by Patrick Hoffman on 12/02/09 at 06:45 PM ET
From Steve Zipay at Blue Notes:
Rangers coach John Tortorella dismissed a question about the conference standings last week, insisting that it was too early to keep track. Perhaps he’d better begin.
Through 27 games, the Rangers (13-13-1) have collected 50 percent of the available points: 27. To reach the playoffs, compiling 94 points presumably will be necessary. So, the Rangers (6-12-1 in the last 19) will need 67, or 61 percent, of the remaining 110 points available.
Their performance in the upcoming four-game stretch, over eight days beginning Saturday in Buffalo, could be telling. They face the Sabres (15-7-2) twice, home and away, the Blackhawks in Chicago (16-6-3 and 10-2-1 at home) and the Red Wings (13-9-4) at the Garden.
One reason why the Rangers are sinking is because they are juggling not three or four lines, but two-thirds of a No. 1 line: Marian Gaborik, whose second goal Monday was his NHL-leading 21st, was named the NHL’s third star for November. Sidekick Vinny Prospal has six goals; no other Ranger has more. A dozen teams have at least two players in double-digits.
The collective frost is remarkable: Ales Kotalik (one goal in the last 15 games and minus-12 overall), Chris Higgins (two in 26), Ryan Callahan (four in 27), Chris Drury (none in 12) and Sean Avery (two in 19), provide no punch. Enver Lisin, playing with a hairline fracture in his left foot, is pointless in 12 games. C Brandon Dubinsky, who has missed nine games with a broken hand, should return in a few weeks. Dubinsky, with the potential to be a top six forward, will allow Prospal to move back to left wing.
Click here for more on the Rangers’ perplexing season thus far.
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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.
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