by Patrick Hoffman on 03/01/11 at 10:45 AM ET
With the NHL Trade Deadline out of the way, it is time for the New York Rangers to focus on clinching a playoff spot in a very competitive Eastern Conference.
Tonight, the Blueshirts will take on the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden in an extremely important game for both clubs. The Rangers currently sit in the seventh spot in the conference with 70 points, just three points behind the sixth place Montreal Canadiens while the Buffalo Sabres are only two points behind the eighth-place Carolina Hurricanes.
With back-up goaltender Martin Biron out indefinitely due to a broken collarbone, it will be up to franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist to lead the team the rest of the way. Lundqvist has played well in his last three games and has given his hockey club a chance to win each one of them.
It will be important for Lundqvist to not only win hockey games on a consistent basis, but to stay healthy because if he goes down with an injury, the team will be in big trouble.
Speaking of injuries, Marian Gaborik is not expected to return to the lineup tonight. He is still experiencing headaches so the team is taking the proper measures to make sure that everything is okay before he steps out and plays in important hockey games.
It will also be important for the Blueshirts to really start establishing home ice as the team has struggled at MSG this season. If the team does manage to get into the playoffs, winning their games at home will become increasingly important.
It’s another two big points for the Rangers and the more points they can get now, the better it will be come April.
For more on tonight’s tilt, feel free to check out Jim Cerny’s preview over at the team web site.
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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.