I'd have loved to have called it a “climactic” finish ahead, but that would imply success, and quite frankly, I'm not entirely sold yet with this team.
Sure, the Rangers have been better since the overdue replacement of Tom Renney behind the bench, but has the team really been markedly better enough to outpace the teams surrounding them in the standings?
With 71 games in the books, the Rangers sit in an awkward 6th position in the Eastern Conference playoff chase with 82 points. They're within reach of Pittsburgh (84 points) and Philadelphia (84 points), but that's about the best-case-scenario they can hope for at this stage of the stretch run.
The bigger issue is the fact that 10th placed Buffalo is only 6 points behind them, and that their cushion over the current 9th placed Florida Panthers is only 4 points. It's truly going to become a war of attrition.
Mar 21BUF Very closely matched teams in terms of total offence and defence. Buffalo scores more, but allows more. Buffalo is one of the chaser teams, so this becomes the cliche'd 4-point game. Mar 22OTT Out of it, but playing much better since the coaching change and the move of Alfredsson off the big line. Rangers, at home, should win this one. Mar 24MIN Pardon the pun, but this one is a virtual “wild-card”. (Cue the flatulent trombone noise)… Anyway, let's just say that Minnesota isn't a team the Rangers play very often, nor are they a predictable bunch. Jammed into that mess of a Western Conference playoff race should add desperation, but the home-ice advantage should balance that out. Call it Rangers in a shootout… Mar 26@ATL What happened to this team? All of a sudden they're the hottest thing since the Paris Hilton sex tape hit the internet!! And all of it without big gunner Ilya Kovalchuk?!?! I'm sure their recent success will spin the rumour mill in circles, especially since it's dry time and you have to find a way to make something up with some far-drawn basis… But I digress… I'll take the Thrashers in this one. Mar 28@PIT Which Pens team will show up? Considering the current positioning, it's tough to say who will be more desperate when this game actually gets played, but I'm going to say Malkin and company prove too much for even King Henrik… Cue the panic button! Mar 30NJ A real tough one, but Avery facing off against that fat dude Brodeur is always good for a laugh. I'm going to take the Rangers at home here, simply based on emotion. Or maybe Jersey starts Clemmensen? Apr 2@CAR Hot and cold Canes are tough to read… Erik Cole seems to have given them a boost, and with a 72 games played total they find themselves tied for the last playoff spot in the East. I'm not sold on them overall, and would believe that the Rangers should be able to get over on them partly because of John Tortorella's familiarity with Paul Maurice and the Canes… Apr 4@BOS My mom's birthday, let's hope we get a gift! With any luck, both Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez will be off their games, and big Zdeno Chara has the flu. Otherwise, this is a tough sell, even to the staunchest Rangers' fan… Apr 7MON Gimme the Rags. The Habs simply have to be the most underwhelming bunch of also-rans in the NHL this season. Funny how the acquisition everyone criticized in the Montreal fan-o-sphere (Robert Lang) ends up being such an integral part of their success. I'll bet they want Mark Streit back! I have an alternative: Wade Redden… Apr 9PHI Always a nice physical affair between these two. Hard to say how this one will go, but I'd call it a split, which would lean in Philly's favour if they were on home ice. As is, I will stop short of giving the Rangers the edge, even for home ice, as I find this is a matchup that depends entirely on who starts in goal for New York. I have a feeling it could be Valiquette… Apr 12@PHI Closing out the season on the road, here I give Philly the edge. I'm hoping this isn't pivotal to the Rangers making the playoffs, as I actually kind of like a playoff matchup against New Jersey or Boston. I'm guessing that's where we'll finish after losing this one, 7th or 8th…
Anyway, that's just something to post on the new site. Figure it's time!
Enjoy the games!
About the Author
Written by Dan Rakusan
A huge Rangers (NHL), Falcons (NFL), PGA Tour and soccer fan, I have been writing semi-professionally for about 7 years now. I try to impart information with some degree of humour, and always have an opinion. PSB is another feather in my cap, and am really proud of the team assembled here, and look forward to the long-term journey PSB is embarking on in terms of establishing itself as the best sports blogging collective on the net! Look for articles such as 4-Play, Rangers blogs and PGA Tour updates, along with my NFL handicapping service!