So the New York Rangers are in the playoffs and they have 98 points and yet they haven’t won on home ice since February 19th. The Rangers were trailing 3-2 with 16.3 seconds to go before Chris Kreider notched his 27th goal of the season to tie the game at 3. There was hope.
The three-on-three overtime was something else. Both goaltenders were spectacular in the overtime period. The Rangers had numerous chances including a 2 on 0 and couldn’t get the goal they needed to get the monkey off their back. We needed a shootout and Henrik Lundqvist did not look good; in his defense he was banged up from a collision in the overtime period.
The NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs start on April 12th and fortunately for the Rangers they will open up on the road, most likely in Montreal. Actually when you think about it, it may not be fortunate because playing in Montreal has also been a problem for the Blueshirts. It really is amazing that the Rangers despite struggling have put together another great season. They have dealt with injuries as of late but have battled through it.
The Blueshirts (3-3-4) in their last ten games have struggled mightily on home ice there’s no question about it. They have four games remaining to fix that problem two of which that are at Madison Square Garden.
This can be all in the heads of the Rangers players but it needs to be fixed quickly if there is going to be success on another Stanley Cup run. As mentioned in an earlier article, MSG use to be a place of fear for an opponent but for going on month two it hasn’t been. They have secured the first wild card spot so they are safe as we expected them to be. The King has looked better since coming back from injury outside of the shootout itself.
The positive is Lundqvist is getting his game back and just in time for when it counts the most. He went on to say about his game, “I felt good. I think the last couple of games I just feel better and better”. Whenever you hear that from him then you need to beware because Lundqvist plays on another planet.
Although it may be a tough stretch of hockey right now for the Rangers they will be ready for when the first round opens up. They know the chances are high of playing the Canadians and they know what that matchup has been like the last few years. The double edge sword here though is the Bell Centre is a tough place to play and the Rangers stink at home so these last four games are important to get players rested and back on their game in order to move past the first round.
The head coach Alain Vigneault when talking about his team’s play within a full 60 minutes he went on to say, “They’re a good team. They’re trying to win, too. They’re going to have their moments. Such a strong team with the best player in the world, they’re going to have some looks and they’re going to have some moments in your end. A lot of those looks, in my opinion, came off their power play, which is obviously one of their big weapons. But, our overall game 5-on-5, both defensively and offensively, I liked again tonight. Guys competed hard and it was a good hockey game. It was fun to be behind the bench. I’m pretty sure it was the same thing from the stands.”
The Rangers are not far off from getting their game back on track as they near the playoffs. As we all know the playoffs are a different animal and anything can happen. Four games remain but the Rangers needs to get back in the win column on home ice as soon as possible.