Still basking in the glow of their emotional victory overtime on Long Island, the Rangers head to Philly for an important tilt with the Broad Street Bullies.
The Blueshirts finish the 2013 campaign with a critical stretch of games in a very favorable schedule. The five clubs the Rangers meet in the final seven games are all clubs below the Rangers in the standings. The Rangers could and should run the table against these teams, but fans should do well to be cautious. The last time things fell into place this nicely for the NYR, they drew the #8, 7 and then 6 seed in what should have been a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The Rangers need to find a power play. Close games down the stretch and in the playoffs are determined by two things: goaltending and power play. The Rangers have one of the elements of the equation. Henrik Lundqvist is the best goalie in the world and when the season wraps will probably be the favorite to take home his second Vezina Trophy. The Blueshirts do not have the second part of the equation. Their power play is and has been abysmal. The 0-4 against the Isles encapsulates the Rangers woes this season. The Rangers chip in a PPG or 2, with the way the King is playing, that game doesn’t get to OT. Hank is going to keep the goals against to around two or less. The power play is going to be the difference in the low-scoring tight games that await the NYR.
Coach Torts’ boys also need to find some secondary scoring. Rick Nash, Derek Stepan and Ryan Callahan (all in double digits in goals this season) will get their goals. After that trio, the NYR have been bereft of scoring. Ryane Clowe and carl Hagelin will have to chip in and rumor-of-his-former-self Brad Richards needs to contribute something. The erstwhile number one center, with his 6.7 million dollar contract has six more goals than Henrik Lundqvist this season.
If the Rangers can continue to attack on the forecheck and pepper the opposing goalies, these seven upcoming games could go a long way to correcting some very serious flaws that the NYR have displayed. The time to get it together and go on a run starts now. Let’s go Rangers!
Here is the remaining schedule.
TUE APR 16, 2013 RANGERS @ FLYERS
THU APR 18, 2013 PANTHERS @ RANGERS
FRI APR 19, 2013 RANGERS @ SABRES
SUN APR 21, 2013 DEVILS @ RANGERS
TUE APR 23, 2013 RANGERS @ PANTHERS
THU APR 25, 2013 RANGERS @ HURRICANES
SAT APR 27, 2013 DEVILS @ RANGERS