The New York Rangers are on a three-game winning steak, a tear which has allowed them to carve a much more comfortable position within the standings as the playoffs continue to loom closer.
But that won't allow the Rangers to take their foot off the gas when they take on the depleted Pittsburgh Penguins today at the CONSOL Energy Center.
Marian Gaborik, who after scoring two goals against the Islanders scored one against Montreal as well, has had two strong showings consecutively. As we've said here before, that's a fantastic sign for the Rangers, who will inevitable lean on their star sniper if they nab a playoff spot.
But the talk of this afternoon's game is not about Gaborik's recent re-surgence, it's about Henrik Lundqvist.
The Rangers' keeper, who hit his head against the goalpost at the end of New York's win over the Canadiens, is suffering from a stiff neck and is questionable for today's game.
We have been saying for weeks now that the Martin Biron injury was going to have a significant impact on the team. These are the types of situations where it really hurts the Rangers.
If Lundqvist can't go then Rangers-prospect Chad Johnson will make his sixth career NHL start.
Both Buffalo and Toronto scored big wins last night, the Sabres destroying the Thrashers, 8-2, and the Maple Leafs toppling the skidding Bruins, 5-2, so both those teams must be considered real threats to the Rangers' playoff chances. By the way, the Flyers became the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a playoff berth with their 3-2 shootout win over the Stars. Today, the Sabres host Nashville, the Devils are in Columbus and the Canadiens play in Minnesota. Here are this morning's standings:
6. Canadiens, 72 games played, 39-26-7, 85 points
7. Rangers, 72, 38-30-4, 80, won 3 in a row
8. Sabres, 71, 35-28-8, 78
9. Hurricanes, 72, 33-29-10, 76
10. Maple Leafs, 73, 32-31-10, 74
11. Thrashers, 72, 30-30-12, 72
12. Devils, 71, 33-34-4, 70, lost 2
More after the game.