Saturday, March 26, 2011

Four Game Road Trip, Starting Today, Will Determine Rangers Fate This Season

The New York Rangers have played very well over the past few weeks and even when they haven’t are finding ways to get points.  They currently sit in seventh place with 85 points which puts them five clear of ninth place Carolina and only four behind fifth place Tampa Bay.  With those parameters these last seven games can send New York in either direction and a key determinant of what does finally happen will be this critical four game road trip the Rangers begin today in Boston.

Coming off a bad shootout loss to Ottawa the team will be hungry for not only a better outcome, but a better effort than they put forth on Thursday night.  The Bruins have been very Jekyll and Hyde of late either being very hot or extremely cold, but they are coming off a 7-0 win against the Canadiens.  Today’s game could be a playoff preview if the teams end up as the respective third and sixth seeds in the East.

Wednesday the Rangers will take on Buffalo at their place is what will likely be a crucial game for both in terms of being in and the positioning in the standings.  Buffalo owns the regulation/wins tiebreakers over New York at the moment and could win the season series with a win on Sunday.  The consensus amongst many of the fans is that the Rangers need to avoid Philly in the first round and Wednesday’s game in particular could be a key factor in that.

After playing in Buffalo Wednesday the Rangers will have to go Long Island on Thursday to take on the Islanders in what is never an easy late season game.  The Islanders will have nothing to play for and beating the Rangers and costing them either positioning or a playoff spot is the one thing they have left to get out of this season.  The Rangers have played well against them this year in terms of results but that is a two point game they have to be circling as a must on the calendar.

The trip wraps up next Sunday in Philadelphia against the Flyers who will be looking to exact revenge for the Rangers 7-0 beat down in the Garden at the beginning of this month.  Up until that game on March 6 the Flyers had New York’s number and they will be looking to get it again psychologically heading into a potential meeting in the playoffs.

The Rangers have played extremely well to control their own destiny to get into the playoffs and have chances to move up in the seedings, but much of what comes out in the end will be determined by how these four road games turn out.