by Patrick Hoffman on 01/16/10 at 02:43 PM ET
In the ever tight Eastern Conference, every point is crucial for the next two and a half months.
This weekend, the New York Rangers have a chance to pick up four of them when they take on the St. Louis Blues tonight in St. Louis and the Montreal Canadiens tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden.
It was obviously a tough week for the Blueshirts as they had no goals on 83 shots in two games, got shut out by two Brodeur’s, and looked extremely frustrated as the team should have picked up at least two or three points. However, with this week’s setback, the Rangers now find themselves sixth in the Eastern Conference, just two points behind the fifth place Boston Bruins but also one point out of the eighth and final spot.
To get things done the right way this weekend, the Rangers are obviously going to have score some goals. Marian Gaborik is going to need to step up, as is Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Callahan, Chris Drury, Sean Avery, Artem Anisimov and the rest of the guys that make up the team’s first three lines. The team cannot afford to look for the perfect play right now and instead must focus on getting goals anyway they possibly can.
Defensively, the team needs to play much like they did this week - let their goaltender see the puck, clear the rebounds, clear players out of the front of the net and be in the right position to block shots, passing lanes and intercept the puck.
Unfortunately for the Blueshirts, both of the teams that they are playing are also fighting hard to either remain/get into the playoff picture. The Blues currently find themselves in the 13th spot in the Western Conference and eight points behind the eighth place Los Angeles Kings while the Habs sit in the eighth and final spot in the East, just one point behind the Rangers with 50.
The team needs to realize that every single game matters. Any point (s) that they can pick up between now and the last day of the regular season could go a long way in securing one of the top eight spots in the East and a chance to compete for hockey’s holy grail, the Stanley Cup.
Four points on the line this weekend, folks. How many do you think the Rangers will come away with?
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.