Kukla's Korner

Goal Line Report

A Must Win for the Rangers

This is exactly what tonight’s game at Madison Square Garden between the New York York Rangers and New York Islanders is for the Blueshirts.

For the first time this season, the Rangers are in the midst of a three game losing streak in regulation. This past week, the Blueshirts lost to the New Jersey Devils (4-1), Ottawa Senators (4-1) and Chicago Blackhawks.

Because of the losing streak, the Rangers are just four points up on the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team they will meet on Thursday at MSG. If the Rangers continue to play they are playing right now, Thursday night’s tilt with the Penguins could end up meaning even more than it already does.

However, it is time for the team to focus on tonight’s meeting with the Islanders. It will be the last meeting between the two clubs with the Rangers holding the edge in the season series at 3-1-1.

They may not be in a playoff spot but the Islanders are definitely competing every night. They work hard, they forecheck and they make life extremely tough for opponents, something the Blueshirts will have to deal with tonight.

On the other hand, the Rangers need to go out and find that consistency that helped them have success this season. The team needs to start getting offense up and down the lineup and goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who has not been terrible during the streak, needs to get back to allowing two goals or less.

Believe it or not, it is this kind of sluggish play that may end up helping the Rangers in the long run. Every team in the league, even the great/good ones, go through something like this during the season so it is better to have it happen now rather than the postseason.

With that said, the Rangers need to snap out of it beginning tonight against the Islanders. Tonight’s game is the start of a seven game homestand as the Rangers will take on the Islanders, Carolina Hurricanes, Penguins, Colorado Avalanche, Devils, Detroit Red Wings and Buffalo Sabres. Out of those seven teams, five are currently in a playoff spot so no game is a given for the Blueshirts.

What better way than to kick off a big homestand than by beating the hated rival Islanders’ hockey club tonight at MSG?

Filed in: | Goal Line Report | Permalink
  Tags: buffalo+sabres, carolina+hurricanes, chicago+blackhawks, detroit+red+wings, henrik+lundqvist, new+jersey+devils, new+york+islanders, new+york+rangers, ottawa+senators, pittsburgh+penguins

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The Rangers are at the beginning of a monster 7-game home stand, mostly against non-playoff teams and a Detroit team who is under .500 on the road.  The Penguins are where they are thanks to an 8-game winning streak, and are starting a 3-game road trip in Boston, New York and New Jersey.
As much as I would like this race to be tighter, I think this week is where we will see the teams separating once again, regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s game.

Posted by P.Co on 03/11/12 at 10:18 AM ET

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Sorry, the Pens are playing the Bruins at home, then off to a three-game trip at New York, NJ and Philly. Not easier by any means, though…

Posted by P.Co on 03/11/12 at 10:38 AM ET

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Must win?  Look, I’m an Islanders fan, and even I don’t think it’s a must win for the Rangers.  That team has played well all year, and a blip near the end is no huge concern.  Once they get closer to the playoffs, I think they’ll be fine.

Posted by islesfan on 03/11/12 at 05:20 PM ET

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About Goal Line Report

Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.

Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.

For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at patrickhoffman3530@gmail.com.