NEW YORK RANGERS: What Three Game Losing Streak?The Last Four Points Set Up Blueshirts Nicely for Showdown Versus Pittsburgh.
Bring On SID the KID!
In a long season, short term goals matter. Getting four points in two games to begin this crucial home stand mattered. And now, halting the March of the Penguins matters.
TUESDAY NIGHT FINAL
Carolina Hurricanes 2
Brad Richards Line 4
Richards; 2 goals, 1 assist
Gaborik; 1 goal, 2 assists
Hagelin; 1 goal, 2 assists
1) - New York Rangers 95 points
2) - Pittsburgh Penguins 89 points
With Pittsburgh winning nine consecutive games, the Rangers had to win their last two in a row at home. Otherwise, Thursday's night's showdown against the Penguins could have been for a share of first place in the Atlantic Division. The Eastern Conference ramifications as we know, were and still are far worse. In my last post I left off saying if the Blueshirts could just beat the Islanders and Carolina, we'd be fine heading into the Penguins game. And well, they did that in exciting fashion against the Islanders, and in a convincing manner over the Hurricanes.
After giving Brad Richards a Chris Drury-like critique, the Ranger centerman has been nothing but money just as the team needs him most. And not incidentally, what's not to be happy about Richards shutting me up with four goals in those two games? Overall, in the absence of the Ryan Callahan, the line of Richards, Gaborik, and Hagelin, have been brilliant.
They need to be. Pittsburgh has the Rangers squarely in their cross-hairs. The Penguins have risen in the standings almost totally without the services of Sidney Crosby this season. Ivgeni Malkin stepped up his game and has played like a beast in his absence. And now the Kid is coming back again. Sidney Crosby will be making his second NHL debut this season at Madison Square Garden.
The Rangers and Penguins have met four times this season. The Rangers won the early season battles. Pittsburgh has taken the last two. Both teams are 1-1 at home.
Short term goals go a long way. By winning the first two games of this homestand, a loss to the Pens would still keep the Rangers four points ahead with twelve games left. And that in no way should be construed as being defeatist. It's called in-season management. One of their new goals should now be to make sure we take one of the two games remaining against Pittsburgh.
Keep it simple.