by Patrick Hoffman on 03/05/13 at 08:00 AM ET
The New York Rangers may have won two straight games but even with four points in their pocket, the team still finds themselves out of the top eight in the Eastern Conference.
One team that is currently ahead of them by one point, the Philadelphia Flyers, come into Madison Square Garden tonight looking to steal two points for the Blueshirts and continue to climb the standings. The Rangers have had a lot of success over the Flyers in the past year or so but in a shortened season like this one, the past means absolutely nothing.
The two teams met once already this season and the Flyers won in a convincing fashion by beating the Blueshirts by a score of 2-1. The Flyers outshot the Rangers 33-19 and had it not been for the splendid play of Blueshirts' masked man Henrik Lundqvist, it could have been a lot worse.
For the Rangers, it was the end of winning streak against the Flyers that started in March of 2011. Last season, the Rangers won all six games against the "Broadstreet Bullies" and did so by clicking in all areas of their game.
For the Rangers to get into the top eight and into the thick of the Conference playoff race, the team will need to get all areas of their game clicking once again. Too often, the Rangers have one area of their game working on all levels and another suffering.
The club has never been able to put it all together for a sustained period of time. As a result, the team currently finds themselves on the outside looking in.
Should the Rangers win tonight, that will change. The team would move one point ahead of the Flyers and into the eighth spot.
While that sounds easy, it certainly will not be for the Blueshirts. There are several teams including the Winnipeg Jets, New York Islanders, and Buffalo Sabres who are all within striking distance and are all playing tonight.
It is time for the Rangers to get into the top eight and do everything they can to stay there. It was not that long ago that the Rangers were one of the best teams in the NHL and were considered Cup favorites going into this year.
If the team can remember that and start playing like they know they can, the club can move foreward and do what they set out to do, which is make the postseason and go one step further than they did last season. A win tonight against the Flyers at home would certainly get things moving in the right direction.
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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.