out of the playoff race — until it is too late to recover.
Either way, their Original Six matchup with the Bruins is the beginning of the Rangers’ last stand.
DEEP ROOTED CONNECTIONS
Steven Kampfer began his NHL career in Boston and played parts of two seasons in Beantown (2010-11 and 2011-12).
Jeff Gorton was in the Bruins organization for 15 seasons; serving as Boston’s Interim General Manager in 2006.
The Blueshirts have four Massachusetts natives on their current roster: Paul Carey (Boston, MA), Chris Kreider (Boxford, MA), Kevin Hayes (Dorchester, MA) and Jimmy Vesey (North Reading, MA). Each played college hockey in Massachusetts. Hayes, Kreider and Carey played at Boston College. While Vesey played at Harvard.
Charlie McAvoy is from Long Beach, New York, growing up a Blueshirts’ fan; idolizing Brian Leetch.
Kevin Shattenkirk played college hockey for Boston University (2007-2010).
Mats Zuccarello: The scrappy winger is six goals away from 100 in his NHL career.
Rick Nash: The veteran winger is four points away from 800 in his illustrious NHL career.
J.T. Miller: The skilled former first-round draft pick has always shown tremendous poise with the puck. And his playmaking abilities have him closing in on 100 career assists; he’s four away.
PLAYER TO WATCH
BRUINS: BRAD MARCHAND. The Bruins leading-scorer is ready to return from his five-game suspension. And he will have a chip on his shoulder. Over the weekend, Marchand voiced his frustrations about being labeled a “dirty guy.” And there’s nothing more dangerous than a motivated, talented player.
RANGERS: HENRIK LUNDQVIST. A stellar 39-save effort by the King was wasted as the Blueshirts failed to muster the necessary offense to beat the Stars. And if the Rangers stand any chance of saving their season, Lundqvist must continue his Vezina-like season.
Lately, the list of the wounded on 7th Avenue has grown exponentially.
During their winless road trip the Rangers lost Jimmy Vesey and Marc Staal to head injuries; this just one game after they lost Pavel Buchnevich to a similar injury.
With Chris Kreider and Kevin Shattenkirk already out long-term, the Blueshirts are missing five key players.
On the positive side, Henrik Lundqvist turned in a strong performance against the Stars and should continue his resurgent season when he faces Boston.
Expect the rest of the lineup to remain the same.
WHERE TO WATCH
The game will be broadcast on NBCSN at 8 pm ET. For in-game coverage check out our Twitter account @NYRBlueBulletin.
These teams are trending in opposite directions, with the Bruins ascending and the Rangers descending.
The start of a well timed winning-streak could still prevent a full blown fire-sale. But another couple losses will force management to wave the white flag on the season.