by Patrick Hoffman on 03/29/10 at 09:02 PM ET
PH: How tough was it for the Blueshirts to lose a point to the Maple Leafs on Saturday night in Toronto?
NM: Not being able to capture a point in that game is already beginning to come back and bite the Rangers in the behind. With the Flyers defeating the Devils on Sunday and moving ahead of the Blueshirts by six points, New York really has to kick it into gear if they want to make it before they fall out of reach. If the Rangers lose against the Islanders, I am pretty convinced that their season will be over.
PH: How does a team recover from a loss like that and keep their confidence up that they can still make the playoffs?
NM: They need to forget it right away. That game isn’t going to help them anymore and all that is important right now is theirmatch-up with the Islanders. Henrik Lundqvist is mentally stable and has a focused train of thought, so I am not too worried about him as far as letting in the flukey tying goal to Tomas Kaberle on Saturday goes. As for the defense, they need to regroup and play much better in the final seven. The Rangers blue-line had a complete collapse in overtime, which led to their downfall.
PH: What do the Rangers need to do to win on Tuesday night against the Islanders?
NM: They need to play a gritty game and take advantage of their opportunities just as they did last week when they dominated the Isles, 5-0. The Islanders, although they have had another below-average season, are a team that will outwork you if you do not play with energy. Because of this, the Blueshirts need to play a pressure game and wait for the Isles to make the mistakes. I would say four out of the five Rangers goals last week were in some way, shape, or form on an Islander player for making a mistake. They are a young team, so that is going to happen. The Rangers need to capitalize on those chances.
PH: What does captain Chris Drury and head coach John Tortorella need to do to keep this team motivated to make the playoffs?
NM: To be honest, I do not know how “tightly knit” that locker room actually is like they claim. The players need to motivate themselves, not rely on Drury, and especially not Tortorella to do so. Torts has just about lost this team already so I do not see him motivating anyone at this point.
PH: Any words of wisdom for Blueshirt fans?
NM: Do not throw a complete fit if this team does not make the playoffs. Getting in better position for a draft pick is more important than being ousted in the first round of the playoffs. Do not get me wrong, as a fan I would love to see the Rangers make it just for the hype and excitement. Either way, it will be an interesing end to the season, that is for sure.
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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 email@example.com.